Dharampal • Collected Writings
The Beautiful Tree
Dharampal • Collected Writings
Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century
Civil Disobedience in Indian Tradition
The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education
in the Eighteenth Century
Essays on Tradition, Recovery and Freedom
The Beautiful Tree
Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century
The Beautiful Tree
First Edition (1983) by Biblia Impex
(1995) by Keerthi Publishing House and AVP Printers and Publishers,
This edition is published as part of a special collection of Dharampal’s writings, by:
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...That does not finish the picture. We have the education of this future state. I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished. The village schools were not good enough for the British administrator, so he came out with his programme. Every school must have so much paraphernalia, building, and so forth. Well, there were no such schools at all. There are statistics left by a British administrator which show that, in places where they have carried out a survey, ancient schools have gone by the board, because there was no recognition for these schools, and the schools established after the European pattern were too expensive for the people, and therefore they could not possibly overtake the thing. I defy anybody to fulfill a programme of compulsory primary education of these masses inside of a century. This very poor country of mine is ill able to sustain such an expensive method of education. Our state would revive the old village schoolmaster and dot every village with a school both for boys and girls.
(MAHATMA GANDHI AT CHATHAM
OCTOBER 20, 1931)
...I have not left off the pursuit
of the subject of education in the villages during the pre-British period. I am
in correspondence with several educationists. Those who have replied do support
my view but do not produce authority that would be accepted as proof. My
prejudice or presentiment still makes me cling to the statement I made at
(GANDHIJI TO SIR PHILIP HARTOG,
A. Survey of Indigenous Education in
Presidency 1822-26 89
B. Fra Paolino Da Bartolomeo on Education of
C. Alexander Walker on Indian Education, Literature,
etc., circa, 1820 262
D. Extracts from W. Adam’s State of
E. Extracts from G.W. Leitner’s History of
F. Correspondence between Sir Philip Hartog
and Mahatma Gandhi on the Question of
Indigenous Indian Education
in the Early British Period,
and other papers 348
G. List of Tanjore Temples Receiving Revenue Assignments 386
List of Individuals in Tanjore receiving
A great deal of scholarly work has been published on the
history of education in
Reaching a far wider audience
is the voluminous work of Pandit Sundarlal, first published in 1939,5
though perhaps less academic. The 36th chapter of this celebrated work
entitled, ‘The Destruction of Indian Indigenous Education’, runs into 40 pages,
and quotes extensively from various British authorities. These span almost a
century: from the Dispatch from
Very little, however, has been written on the history, or state of education during this period, starting with the thirteenth century and up until the early nineteenth century. Undoubtedly, there are a few works like that of S.M. Jaffar6 pertaining to Muslim education. There are a chapter or two, or some cursory references in most educational histories pertaining to the period of British rule, and to the decayed state of indigenous Indian education in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Nurullah and Naik’s book7 devotes the first 43 pages (out of 643 pages) to discussing the state of indigenous education in the early nineteenth century, and in challenging certain later British views about the nature and extent of it.
Most of the discussion on the state of indigenous Indian education in the early nineteenth century, and the differing viewpoints which give rise to it, use as their source material (a) the much talked about reports by William Adam, a former Christian missionary, on indigenous education in some of the districts of Bengal and Bihar 1835-8,8 (b) published extracts of a survey made by the British authorities regarding indigenous education in the Bombay Presidency during the 1820s,9 and (c) published extracts from another wider survey of indigenous education made in the Madras Presidency (from Ganjam in the north to Tinnevelly in the south, and Malabar in the west) during 1822-25.10 A much later work on the subject, but more or less of a similar nature is that of G.W. Leitner pertaining to indigenous education in the Punjab.11
Amongst the above-mentioned
sources, G.W. Leitner’s work, based on earlier governmental documents and on
his own survey, is the most explicitly critical of British policies. It holds
the British authorities responsible for the decay, and even the destruction of
indigenous education in the
Mahatma Gandhi’s long address
at the Royal Institute of International Affairs,
Countering Gandhiji and the earlier sources in this manner, Sir Philip Hartog was really not being original. He was merely following a well-trodden British path in defence of British acts and policies in India; a path which had been charted some 125 years earlier by William Wilberforce, later considered as the father of Victorian England, in the British House of Commons.16 Hartog had been preceded in his own time in a similar enterprise by W.H. Moreland, who could not accept Vincent Smith’s observation that ‘the hired labourer in the time of Akbar and Jahangir probably had more to eat in ordinary years than he has now.’17 Smith’s challenge appears to have led Moreland from the life of a retired senior revenue settlement officer into the role of an economic historian of India.18 Quite understandably, at least till the 1940s, and burdened as they were with a sense of mission, the British could not accept any criticism of their actions, deliberate, or otherwise, in India (or elsewhere) during the two centuries of their rule.
A major part of the documents
reproduced in this book pertain to the Madras Presidency Indigenous Education
Survey. These were first seen by this writer in 1966. As mentioned above, an
abstract of this survey was included in the House of Commons Papers as early as
1831-32. Yet, while many scholars must have come across the detailed material
in the Madras Presidency District Records, as well as the Presidency Revenue
Records (the latter incidentally exist in Madras as well as in London), for
some unexplained reasons this material seems to have escaped academic
attention. The recent
The Beautiful Tree is not being presented with a view to decry British
rule. Rather, it is the continuation of an effort to comprehend, to the extent
it is possible for this author, through material of this kind relating to the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the reality of the
A number of friends have taken
interest in this material and offered me their valuable advice and opinion
during the past several years. I am grateful to all of them. Without their
support and encouragement, this work may never have been completed. Even more
so, I am greatly indebted to the
The text of the Madras
Presidency material (included in the Annexures), though first consulted in the
India Office Library, is taken from the records in the Tamilnadu State Archives
(previously the Madras Record Office). For this facility, and for much
kindness and consideration shown to me, my thanks go to the fairly over-worked
staff of the Archives. The note by Alexander Walker, also reproduced here, is
from the Walker of Bowland Papers in the National Library of
Finally, I am honoured by the Ashram Pratishthan, Sevagram, for extending me an invitation to write this book in the Ashram, and for providing me the necessary facilities and for treating me as one of their own. Completing this work living near Gandhiji’s hut has indeed been a great privilege.
* * *
The title of this
book has been taken from the speech which Mahatma Gandhi had made at Chatham
...the British administrators, when they came to
The subtitle has also been chosen accordingly. Although the Madras Presidency data which forms the bulk of this book was collected during 1822-25, the educational system to which the data pertained was much older. It was still the dominant system during the 18th century, after which it started decaying very rapidly. The Adam Reports reflect that decline in the fourth decade of the 19th century.
February 19, 1981. Dharampal
1. A.S. Altekar: Education in Ancient
2. National Archives of
3. Syed Nurullah and J.P. Naik: History of Education in
4. Ibid, Preface.
5. Bharat mein Angreji Raj (in Hindi). While its first edition in 1929 was immediately banned by the British, it was again published in 1939 in three volumes (1780 pages), and has not only been republished again, but has become a classic of its kind, providing a detailed account (pri
6. S.M. Jaffar: Education in Muslim
7. History of Education in
8. W. Adam: Reports on the State of
9. House of Commons Papers, 1831-32, Vol.9.
10. Ibid., pp.413-417, 500-507.
11. G.W. Leitner: History of Indigenous Education in the
12. See reports of Madras Collectors reproduced in Annexures A(i)-(xxx).
13. Philip Hartog: Some Aspects of Indian Education Past and Present, OUP, 1939. Preface, viii.
15. Hartog: op. cit.
16. Hansard: June 22 and July 1, 1813.
17. V.A. Smith: Akbar: The Great Mogul, Clarendon Press, 1917, p.394.
19. Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century:
Some Contemporary European Accounts, Other
20. Civil Disobedience in Indian Tradition: With some Early
Nineteenth Century Documents, Other
Indian historical knowledge, by and large, has been derived, at least until recent decades, from the writings and accounts left by foreigners. This applies equally to our knowledge about the status of Indian education over the past five centuries. The universities of Taxila and Nalanda, and a few others until recently have been better known and written about primarily because they had been described centuries ago by some Greek or Chinese traveller, who happened to keep a journal which had survived, or had communicated such information to his compatriots who passed it down to our times.
Travellers and adventurers of
a new kind began to wander around parts of
Prior to 1770, (by which time they had become actual rulers of large areas), the British, on whose writings and reports this book is primarily based,1 had rather a different set of interests. These interests, as in the subsequent period too, were largely mercantile, technological, or were concerned with comprehending, and evaluating Indian statecraft; and, thereby, extending their influence and dominion in India. Indian religions, philosophies, scholarship and the extent of education—notwithstanding what a few of them may have written on the Parsis, or the Banias of Surat—had scarcely interested them until then.
Such a lack of interest was
due partly to their different expectations from
Before the Protestant revolution, according to A.E. Dobbs, ‘the University of Oxford might be described as the “chief Charity School of the poor and the chief Grammar School in England, as well as the great place of education for students of theology, of law and medicine”’2; and ‘where instruction was not gratuitous throughout the school, some arrangement was made, by means of a graduated scale of admission fees and quarterages and a system of maintenance to bring the benefits of the institution within the reach of the poorest.’3 Further, while a very early statute of England specified: ‘No one shall put their child apprentice within any city or borough, unless they have land or rent of 20 shillings per annum: but they shall be put to such labour as their fathers or mothers use, or as their estates require;’ it nonetheless also stated that ‘any person may send their children to school to learn literature.’4
From about the mid-16th century, however, a contrary trend set in. It even led to the enactment of a law ‘that the English Bible should not be read in churches. The right of private reading was granted to nobles, gentry and merchants that were householders. It was expressly denied to artificers’ prentices, to journeymen and serving men “of the degree of yeomen or under”, to husbandmen and labourers’ so as ‘to allay certain symptoms of disorder occasioned by a free use of the Scriptures.’5 According to this new trend, it was ‘meet for the ploughman’s son to go to the plough, and the artificer’s son to apply the trade of his parent’s vocation: and the gentlemen’s children are meet to have the knowledge of Government and rule in the commonwealth. For we have as much need of ploughmen as any other State: and all sorts of men may not go to school.’6
A century and a half later (that
is, from about the end of the 17th century), there is a slow reversal of the
above trend, leading to the setting up of some Charity Schools for the common
people. These schools are mainly conceived to provide ‘some leverage in the way
of general education to raise the labouring class to the level of religious
instruction’; and, more so in
After a short start, however, the Charity School movement became rather dormant. Around 1780, it was succeeded by the Sunday school movement.8 ‘Popular education’, even at this period, ‘was still approached as a missionary enterprise.’ The maxim was ‘that every child should learn to read the Bible.’9 ‘The hope of securing a decent observance of Sunday’10 led to a concentrated effort on the promotion of Sunday schools. After some years, this attention focussed on the necessity of day schools. From then on, school education grew apace. Nevertheless, even as late as 1834, ‘the curriculum in the better class of national schools was limited in the main to religious instruction, reading, writing and arithmetic: in some country schools writing was excluded for fear of evil consequences.’11
The major impetus to the Day school movement came from what was termed the ‘Peel’s Act of 1802’. This Act required the employer of young children ‘to provide, during the first four years of the seven years of apprenticeship, competent instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, and to secure the presence of his apprentice at religious teaching for one hour every Sunday and attendance at a place of worship on that day.’12 ‘But the Act was unpopular’, and its ‘practical effect...was not great.’13 At about the same time, however, the monitorial method of teaching used by Joseph Lancaster (and also by Andrew Bell, supposedly borrowed from India)14 came into practice and greatly helped advance the cause of popular education. The number of those attending school was estimated at around 40,000 in 1792, at 6,74,883 in 1818, and 21,44,377 in 1851. The total number of schools, public as well as private in 1801 was stated to be 3,363. By stages, it reached a total of 46,114 in 1851.15
In the beginning, ‘the teachers were seldom competent’, and ‘Lancaster insinuates that the men were not only ignorant but drunken.’16 As regards the number of years of schooling, Dobbs writes that ‘allowing for irregularity of attendance, the average length of school life rises on a favourable estimate from about one year in 1835 to about two years in 1851.’17
The fortunes of English Public
schools are said to have fallen strikingly during the eighteenth century. In
January 1797, the famous school at
School education, especially
elementary education at the people’s level, remained an uncommon commodity till
around 1800. Nonetheless, the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh were perhaps as important for Britain as Taxila and Nalanda were in ancient India; or places like
Navadweep were as late as the later part of the 18th century.21 Since many of those who began to come to India from Britain
especially after 1773 as travellers, scholars, or judges had had their
education in one of these three universities,22 it may be relevant to provide here a brief account of the courses
studied together with the number of students, in one of these universities
around 1800. The university chosen here is that of
The growth of the
1546 5 Professorships founded by Henry VIII:
1. Divinity, 2. Civil Law, 3. Medicine, 4. Hebrew, 5. Greek
1619 Geometry, and Astronomy
1621 Natural Philosophy
1621 Moral Philosophy (but break between 1707-1829)
History (i.e. Hebrew, and
1624 Grammar, Rhetoric, Metaphysics (fell into disuse, replaced by Logic in 1839)
1724 Modern History and Modern Languages
1749 Experimental Philosophy
1758 Common Law
1780 Clinical Instruction
1795 Anglo-Saxon (i.e. language, literature, etc.)
In the beginning of the
nineteenth century, there were nineteen colleges and five halls in
Theology and classics were the main subjects which were studied at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Examinations were set in classics known as Literae Humaniores. These included Greek and Latin language and literature, moral philosophy, rhetoric and logic, and the elements of the mathematical sciences and physics.
Lectures were also available on other topics, e.g. law, medicine and geology.
After 1805, there was an increase in the number of students entering the University. The number of students on the rolls rose from about 760 in the early nineteenth century to about 1300 in 1820-24.
The main sources of financial
support of the colleges in
While the British, as well as the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French, directly or in the name of the various East India Companies they had set up in the late 16th and early 17th centuries were busy extending their bases, factories, fortifications and the like, and wherever possible occupying whole territories in the Indian Ocean area, European scholars on their part were trying to understand various aspects of the civilizations existing in this area. Prominent amongst these were members of several Christian monastic orders, the most well known being the Jesuits, who were specialising in the fields of the sciences, customs, manners, philosophies and religions. There were some others with interests of a more political, historical or economic nature. Many of them took to narrating their own adventures, and occasionally, misfortunes in the ‘fabulous’ and ‘exotic’ East. Due to the widespread interest of the European elite, much of this writing was published in one or more European languages soon after. Accounts and discussions which happened to be of a limited, but great scholarly or religious interest, were copied by hand many times over.25
This great accumulation of material, from about the mid-18th
century, led to serious scholarly attention and debate on India, and areas of
South East Asia, particularly with regard to their politics, laws, philosophies
and sciences, especially Indian astronomy. This contemporary European interest,
(especially amongst men like Voltaire, Abbe Raynal and Jean Sylvain Bailly) aroused a similar
A. Maconochie advocated, on the other hand (first in 178328 and then again in 1788), the taking of such measures by ‘our monarch, the sovereign of the banks of the Ganges...as may be necessary for discovering, collecting and translating whatever is extent of the ancient works of the Hindoos.’ He thought that if the British ‘procured these works to Europe, astronomy and antiquities, and the sciences connected with them would be advanced in a still great proportion.’ He observed further that ‘the antiquities of the religion and Government of the Hindoos are not less interesting than those of their sciences’; and felt that ‘the history, the poems, the traditions, the very fables of the Hindoos might therefore throw light upon the history of the ancient world and in particular upon the institutions of that celebrated people from whom Moses received his learning and Greece her religion and her arts.’ Prof. Maconochie also stated that the centre of most of this learning was Benares, where ‘all the sciences are still taught’ and where ‘very ancient works in astronomy are still extant.’29
Around the same time, a similar vein of thought and some corresponding action had started amongst those who had been entrusted with the exercise of political power and the carrying out of the policies and instructions from London, within India. The more practical and immediate purposes of governance (following Adam Ferguson) led to the writing of works on Hindu and Muslim law, investigations into the rights of property and the revenues of various areas, and to assist all this, to a cultivation of Sanskrit and Persian amongst some of the British themselves. Acquaintance with these languages was felt necessary so as to enable the British to discover better, or to discard, choose, or select what suited their purpose most. In the process some of them also developed a personal interest in Sanskrit and other Indian literature for its own sake, or for the sort of reasons which Prof. Maconochie had in view. Charles Wilkins, William Jones, F.W. Ellis in Madras, and Lt Wilford (the latter got engaged in some very exotic research at Varanasi) were amongst the more well known men of this category.
Three approaches (seemingly different but in reality complementary to one another) began to operate in the British held areas of India regarding Indian knowledge, scholarship and centres of learning from about the 1770s. The first resulted from growing British power and administrative requirements which (in addition to such undertakings that men like Adam Ferguson had recommended) also needed to provide a garb of legitimacy and a background of previous indigenous precedents (however farfetched) to the new concepts, laws and procedures which were being created by the British state. It is primarily this requirement which gave birth to British Indology. The second approach was a product of the mind of the Edinburgh enlightenment (dating back to around 1750) which men like Maconochie represented. They had a fear, born out of historical experience, philosophical observation and reflection (the uprooting of entire civilizations in the Americas), that the conquest and defeat of a civilisation generally led not only to its disintegration, but the disappearance of precious knowledge associated with it. They advocated, therefore, the preparation of a written record of what existed, and what could be got from the learned in places like Varanasi. The third approach was a projection of what was then being attempted in Great Britain itself: to bring people to an institutionalised, formal, law-abiding Christianity and, for that some literacy and teaching became essential. To achieve such a purpose in India, and to assist evangelical exhortation and propaganda for extending Christian ‘light’ and ‘knowledge’ to the people, preparation of the grammars of various Indian languages became urgent. The task according to William Wilberforce, called for ‘the circulation of the holy scriptures in the native languages’ with a view to the general diffusion of Christianity, so that the Indians ‘would, in short become Christians, if I may so express myself, without knowing it.’30
All these efforts, joined together, also led to the founding of a few British sponsored Sanskrit and Persian colleges as well as to the publication of some Indian texts or selections from them which suited the purpose of governance. From now on, Christian missionaries also began to open schools. Occasionally, they wrote about the state and extent of indigenous education in the parts of India in which they functioned. However, British interest was not centered on the people, their knowledge, or education, or the lack of it. Rather, their interest in ancient texts served their purpose: that of making the people conform to what was chosen for them from such texts and their new interpretations. Their other interest (till 1813, this was only amongst a section of the British) was in the christianisation of those who were considered ready for such conversions (or, in the British phraseology of the period, for receiving ‘the blessings of Christian light and moral improvements’). These conversions were also expected to serve a more political purpose, in as much as it was felt that it could establish some affinity of outlook and belief between the rulers and the ruled. A primary consideration in all British decisions from the very beginning, continued to be the aim of maximising the revenue receipts of Government and of discovering any possible new source which had remained exempt from paying any revenue to Government.
Instructions regarding the collection of information about the extent and nature of indigenous Indian education (including its contemporary state) were largely the consequence of the long debate in the House of Commons in 1813. This debate focussed on the clause relating to the promotion of ‘religious and moral improvement’ in India.31 Before any new policy could be devised, the existing position needed to be better known. But the quality and coverage of these surveys varied from Presidency to Presidency, and even from district to district. (This generally happens in the gathering of any such information, and more so when such collection of data was a fairly new thing.)
The information which is thus available today, whether published, or still in manuscript form in the government records—as is true of the details of the Madras Presidency indigenous education survey—largely belongs to the 1820’s and 1830’s period. An unofficial survey made by G.W. Leitner in 1882 for the Punjab compared the situation there for the years before 1850, with that in 1882.
Before highlighting the main points of information given by the surveys and then proceeding with its analysis, some preliminary observations about the data as a whole are in order.
The first observation concerns the largely quantitative nature of the data presented and the fact that it concentrates largely on the institution of the school as we know it today. This, however, may help propagate wrong impressions.
It is important to emphasize that indigenous education was carried out through pathshalas, madrassahs and gurukulas. Education in these traditional institutions—which were actually kept alive by revenue contributions by the community including illiterate peasants—was called shiksha (and included the ideas of prajna, shil and samadhi). These institutions were, in fact, the watering holes of the culture of traditional communities. Therefore, the term ‘school’ is a weak translation of the roles these institutions really played in Indian society.
For this reason, the quantitative nature of the data presented should be read with great caution. The increase in the numbers of schools in England may not necessarily have been a good thing, as it merely signified the arrival of factory schooling. On the other hand, the decline in the numbers of traditional educational institutions is to be intensely deplored, since this meant quality education was being replaced by a substandard substitute. These aspects must always be kept at the back of our minds when we commence analysing the data for significance. Before we do that, the highlights first.
The most well-known and controversial point which emerged from the educational surveys lies in an observation made by William Adam. In his first report, he observed that there exist about 1,00,000 village schools in Bengal and Bihar around the 1830s.32 This statement appears to have been founded on the impressions of various high British officials and others who had known the different areas rather intimately and over long periods; it had no known backing of official records. Similar statements had been made, much before W. Adam, for areas of the Madras Presidency. Men like Thomas Munro, had observed that ‘every village had a school.’33 For areas of the newly extended Presidency of Bombay around 1820, senior officials like G.L. Prendergast noted ‘that there is hardly a village, great or small, throughout our territories, in which there is not at least one school, and in larger villages more.’34 Observations made by Dr G.W. Leitner in 1882 show that the spread of education in the Punjab around 1850 was of a similar extent.
Since these observations were made, they have been treated very differently: by some, with the sanctity reserved for divine utterances; and by others, as blasphemous. Naturally, the first view was linked with the growth of a vocal Indian nationalism. Its exponents, besides prominent Indians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, have also included many illustrious Englishmen, like Keir Hardie, and academics like Max Mueller. The second, the blasphemous view of them, was obviously held by those who were in the later period, in one capacity or another, concerned with the administration of India; or those who felt impelled, sometimes because of their commitment to certain theoretical formulations on the development of societies, to treat all such impressions as unreal. Especially after 1860, it had become necessary to ensure that men who had had a long period of service in the British Indian administration or its ancillary branches and who also had the ability to write, should engage in the defence of British rule, especially its beginnings, and consequently attempt to refute any statements which implied that the British had damaged India in any significant manner.
While much ink has been spilt on such a controversy, little attempt is known to have been made for placing these statements or observations in their contextual perspective. Leaving Leitner’s work, most of these statements belong to the early decades of the nineteenth century. For the later British administrator, the difficulty of appreciating the substance of the controversy is quite understandable. For England had few schools for the children of ordinary people till about 1800. Even many of the older Grammar Schools were in poor shape at the time. Moreover, the men who wrote about India (whether concerning its education, or its industry and crafts, or the somewhat higher real wages of Indian agricultural labourers compared to such wages in England)35 belonged to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century society of Great Britain. Naturally, when they wrote about a school in every village in India—whether that may or may not have been literally true—in contrast to the British situation, it must have appeared to them so. And though they did not much mention this contrast in so many words, it may reasonably be assumed that, as perceptive observers, it was the very contrast which led them to make such judgements.
These surveys, based not on mere impressions but on hard data, reveal a great deal: the nature of Indian education; its content; the duration for which it ordinarily lasted; the numbers actually receiving institutional education in particular areas; and, most importantly, detailed information on the background of those benefiting from these institutions.
The idea of a school existing in every village, dramatic and picturesque in itself, attracted great notice and eclipsed the equally important details. The more detailed and hard facts have received hardly any notice or analysis. This is both natural and unfortunate. For these latter facts provide an insight into the nature of Indian society at that time. Deeper analysis of this data and adequate reflection on the results followed by required further research may help solve even the riddle of what has been termed ‘the legend of the 1,00,000 schools’.36
According to this hard data, in terms of the content, the and proportion of those attending institutional school education, the situation in India in 1800 is certainly not inferior to what obtained in England then; and in many respects Indian schooling seems to have been much more extensive (and, it should be remembered, that it is a greatly damaged and disorganised India that one is referring to). The content of studies was better than what was then studied in England. The duration of study was more prolonged. The method of school teaching was superior and it is this very method which is said to have greatly helped the introduction of popular education in England but which had prevailed in India for centuries. School attendance, especially in the districts of the Madras Presidency, even in the decayed state of the period 1822-25, was proportionately far higher than the numbers in all variety of schools in England in 1800. The conditions under which teaching took place in the Indian schools were less dingy and more natural;37 and, it was observed, the teachers in the Indian schools were generally more dedicated and sober than in the English versions. The only aspect, and certainly a very important one, where Indian institutional education seems to have lagged behind was with regard to the education of girls. Quite possibly, girl schooling may have been proportionately more extensive in England in 1800, and was definitely the case, a few decades later. Accounts of education in India do often state (though it is difficult to judge their substantive accuracy from the data which is so far known), that the absence of girls in schools was explained, however, by the fact that most of their education took place in the home.
It is, however, the Madras Presidency and Bengal-Bihar data which presents a kind of revelation. The data reveals the background of the teachers and the taught. It presents a picture which is in sharp contrast to the various scholarly pronouncements of the past 100 years or more, in which it had been assumed that education of any sort in India, till very recent decades, was mostly limited to the twice-born38 amongst the Hindoos, and amongst the Muslims to those from the ruling elite. The actual situation which is revealed was different, if not quite contrary, for at least amongst the Hindoos, in the districts of the Madras Presidency (and dramatically so in the Tamil-speaking areas) as well as the two districts of Bihar. It was the groups termed Soodras, and the castes considered below them39 who predominated in the thousands of the then still-existing schools in practically each of these areas.
The last issue concerns the conditions and arrangements which alone could have made such a vast system of education feasible: the sophisticated operative fiscal arrangements of the pre-British Indian polity. Through these fiscal measures, substantial proportions of revenue had long been assigned for the performance of a multiplicity of public purposes. These seem to have stayed more or less intact through all the previous political turmoils and made such education possible. The collapse of this arrangement through a total centralisation of revenue, as well as politics led to decay in the economy, social life, education, etc. This inference, if at all valid, warrants a re-examination of the various currently held intellectual and political assumptions with regard to the nature of pre-British Indian society, and its political and state structure.
Before discussing this last issue any further, however, it is necessary first to understand the various aspects of the educational data, and the controversy it gave rise to in the 1930s. Since the detailed data of the Madras Presidency is the least known and the most comprehensive, we shall examine it first.
The available papers connected with this survey include the instructions of Government, the circular from the Board of Revenue to the district collectors conveying the instructions and the prescribed form according to which information had to be compiled, the replies of the collectors from all the 21 districts of the Presidency, the proceedings of the Board of Revenue on the information received while submitting it to Government, and the Madras Government’s proceedings on it. These are all reproduced as Annexure A (i)-(xxx). It would have been useful for a more thorough analysis, and for better understanding of the situation if the details from which the collectors compiled their reports could be found. A reference to the records of a few districts, preserved in the Tamilnadu State Archives does not, however, indicate any additional material having survived in them. If any Taluka records still exist for this period it is quite possible they may contain more detailed data about particular villages, towns, colleges and schools.
In addition to the instructions conveyed in the Minute of the Governor-in-Council, and the text of the letter from Government to the Board of Revenue (both of which were sent to the collectors), the prescribed form required from them details of the number of schools and colleges in the districts, and the number of male and female scholars in them. The number of scholars, male as well as female were further to be provided under the following categories: (i) Brahmin scholars, (ii) Vysee scholars, (iii) Soodra scholars, (iv) scholars of all other castes and (v) Mussalman scholars. The numbers under (i) to (iv) were to be totalled separately. To these were added those under (v), thus arriving at the total number of Hindoo and Mussalman scholars, in the district, or some part of it. The category ‘all other castes’, as mentioned earlier, evidently seems to have implied all such castes considered somewhat below the Sat-Soodra category. This included most such groupings which today are listed among the scheduled castes.
It may be noted from the documents that while a reply was received from the collector of Canara, he did not send any data about the number of schools, and colleges, or any estimation of the number of those who may have been receiving instruction in the district, through what he termed private education. Apart from the statement that ‘there are no colleges in Canara’, etc., he was of the view that teaching in Canara could not be termed ‘public education’; as it was organised on a somewhat discontinuous basis by a number of parents in an area by getting together and engaging the services of a teacher(s) for the purpose of teaching their children. The major difficulty for the collector, however, seemed to be that ‘the preparation of the necessary information would take up a considerable time’; and, that even if it were collected, no ‘just criterion of the actual extent of schools as exist in this zillah could be formed upon it.’ He hoped, therefore, that his letter itself would be considered as a satisfactory reply. It may be added here that Canara (from about 1800 onwards, and till at least the 1850s), even more than the northern areas of coastal Andhra, was the scene of continual opposition and peasant resistance to British rule. Besides, it also generally happened that whenever any such data was ordered to be collected (and this happened quite often) on one topic or another, the quality and extent of the information supplied by the collectors varied a great deal. To some extent, such differences in these returns arose from the varying relevance of an enquiry from district to district. A more important reason, perhaps, was the fact that because of the frequent change of collectors and their European assistants, many of them (at the time such information was required) were not very familiar with the district under their charge. Furthermore, quite a number were for various reasons, too involved in other more pressing activities, or, mentally much less equipped to meet such continual demands for information.
The information from the districts, therefore, varies a great deal in detail as well as quality. While the data from about half the districts was organised taluka-wise, and in some even pargana-wise, from the other half it was received for the district as a whole. Three districts—Vizagapatam, Masulipatam and Tanjore—added one further category to the prescribed form provided by Government, viz. the category of Chettris or Rajah scholars between the columns for Brahmin and Vysee scholars. Further, while some of the collectors especially of Bellary, Cuddapah, Guntoor and Rajahmundry sent fairly detailed textual replies, some others like Tinnevelly, Vizagapatam and Tanjore left it to the data to tell the story. A few of the collectors also mentioned the books used in the schools and institutions of higher learning in their districts. The collector of Rajahmundry, being the most detailed, provided a list of 43 books used in Telugu schools. He also identified some of those used in the schools of higher learning, as well as in the schools teaching Persian and Arabic.
TOTAL SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND SCHOLARS
Table 1 gives the total number of schools and institutions of higher learning, along with the number of students in them in their districts. The data is taken from the reports of the collectors. Incidentally, the collectors of Ganjam and Vizagapatam indicated that the data they were sending was somewhat incomplete. This might also have been true of some of the other districts which were wholly or partly under Zamindary tenure.
Two of the collectors also sent detailed information pertaining to those who were being educated at home, or in some other private manner. The collector of Malabar sent details of 1,594 scholars who were receiving education in Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics and Medical Science in his district from private tutors. The collector of Madras, on the other hand, reported in his letter of February 1826 that 26,963 school-level scholars were then receiving tuition at their homes in the area under his jurisdiction. More will be said about this private education subsequently.
The reports of the collectors were ultimately reviewed by the Government of the Presidency of Madras on 10 March 1826. The Governor, Sir Thomas Munro, was of the view that while the institutional education of females seemed negligible, that of the boys between the ages of 5 to 10 years appeared to be a ‘little more than one-fourth’ of the boys of that age in the Presidency as a whole. Taking into consideration those who were estimated as being taught at home, he was inclined ‘to estimate the portion of the male population who receive school education to be nearer to one-third than one-fourth of the whole.’
CASTE-WISE DIVISION OF MALE SCHOOL STUDENTS
The more interesting and historically more relevant information, however, is provided by the caste-wise division of students. This is true not only as regards boys, but also with respect to the rather small number of girls who, according to the survey, were receiving education in schools. Furthermore, the information becomes all the more curious and pertinent when the data is grouped into the five main language areas—Oriya, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil. These constituted the Presidency of Madras at this period, and throughout the nineteenth century. Table 2 gives the caste-wise number of school-going male students in each district of the five language areas.
It has generally been assumed that the education of any kind in India, whether in the ancient period, or just at the beginning of British rule was mainly concerned with the higher and middle strata of society; and, in case of the Hindoos (who in the Madras Presidency accounted for over 95% of the whole population), it was more or less limited to the twice-born. However, as will be seen from Table 2, the data of 1822-25 indicate more or less an opposite position. Such an opposite view is the most pronounced in the Tamil-speaking areas where the twice-born ranged between 13% in South Arcot to some 23% in Madras, the Muslims form less than 3% in South Arcot and Chingleput to 10% in Salem, while the Soodras and the other castes ranged from about 70% in Salem and Tinnevelly to over 84% in South Arcot.
To make the foregoing tabulation more easily comprehensible the caste-wise data may be converted into percentages of the whole for each district. Table 3 shows the result of such conversion.
In Malayalam-speaking Malabar, the proportion of the twice-born was still below 20% of the total. Because of a larger Muslim population, however, the number of Muslim school students went up to nearly 27%; while the Soodras, and the other castes accounted for some 54% of the school going students.
In the largely Kannada-speaking Bellary, the proportion of the twice-born (the Brahmins and the Vysees) went up to 33%, while the Soodras, and the other castes still accounted for some 63%.
The position in the Oriya-speaking Ganjam was similar: the twice-born accounting for some 35.6%, and the Soodras and other castes being around 63.5%.
It is only in the Telugu-speaking districts that the twice-born formed the major proportion of the school going students. Here, the proportion of Brahmin boys varied from 24% in Cuddapah to 46% in Vizagapatam; of the Vysees from 10.5% in Vizagapatam to 29% in Cuddapah; of the Muslims from 1% in Vizagapatam to 8% in Nellore; and of the Soodras and other
castes from 35% in Guntoor to over 41% in Cuddapah and Vizagapatam.
SCHOOLS CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THE LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
Some of the districts also provided information regarding the language in which education was imparted, and the number of schools where Persian or English were taught. The number of schools teaching English was only 10, the highest being 7 in the district of North Arcot. Nellore, North Arcot and Masulipatam had 50, 40 and 19 Persian schools respectively, while Coimbatore had 10, and Rajahmundry 5. North Arcot and Coimbatore had schools which taught Grantham (1 and 5 respectively) as well as teaching Hindvee [a sort of Hindustani] (16 and 14 respectively), and Bellary had 23 Marathi schools. The district of North Arcot had 365 Tamil and 201 Telugu schools, while Bellary had nearly an equal number of schools teaching Telugu and Kannada. Table 4 indicates this data more clearly.
AGE OF ENROLLMENT, DAILY TIMINGS, ETC.
As mentioned earlier, the data varies considerably from district to district. Many of the collectors provided information regarding the age at which boys (and perhaps girls too) were admitted to school, the usual age being five. According to the collector of Rajahmundry, ‘the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the boy’s age is the “lucky day” for his first entrance into school’, while according to the collector of Cuddapah, the age for admission for Brahmin boys was from the age of five to six and that for Soodras from six to eight. The collector of Cuddapah further mentioned two years as the usual period for which the boys stayed at school. Nellore and Salem mentioned 3 to 5 or 6 years, while most others stated that the duration of study varied from a minimum of five to about a maximum of 15 years. While some collectors did not think much of the then current education in the schools, or of the learning and scholarship of the teachers, some thought the education imparted useful. The collector of Madras observed: ‘It is generally admitted that before they (i.e. the students) attain their 13th year of age, their acquirements in the various branches of learning are uncommonly great.’40
From the information given, it seems that the school functioned for fairly long hours: usually starting about 6 A.M., followed by one or two short intervals for meals, etc., and finishing at about sunset, or even later. Table 5 charts out the information which was received on these points from the several collectors. The functioning of these schools, their methods of teaching, and the subjects taught are best described in the annexed accounts of Fra Paolino Da Bartolomeo (A.D. 1796) and of Alexander Walker (ca 1820).41
BOOKS USED IN SCHOOLS
The main subjects reported to be taught in these Indian schools were reading, writing and arithmetic. The following lists of books used in the schools of Bellary, as also of Rajahmundry may be worth noting, and may to some degree indicate the content of learning in these schools.
NAMES OF THE BOOKS IN USE IN THE SCHOOLS IN BELLARY DISTRICT42
A. Most commonly used
1. Ramayanum 2. Maha Bharata 3. Bhagvata
B. Used by Children from Manufacturing Classes
Nagalingayna-Kutha 2. Vishvakurma-Poorana
3. Kumalesherra Kalikamahata
C. Used by Lingayat Children
1. Buwapoorana 2. Raghavan-Kunkauya
3. Geeruja Kullana 4. Unbhavamoorta
5. Chenna-Busavaswara-Poorana 6. Gurilagooloo, etc.
D. Lighter Literature Read
1. Punchatantra 2. Bhatalapunchavunsatee
3. Punklee-soopooktahuller 4. Mahantarungenee
E. Dictionaries and Grammars used
1. Nighantoo 2. Umara 3. Subdamumburee
4. Shubdeemunee-Durpana 5. Vyacurna 6. Andradeepeca 7. Andranamasungraha, etc.
NAMES OF THE BOOKS IN USE IN THE SCHOOLS IN RAJAHMUNDRY43
1. Baula Ramauyanum 2. Rookmeny Culleyanum
3. Paurejantahpatraranum 4. Molly Ramauyanum
5. Raumayanum 6. Dansarady Satacum
7. Kreestna Satacum 8. Soomaty Satacum
9. Janakey Satacum 10. Prasunnaragara Satacum
11. Ramataraka Satacum 12. Bahscara Satacum
13. Beesanavecausa Satacum 14. Beemalingaswara Satacum
15. Sooreyanaraina Satacum 16. Narraina Satacum
17. Plaholanda Charatra 18. Vasoo Charatra
19. Manoo Charetra 20. Sumunga Charetra
21. Nala Charetra 22. Vamana Charetra
23. Ganintum 24. Pauvooloory Ganintum
25. Bhauratam 26. Bhaugavatum
27. Vejia Valousum 28. Kroostnaleelan Velausum
29. Rathamathava Velausum 30. Suptama Skundum
31. Astma Skundum 32. Rathamathava Sumvadum
33. Bhaunoomaly Paranayem 34. Veerabhadra Vejayem
35. Leelansoondary Paranayem 36. Amarum
37. Sooranthanaswarum 38. Voodeyagapurvem
39. Audepurvem 40. Gajandra Motchum
41. Andhranamasungraham 42. Coochalopurksyanum
43. Resekajana Manobharanum
INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING
While several of the collectors observed that no institutions of higher learning were then known to exist in their districts, the rest reported a total of 1,094 such places. These were enumerated under the term ‘colleges’ (as mentioned in the prescribed form). The largest number of these, 279, were in the district of Rajahmundry with a total of 1,454 scholars, Coimbatore came next with 173 such places (724 scholars), Guntoor had 171 (with 939 scholars), Tanjore 109 (with 769 scholars), Nellore 107, North Arcot 69 (with 418 scholars), Salem 53 (with 324 scholars), Chingleput 51 (with 398 scholars), Masulipatam 49 (with 199 scholars), Bellary 23, Trichnopoly 9 (with 131 scholars), and Malabar with one old institution maintained by the Samudrin Raja (Zamorin), with 75 scholars. In most other districts where no such institutions were known, the collectors reported that such learning—in the Vedas, Sastras, Law, Astronomy, Ganeetsastram, Ethics, etc.—was imparted in Agraharams, or usually at home. The data regarding such privately conducted learning in Malabar may be indicative of the extent of such learning in other districts also (discussed in a subsequent section). Table 6 indicates these and other details more clearly.
In most areas, the Brahmin scholars formed a very small proportion of those studying in schools. Higher learning, however, being more in the nature of professional specialisation, seems in the main to have been limited to the Brahmins. This was especially true regarding the disciplines of Theology, Metaphysics, Ethics, and to a large extent of the study of Law. But the disciplines of Astronomy and Medical Science seem to have been studied by scholars from a variety of backgrounds and castes. This is very evident from the Malabar data: out of 808 studying Astronomy, only 78 were Brahmins; and of the 194 studying Medicine, only 31 were Brahmins. Incidentally, in Rajahmundry, five of the scholars in the institution of higher learning were Soodras. According to other Madras Presidency surveys, of those practising Medicine and Surgery, it was found that such persons belonged to a variety of castes. Amongst them, the barbers, according to British medical men, were the best in Surgery.44
Besides the account provided by the Samudrin Raja regarding the functioning of the institution supported by his family in Malabar,45 the collectors of Guntoor, Cuddapah, Masulipatam, Madura and Madras also wrote in some detail on the subject of higher learning. According to the collector of Madras: ‘Astronomy, Astrology, etc. are in some instances taught to the children of the poorer class of Brahmins gratis, and in certain few cases an allowance is given 5proportionate to the circumstances of the parents or guardians.’ The collector of Madura on the other hand mentioned that:
In agraharam villages inhabited by Brahmins, it has been usual from time immemorial to allot for the enjoyment of those who study the Vaidams and Pooranams (religion and historical traditions) an extent of maunium land yielding from 20 to 50 fanams per annum and in a few but rare instances to the extent of 100 fanams and they gratuitously and generally instruct such pupils as may voluntarily be brought to them.46
The collector of Masulipatam made a similar observation and stated:
If the boys are of Vydeea Brahmins, they are, so soon as they can read properly, removed direct from schools to college of Vadums and Sastrums.
The former is said to be the mother of all the sciences of Hindoos, and the latter is the common term for all those sciences, which are in Sanskrit, viz law, astronomy, theology, etc. These sciences are taught by Brahmins only, and more especially Brahmins holding Agraharams, Mauniums, Rozunahs, or other emoluments, whose duty it is to observe their religious obligation on all occasions.
In most of the towns, villages and hamlets of this country, the Brahmins are teaching their boys the Vadum and Sastrums, either in colleges or elsewhere in their respective houses.47
The more descriptive accounts, however, were from Cuddapah and Guntoor. The collector of Cuddapah stated:
Although there are no schools or colleges supported by public contribution, I ought not to omit that amongst Brahmins, instruction is in many places gratuitously afforded and the poorer class obtain all their education in this way. At the age of from 10 to 16 years, if he has not the means of obtaining instruction otherwise, a young Brahmin leaves his home, and proceeds to the residence of a man of his own caste who is willing to afford instruction without recompense to all those resorting to him for the purpose. They do not, however, derive subsistence from him for as he is generally poor himself, his means could not of course give support to others, and even if he has the means his giving food and clothing to his pupils would attract so many as
to defeat that object itself which is professed. The Board would naturally enquire how these children who are so destitute as not to be able to procure instruction in their own villages, could subsist in those to which they are strangers, and to which they travel from 10 to 100 miles, with no intention of returning for several years. They are supported entirely by charity, daily repeated, not received from the instructor for the reasons above mentioned, but from the inhabitants of the villages generally. They receive some portion of alms daily at the door of every Brahmin in the village, and this is conceded to them with a cheerfulness which considering the object in view must be esteemed as a most honourable trait in the native character, and its unobtrusiveness ought to enhance the value of it. We are undoubtedly indebted to this benevolent custom for the general spread of education amongst a class of persons whose poverty would otherwise be an insurmountable obstacle to advancement in knowledge, and it will be easily inferred that it requires only the liberal and fostering care of Government to bring it to perfection.48
The collector of Guntoor was equally descriptive and observed that though there seemed to be ‘no colleges for teaching theology, law, astronomy, etc. in the district’ which are endowed by the state yet,
These sciences are privately taught to some scholars or disciples generally by the Brahmins learned in them, without payment of any fee, or reward, and that they, the Brahmins who teach are generally maintained by means of maunium land which have been granted to their ancestors by the ancient Zamindars of the Zillah, and by the former Government on different accounts, but there appears no instance in which native Governments have granted allowances in money and land merely for the maintenance of the teachers for giving instruction in the above sciences. By the information which has been got together on the subject, it appears that there are 171 places where theology, laws and astronomy, etc. are taught privately, and the number of disciples in them is 939. The readers of these sciences cannot generally get teachers in their respective villages and are therefore obliged to go to others. In which case if the reader belongs to a family that can afford to support him he gets what is required for his expenses from his home and which is estimated at three rupees per month, but which is only sufficient to supply him with his victuals; and if on the other hand, his family is in too indigent circumstances to make such allowance, the student procures his daily subsistence from the houses in the village where taught which willingly furnish such by turns.
Should people be desirous of studying deeper in theology, etc. than is taught in these parts, they travel to Benares, Navadweepum,49 etc. where they remain for years to take instruction under the learned pundits of those places.50
SOME BOOKS USED IN HIGHER LEARNING
The books used in these institutions may be assumed to have been the Vedas, the various Sastras, the Puranas, the more well known books on Ganeeta, and Jyotish-shastras, and Epic literature. Except in the report from Rajahmundry, there is no mention of any books in the reports from other districts. According to Rajahmundry, some of the books used there were:
NAMES OF THE BOOKS IN USE IN THE COLLEGES IN RAJAHMUNDRY51
1. Roogvadum 1. Ragoovumsam
2. Yajoorvadum 1. Coomarasumbhavem
3. Samavadum 1. Moghasundasem
4. Sroudum 1. Bharavy
5. Dravedavedum or 1. Maukhum
1. Sanskrit Grammar
Besides, as Rajahmundry had a few Persian schools,52 it also sent a list of Persian and Arabic books studied. These were:
NAMES OF THE BOOKS IN USE IN THE PERSIAN SCHOOLS IN RAJAHMUNDRY
1. Caremah Aumadunnanmah
2. Harckarum in Persian
3. Inshah Culipha and Goolstan
4. Bahurdanish and Bostan
5. Abdul Phazul Inshah
PRIVATE TUITION (OR EDUCATION AT HOME)
Several collectors, especially the collector of Canara, who did not send any statistical returns at all, mentioned the fact that many of the boys and especially the girls received education at home from their parents, or relatives, or from privately engaged tutors. Many also stated that higher learning is being imparted in Agraharams, etc. However, it was only the collectors of Malabar and of the city of Madras who sent any statistical data on the subject. The collector of Malabar sent such data with regard to higher learning, while the collector of Madras about the boys and girls who were receiving education in their homes. Both the returns are reproduced in Tables 7A & B.
Regarding the data concerning higher learning from Malabar, it is reasonable to assume that though learning through private tutors did exist in most other districts, it was carried out in Malabar to a far greater extent due to its rather different historical and sociological background. As will be noted from Tables 7A & B, those studying in this fashion at this period (1823) were about twenty-one times the number of those attending the solitary college supported by the more or less resourceless family of the Samudrin Raja. The Malabar data also shows 194 persons studying medicine. As indigenous medical practitioners existed in every other district and perhaps in every village—some of them still in receipt of revenue assignments for their services to the community—it can logically be assumed that similar teaching in Medical Science existed in most other districts too.
What number and proportions in the various disciplines were thus educated privately in the other districts, however, is a speculative question. Still, it may not be too erroneous to assume that the number of those ‘privately’ studying Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Poetry and Literature, Medical Science, Music, and Dance (all of which existed in this period) was perhaps several times the number of those who were receiving such education institutionally.
The data from Madras regarding the number of boys and girls receiving tuition at their homes is equally pertinent. In comparison to those being educated in schools in Madras, this number is 4.73 times. Though it is true that half of these privately tutored were from amongst the Brahmins and the Vysees, still those from the Soodras form 28.7% of this number, and from the other castes 13%. Furthermore, the Indian part of Madras city at this period was more of a shanty-town. In comparison to the older towns and cities of the Presidency, it was a relatively badly organised place, the status of its Indian inhabitants being rather lower in the social scale than their counterparts in other places like Madura, Tanjore, Trichinopoly, etc. It may be quite probable, therefore, that the number of those privately educated in other districts, if not some 4 to 5 times more than those attending school as in Madras city, was still appreciably large. The observation of Thomas Munro that there was ‘probably some error’ in the number given of 26,903 being taught at home in Madras city—a remark incidentally which has been made much of by later commentators on the subject—does not have much validity. If the number had been considered seriously erroneous, a new computation for the city of Madras, to which alone it pertained, would have been no difficult matter, especially as this return had been submitted to the Governor a whole year before this comment. It was perhaps required of Thomas Munro—as head of the executive—to express such a reservation. Undoubtedly, it was the sort of comment which the makers of policy in London wished to hear.55 This draft, however, was followed by the remark that ‘the state of education here exhibited, low as it is compared with that of our own country, is higher than it was in most European countries at no very distant period.’ As may be guessed from the data pertaining to Britain, the term ‘at no very distant period’ really meant the beginning of the nineteenth century, which had been the real start of the Day schools for most children in the British Isles.
EDUCATION OF GIRLS
As mentioned earlier, the number of girls attending school was very small. Leaving aside the district of Malabar and the Jeypoor division of Vizagapatam district, the girls from the Brahmin, Chettri, and Vysee castes were practically non-existent in schools. There were, however, some Muslim girls receiving school education: 56 in Trichnopoly, and 27 in Salem. The Hindoo girls who attended school, though again not in any large number, were from the Soodra and other Hindoo castes; and, according to the collectors of Masulipatam, Madura, Tinnevelly and Coimbatore, most of them were stated to be dancing girls, or girls who were presumably going to be devdasis in the temples. Table 8 presents the district and caste-wise number of the girls attending school, or said to be receiving private tuition.
As will be noticed from Table 9, the position in Malabar, as also in Jeypoor Zamindary of Vizagapatam district, was much different. The relative numbers of girls and boys attending school in these two areas56 are presented in Table 8 below:
In percentage terms of the total, the proportion of girls to boys in school was the highest, 29.7%, in the Jeypoor Zamindary of the Vizagapatam district. Even more surprising, the proportion of Brahmin girls to Brahmin boys in school was as high as 37%. Similarly, in Malabar the proportion of Muslim girls to Muslim boys in school being at 35.1% is truly astonishing.57 Even amongst the Vysees, the Soodras and the other castes in Malabar, the proportion of girls to boys was fairly high at 15.5%, 19.1% and 12.4% respectively; the proportion of the totals being 18.3%. That two such widely separated areas (Malabar on the west coast while Jeypoor Zamindary being in the hilly tracts on the southern border of Orissa) had such a sociological similarity requires deeper study.
The undertaking of the survey was welcomed by London in May 1825, when it wrote to Madras: ‘We think great credit is due to Sir Thomas Munro for having originated the idea of this enquiry.’ However, after receipt of the survey information and papers, the reply Madras received ridiculed and altogether dismissed what had been reported to be functioning. In the public despatch of 16 April 1828, Madras was told that ‘the information sent’, while lacking in certain respects, was ‘yet sufficiently complete to show, that in providing the means of a better education for the natives, little aid is to be expected from the instruments of education which already exist.’
ADAM’S REPORT ON INDIGENOUS EDUCATION IN BENGAL AND BIHAR
Thirteen years after the initiation of the survey in the Madras Presidency, a more limited semi-official survey of indigenous education was taken up in the Presidency of Bengal. This was what is known as the celebrated Adam’s Reports, or to give the full title Reports on the State of Education in Bengal 1836 and 1838.58
It consists of three reports: the first, dated 1st July 1836, being a survey of the available existing information regarding indigenous education and its nature and facilities in the various districts of Bengal (pp.1-126); the second, dated 23 December 1835, being a survey of the prevalent situation undertaken by W. Adam in the Thana of Nattore in the district of Rajshahy (pp.127-208, pp.528-578); and the third, dated 28 April 1838, being a survey of the situation in parts of Murshedabad, and the whole of the districts of Beerbhoom, Burdwan, South Behar and Tirhoot, ending with Adam’s reflections, recommendations and conclusions (pp.209-467).
Adam’s Phraseology and Presentation
In spite of the controversies which Adam’s Reports have given rise to—the most notable one being his mention of there being perhaps 1,00,000 village schools still existing in Bengal and Bihar in some form till the 1830s—the total impression produced by them is one of extensive decay of these institutions. Largely due to Adam’s evangelical, moralistic tone, reading them is a rather depressing business. Adam himself was no great admirer of the Indian teacher, or the nature and content of Indian education. However, as Adam started from the view that the British Government of the day should interest itself in the sphere of elementary and higher Indian education and also support it financially, he seemed to have thought it necessary to use all possible arguments and imagery to bring home this point. Under the circumstances, it was necessary for him to dramatise the decay as well as the relative state of ignorance of the teachers, as well as the lack of books, buildings, etc., in order to evoke the desired sympathetic response. Furthermore, it is important to note that W. Adam initially had come to Bengal in 1818 as a Baptist Missionary. Though he left missionary activity after some years, and took to journalism instead, he remained a product of his contemporary British times, a period dominated by two principal currents of opinion: one which saw the necessity of evangelising India, advocated by men like William Wilberforce; the other, its westernisation, symbolised by men like T.B. Macaulay and William Bentinck. As indicated earlier, both ideas were encompassed in the Charter Act of 1813. Additionally, the reports of Adam, although not formal official documents, were nonetheless sanctioned and financed by the orders of the Governor General himself. Naturally, therefore, while they may imply many things—as do some of the reports of the Madras Presidency collectors—they were nevertheless phrased in such a way as not to lay the blame directly on past government policy and action.
Varied and Valuable Sociological Data
The more important point which comes through Adam’s voluminous writing, however, was his remarkable industry and the detail and variety of data which he was able to collect: first, from the post-1800 existing sources; and second, through his own investigations. While the controversy about his 1,00,000 village schools in Bengal and Bihar is finally forgotten, the material which he provided (regarding the caste composition of the pupils taught as well as the teachers, their average ages at various periods, and the books which were then in use in the districts he surveyed) will still have great relevance.
Some selections from Adam’s material are reproduced in the present work (Annexure D). These include: (i) descriptions of elementary education taken from the first and second reports; (ii) description of higher learning, from the first report, (iii) a section on Medical education taken from the second report, based on investigations in Nattore, Rajshahy; and (iv), some tabulations of the basic data for the five surveyed districts contained in the third report. This latter tabulation is given under the following heads:
a. Elementary Schools and caste-wise division of students
b. Elementary Schools and caste-wise division of teachers
c. Books used in Elementary Schools
d. Details of institutions of Sanskritic Learning
e. Books used in Sanskritic Studies
f. Details of institutions of Persian and Arabic Learning
g. Books used in Persian and Arabic Studies
h. Subject and districtwise duration of Study
The First Report: A Survey of Post-1800 Material
Adam’s first report is a general statement of the situation and a presentation of the data which he could derive from post-1800 official and other sources. His conclusions: first, every village had at least one school and in all probability in Bengal and Bihar with 1,50,748 villages, ‘there will still be 1,00,000’ villages that have these schools.59 Second, on the basis of personal observation and what he had learnt from other evidence, he inferred that on an average there were around 100 institutions of higher learning in each district of Bengal. Consequently, he concluded that the 18 districts of Bengal had about 1,800 such institutions. Computing the number studying in these latter at the lowest figure of six scholars in each, he also computed that some 10,800 scholars should be studying in them. He further observed that while the elementary schools ‘are generally held in the homes of some of the most respectable native inhabitants or very near them’, the institutions of higher learning had buildings generally of clay with ‘sometimes three or five rooms’ and ‘in others nine or eleven rooms’, with a reading-room which is also of clay. These latter places were also used for the residence of the scholars; and the scholars were usually fed and clothed by the teachers, and where required, were assisted by the local people. After describing the method of teaching in both types of institutions and going into their daily routine, Adam then presented and examined the post-1800 data on the subject, district by district. Table 10 gives an abstract of this examination.
The Second Report: Survey of Nattore Thana
The second report was wholly devoted to Adam’s study of the situation in the Thana of Nattore in the district of Rajshahy. It was like a modern pilot survey in which Adam developed his methods and fashioned his tools for the more extensive survey which was his primary aim. The results of this Nattore survey of 485 villages were tabulated, village by village, by Adam. Further details were provided for some of them in another tabulation. The population of this Thana was 1,20,928; the number of families 30,028 (in the proportion of one Hindoo to two Muslims); the number of elementary schools 27, and of schools of learning 38 (all these latter being Hindoo). In 1,588 families (80% of these being Hindoo), children occasionally received instruction at home. The number of scholars in elementary schools was 262, and education in them was between the ages of 8-14; while the scholars in schools of learning were 397, 136 of these being local persons and 261 from distant places, the latter also receiving both food and lodging. The average period of study in these latter institutions was 16 years, from about the age of 11 to the age of 27. However, while the number in elementary schools was so low, these 485 villages nonetheless had 123 native general medical practitioners, 205 village doctors, 21 mostly Brahmin smallpox inoculators practising according to the old Indian method,60 297 women-midwives, and 722 snake conjurors.
The Third Report: Survey of Five Districts
The third report of Adam has the most data. In this report, Adam gives the findings of his surveys in part of the district of Murshedabad (20 thanas with a population of 1,24,804 out of 37 thanas with a total district population of 9,69,447), and the whole of the districts of Beerbhoom and Burdwan in Bengal, and of South Behar and Tirhoot in Bihar. In one thana of each district, Adam carried out the enquiries personally and also gathered additional information. In the rest, it was done for him according to his instructions and proformas by his trained Indian assistants. Earlier, Adam’s intention was to visit every village in person; but he found that ‘the sudden appearance of a European in a village often inspired terror, which it was always difficult, and sometimes impossible, to subdue.’(p.214) He, therefore, gave up this idea of a personal visit to every village; in part to save time.
The total number of schools of all types in the selected districts numbered 2,566. These schools were divided into Bengali (1,098),
Hindi (375), Sanskrit (353), Persian (694), Arabic (31), English (8), Girls (6), and infants (1). The number of schools in the district of Midnapore was also given: 548 Bengali schools, 182 Oriya schools, 48 Persian schools, and one English school. Table 11 gives the position, district-wise:
Four Stages of School Instruction
Adam divided the period spent in elementary schools into four stages. According to him these were: the first stage, seldom exceeding ten days, during which the young scholar was taught ‘to form the letters of the alphabet on the ground with a small stick or slip of bamboo’, or on a sandboard. The second stage, extending from two and a half to four years, was ‘distinguished by the use of the palm leaf as the material on which writing is performed’, and the scholar was ‘taught to write and read’, and commit ‘to memory the Cowrie Table, the Numeration Table as far as 100, the Katha Table (a land measure Table), and the Ser Table’, etc. The third stage extended ‘from two to three years, which are employed in writing on the plantain-leaf.’ Addition, subtraction, and other arithmetical rules were additionally taught during this period. In the fourth, and last stage, of up to two years, writing was done on paper. The scholar was expected to be able to read the Ramayana, Mansa Mangal, etc., at home, as well as be qualified in accounts, and the writing of letters, petitions, etc. Table 12 indicates the numbers, using the various materials on which writing was done in the surveyed areas.
Elementary Education for All Sections
The first striking point from this broader survey is the wide social strata to which both the taught and the teachers in the elementary schools belonged. It is true that the greater proportion of the teachers came from the Kayasthas, Brahmins, Sadgop and Aguri castes. Yet, quite a number came from 30 other caste groups also, and even the Chandals had 6 teachers. The elementary school students present an even greater variety, and it seems as if every caste group is represented in the student population, the Brahmins and the Kayasthas nowhere forming more than 40% of the total. In the two Bihar districts, together they formed no more than 15 to 16%. The more surprising figure is of 61 Dom, and 61 Chandal school students in the district of Burdwan, nearly equal to the number of Vaidya students, 126, in that district. While Burdwan had 13 missionary schools, the number of Dom and Chandal scholars in them were only four; and, as Adam mentioned, only 86 of the ‘scholars belonging to 16 of the lowest castes’ were in these missionary schools, while 674 scholars from them were in the ‘native schools’.
Teaching of Accounts
Regarding the content of elementary teaching, Adam mentioned various books which were used in teaching. These varied considerably from district to district, but all schools in the surveyed districts, except perhaps the 14 Christian schools, taught accounts. Also, most of them taught both commercial and agricultural accounts. Table 13 gives a district-wise statement:
The age of admission in elementary schools varied from 5 to 8 years, and, that of leaving school from 13 years to 16.5 years.
Institutions of Sanskritic Learning
The schools of Sanskritic learning in the surveyed districts (in all 353) numbered as high as 190 in Burdwan (1,358 scholars) and as low as 27 in South Behar (437 scholars). The teachers (355 in all) were predominantly Brahmins, only 5 being from the Vaidya caste. The subjects predominantly taught were Grammar (1,424 students), Logic (378 students), Law (336 students) and Literature (120 students). Others, in order of numbers studying them, were Mythology (82 students), Astrology (78 students), Lexicology (48 students), Rhetoric (19 students), Medicine (18 students), Vedanta (13 students), Tantra (14 students), Mimansa (2 students), and Sankhya (1 student). The duration of the study and the ages when it was started and completed varied a great deal from subject to subject, and also from district to district. The study of Grammar started at the earliest age (9 to 12 years) and of Law, Mythology, Tantras, etc. after the age of 20. The period of study ordinarily lasted from about 7 to 15 years.
Institutions Teaching Persian and Arabic
Those studying Persian (which Adam treated more as a school subject than as a matter of higher learning) numbered 3,479, the largest, 1,424, being in South Behar. The age of admission in them ranged from 6.8 years to 10.3 years, and the study seemed to have continued for some 11 to 15 years. Over half of those studying Persian were Hindoos, the Kayasthas being predominant.61
Arabic was being studied by 175 scholars, predominantly Muslims; but 14 Kayasthas, 2 Aguris, 1 Teli, and 1 Brahmin were also students of Arabic. The books used in Persian learning were numerous and an appreciable number for the study of Arabic.
Finally, as far as age was concerned, the teachers in all types of institutions were largely in their thirties.
DR G.W. LEITNER ON INDIGENOUS EDUCATION IN THE PANJAB
Some 45 years after Adam, Dr G. W. Leitner, (one time Principal of Government College, Lahore, and for sometime acting Director of Public Instruction in the Panjab) prepared an even more voluminous survey of indigenous education there.62 The survey is very similar to that of W. Adam. Leitner’s language and conclusions, however, were more direct and much less complementary to British rule. Incidentally, as time passed, the inability of the British rulers to face any criticism grew correspondingly.
They had really begun to believe in their ‘divinely ordained’ mission in India, and other conquered areas.63
At any rate, Leitner’s researches showed that at the time of the annexation of the Panjab, the lowest computation gave ‘3,30,000 pupils in the schools of the various denominations who were acquainted with reading, writing and some method of computation.’ This is in contrast with ‘little more than 1,90,000’ pupils in 1882. Furthermore, 35-40 years previously, ‘thousands of them belonged to Arabic and Sanskrit colleges, in which oriental Literature and systems of oriental Law, Logic, Philosophy, and Medicine were taught to the highest standards.’ Leitner went into great detail, district by district, basing himself on earlier official writings; and, then carried out a detailed survey of his own regarding the position in 1882. A few brief extracts from this work, pertaining to his general statement, the type of schools which had existed earlier, and the list of books used in the Sanskritic schools is included amongst the documents reproduced in this work (Annexure E).
In the documents reproduced in this work, or in those others of the eighteenth, or early nineteenth century on the subject of education in India, while there is much on the question of higher learning, especially of Theology, Law, Medicine, Astronomy, and Astrology, there is scarcely any reference to the teaching and training in the scores of technologies, and crafts which had then existed in India. There is also little mention of training in Music, and Dance. These latter two, it may be presumed, were largely taken care of by the complex temple organisations.
The major cause of the lack of reference about the former, however, is obviously because those who wrote on education—whether as government administrators, travellers, Christian missionaries, or scholars—were themselves uninterested in how such crafts were taught, or passed from one generation to another. Some of them were evidently interested in a particular technology, or craft: as indicated by the writings on their manufacture of iron and steel, the fashioning of agricultural tools, the cotton and silk textiles, the materials used in architecture, and buildings, the materials used in the building of ships, the manufacture of ice, paper, etc. But even in such writings, the interest lay in the particular method and technology and its technological and scientific details; and, not in how these were learnt.
Yet another cause for the lack of information on the teaching of techniques and crafts may possibly lie in the fact that ordinarily in India most crafts were basically learnt in the home. What was termed apprenticeship in Britain (one could not practise any craft, profession, etc., in England without a long and arduous period under a master craftsman, or technologist) was more informal in India, the parents usually being the teachers and the children the learners. Another reason might have been that particular technologies or crafts, even like the profession of the digging of tanks, or the transportation of commodities were the function of particular specialist groups, some of them operating in most parts of India, while others in particular regions, and therefore any formal teaching and training in them must have been a function of such groups themselves. Remarks available to the effect that, ‘it is extremely difficult to learn the arts of the Indians, for the same caste, from father to son, exercises the same trade and the punishment of being excluded from the caste on doing anything injurious to its interests is so dreadful that it is often impossible to find an inducement to make them communicate anything’,64 appear to indicate some organisation of individual technologies at group levels. However, to know anything regarding their teaching, the innovations and improvisations in them, (there must have been innumerable such instances even if these were on a decline), it is essential to have much more detailed information on such groups, the nature of these technologies, and what in essence constituted a formal, or informal apprenticeship in the different crafts. On this so far we seem to have little information.
The following indicative list of the crafts listed in some of the districts of the Madras Presidency (collected in the early 19th century records for levying tax on them) may give, however, some idea of their variety.
TANKS, BUILDINGS, ETC.
Stone-cutters Wood woopers (Wood cutters)
Marble mine workers Bamboo cutters
Chunam makers Wudders (Tank diggers)
Iron ore collectors Copper-smiths
Iron manufacturers Lead washers
Iron forge operators Gold dust collectors
Iron furnaces operators Iron-smiths
Workers of smelted
into bars Horse-shoe makers
Cotton cleaners Fine cloth weavers
Cotton beaters Coarse cloth weavers
Cotton carders Chintz weavers
Silk makers Carpet weavers
Spinners Sutrenze carpet weavers
Penyasees Cot tape weavers
cotton spinners Cumblee weavers
Chay thread makers Thread purdah weavers
Chay root diggers (a dye) Gunny weavers
Rungruaze, or dyers Pariah weavers (a very large Mudda wada, or dyers in red number)
Indigo maker Mussalman weavers
Barber weavers Dyers in indigo
Boyah weavers Loom makers
Smooth and glaze cloth men Silk weavers
Preparers of earth for bangles Salt makers
Bangle makers Earth salt manufacturers
Paper makers Salt-petre makers
Fire-works makers Arrack distillers
Oilmen Collectors of drugs and roots
Soap makers Utar makers, druggists
Boat-men Sandal makers
Fishermen Umbrella makers
Rice-beaters Shoe makers
Toddy makers Pen painters
Preparers of earth Mat makers
for washermen Carpenters
Washermen Dubbee makers
Barbers Winding instrument makers
Tailors Seal makers
Basket makers Chucklers
There is a sense of widespread neglect and decay in the field of indigenous education within a few decades after the onset of British rule. This is the major common impression which emerges from the 1822-25 Madras Presidency data, the report of W. Adam on Bengal and Bihar 1835-38, and the later Panjab survey by G.W. Leitner. If studies of the detailed data pertaining to the innumerable crafts, technologies and manufactures of this period, or for that matter of social organisation were to be made, the conclusions in all probability will be little different. On the other hand, the descriptions of life and society provided by earlier European accounts (i.e. accounts written prior to the onset of European dominance) of different parts of India, and the data on Indian exports relating to this earlier period (notwithstanding the political turmoil in certain parts of India), on the whole leaves an impression of a society which seems relatively prosperous and lively. The conclusion that the decay noticed in the early 19th century and more so in subsequent decades originated with European supremacy in India, therefore, seems inescapable. The 1769-70 famine in Bengal (when, according to British record, one-third of the population actually perished), may be taken as a mere forerunner of what was to come.
In the context of some historical dialectic, however, such a decay might have been inevitable; perhaps, even necessary, and to be deliberately induced. For instance, Karl Marx, as such no friend of imperialism or capitalism, writing in 1853 was of the view, that, ‘England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating—the annihilation of the old Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundation of Western society in Asia.’65 However, it is not India alone which experienced this phenomenon of deliberate destruction. Other areas of the world, especially the Americas and Africa, seem to have experienced such destruction to an even greater extent. The nearly total annihilation of the native people of the Americas—after their subjugation by Europe from 1500 A.D. onwards—is an occurrence of equally great import. A native population estimated by modern scholars to have been in the range of 90 to 112 million around 1500 A.D.,66 —far more numerous than the estimated total population of Europe then—had dwindled to merely a few million by the end of the 19th century. It is probable that while differing in extent and numbers, similar destruction and annihilation had occurred in different parts of the world through conquest and subjugation at various times during human history. Further, quite possibly, no people or culture in the world can altogether claim innocence for itself from any participation at one time or another in such occurrences. Nonetheless, whatever may be the case regarding the world before 1500 A.D., the point is that after this date, ancient, functioning, established cultures in most areas of the world, if not wholly eliminated, had become largely depressed due to the expansion of European dominance. This requires little proof. It is obvious.
During the latter part of the 19th century, impressions of decay, decline and deprivation began to agitate the mind of the Indian people. Such impressions no doubt resulted from concrete personal, parental and social experience of what had gone before. They were, perhaps, somewhat exaggerated at times. By 1900, it had become general Indian belief that the country had been decimated by British rule in all possible ways; that not only had it become impoverished,67 but it had been degraded to the furthest possible extent; that the people of India had been cheated of most of what they had; that their customs and manners were ridiculed, and that the infrastructure of their society mostly eroded. One of the statements which thus came up was that the ignorance and illiteracy in India was caused by British rule; and, conversely, that at the beginning of British political dominance, India had had extensive education, learning and literacy. By 1930, much had been written on this point in the same manner as had been written on the deliberate destruction of Indian crafts and industry, and the impoverishment of the Indian countryside. However, to many within the expanding strata of westernised Indians—whether Marxists, Fabians, or capitalist-roaders, their views on India and their contempt for it almost equalled that of William Wilberforce, James Mill, or Karl Marx—such charges seemed farfetched, and even if true, irrelevant.
It is against this background that, during his visit in 1931 to attend the British-sponsored conference on India (known as the Round Table Conference), Mahatma Gandhi was invited to address the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. In this address Gandhiji also briefly dwelt on the causes of illiteracy in India. What he said seemed to have made sparks fly.
The meeting held on 20 October 1931, under the auspices of the Institute, is reported to have been attended by influential English men and women drawn from all parts of England, and was presided over by Lord Lothian.68 The subject on which Gandhiji spoke was ‘The Future of India’. Before describing this future, however, he dealt with several issues, like: (i) the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh problem, (ii) the problem of untouchability, and (iii) ‘the deep and ever deepening poverty’ of the 85% of the Indian people who lived in the villages. From this he moved on to the problems which required urgent attention and how ‘if the Congress had its way’ they would be dealt with. Amongst the foremost, he placed ‘the economic welfare of the masses’ as well as the provision of adequate occupations for those requiring them. He also addressed possible solutions to the problems of sanitation and hygiene, and of medical assistance which he felt not only needed packets of quinine, etc., but more so milk and fruit. Next, he turned his attention to education; and, from that, to the neglect of irrigation and the need for using long-known indigenous methods and techniques to achieve it. In conclusion, he stated that while he had told them ‘what we would do constructively’, yet ‘we should have to do something destructive also.’ As illustrative of the required destruction, he mentioned ‘the insupportable weight of military and civil expenditure’ which India could ill afford. Regarding the former, he stated that ‘if I could possibly have my way, we should get rid of three-quarters of the military expenditure.’ Regarding civil expenditure he gave an instance of what he meant: ‘Here the Prime Minister gets fifty times, the average income; the Viceroy in India gets five thousand times the average income.’ He went on to add: ‘From this one example you can work out for yourselves what this civil expenditure also means to India.’
Gandhiji’s observation on education emphasized two main points: (i) ‘that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago’; and (ii) that ‘the British administrators’, instead of looking after education and other matters which had existed, ‘began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that and the beautiful tree perished.’ He stated all this with conviction and a sense of authority. He said that he was ‘without fear’ of his ‘figures being challenged successfully.’
The challenge came immediately, however, from Sir Philip Hartog, a founder of the School of Oriental Studies, London,69 a former vice-chancellor of the University of Dacca and member and chairman of several educational committees on India set up by the British between 1918 and 1930. After questioning Gandhiji at the meeting, a long correspondence ensued between them during the next 5-6 weeks, ending with an hour long interview which Philip Hartog had with the Mahatma. In the interview, Philip Hartog was referred to some of the sources which Gandhiji had relied on, including two articles from Young India of December 1920 by Daulat Ram Gupta: (i) ‘The Decline of Mass Education in India,’ and (ii) ‘How Indian Education was crushed in the Panjab.’ These articles were largely based on Adam’s reports and G.W. Leitner’s book and some other officially published material from the Panjab, Bombay and Madras. These, however, did not seem sufficient proof to Philip Hartog, and he repeatedly insisted that Gandhiji should withdraw the statement he had made at the Chatham House meeting. Gandhiji promised that after his return to India, he would look for such material which Hartog could treat as substantiating what Gandhiji had said, adding that ‘if I find that I cannot support the statement made by me at Chatham House, I will give my retraction much wider publicity than the Chatham House speech could ever attain.’
Another important point which, according to Hartog, emerged during his interview was that Gandhiji ‘had not accused the British Government of having destroyed the indigenous schools, but [that] they had let them die for want of encouragement.’ To this, Hartog’s reply was that ‘they had probably let them die because they were so bad that they were not worth keeping.’
In the meantime, Hartog had been working and seeking opinion, advice and views of the historian Edward J. Thompson. Thompson agreed with Hartog that Gandhiji could not possibly be right; and that he himself also did not ‘believe we destroyed indigenous schools and indigenous industry out of malice. It was inevitable.’ He felt nonetheless that, with regard to general education, ‘we did precious little to congratulate ourselves on until the last dozen years.’70 In a further letter, Thompson elaborated his views on the subject: on how little was done until after 1918; that the ‘very hopelessness of the huge Indian job used to oppress’ even those who had often ‘first class record of intellect’ in places like Oxford ‘before entering the ICS.’ He noted further: ‘I am reading old records by pre-mutiny residents, they teem with information that makes you hope that the Congresswallah will never get hold of it.’ Somehow the correspondence between Hartog and Edward Thompson ended on a sour note. Perhaps, it did not provide Hartog the sort of intellectual or factual support he was actually looking for. At any rate, after the interview with Gandhiji, Hartog finally despatched his rebuttal of Gandhiji’s statement (as intended from the beginning) for publication in International Affairs.71 In this he concluded that ‘the present position is that Mr Gandhi has so far been unable to substantiate his statement in any way’; but ‘he has undertaken to retract that statement, if he cannot support it.’
Within a few days of reaching India, Gandhiji was put in Yervada Prison. From there he wrote to Hartog on 15 February 1932 informing him of his inability at that moment to satisfy him, mentioning that he had asked Prof K.T. Shah to look into the matter. K.T. Shah’s long and detailed letter reached Hartog soon after. In it, Shah also referred to the various known writings on the subject including those of Max Mueller, Ludlow, G.L. Prendergast, and the more celebrated Thomas Munro, W. Adam, and G.W. Leitner (already referred to in the foregoing pages). For Bombay, Shah quoted G.L. Prendergast, a member of the Council in the Bombay Presidency (briefly referred to earlier) who had stated in April 1821:
I need hardly mention what every member of the Board knows as well as I do, that there is hardly a village, great or small, throughout our territories, in which there is not at least one school, and in larger villages more; many in every town, and in large cities in every division; where young natives are taught reading, writing and arithmetic, upon a system so economical, from a handful or two of grain, to perhaps a rupee per month to the school master, according to the ability of the parents, and at the same time so simple and effectual, that there is hardly a cultivator or petty dealer who is not competent to keep his own accounts with a degree of accuracy, in my opinion, beyond what we meet with amongst the lower orders in our own country; whilst the more splendid dealers and bankers keep their books with a degree of ease, conciseness, and clearness I rather think fully equal to those of any British merchants.72
Knowing what Hartog considered as sufficient proof, Shah began his letter by saying that he ‘need hardly point out that at the time under reference, no country in the world had like definite, authoritative, statistical information of the type one would now recognise as proper proof in such discussions’; and that ‘all, therefore, that one can expect by way of proof in such matters, and at such a time, can only be in the form of impressions of people in a position to form ideas a little better and more scientific than those of less fortunately situated, or less well-endowed, observers.’ Shah finally concluded with the view that ‘the
closer enquiry of this type conducted by Leitner is far more reliable, and so also the obiter dicta of people in the position to have clear impressions’; and felt that ‘even those impressions must be held to give rather an underestimate than otherwise.’
But Shah’s long letter was a wasted effort as far as Hartog was concerned. It constituted merely a further provocation. In his reply, Hartog told Shah that ‘your letter does not touch the main question which I put to Mr Gandhi’; and concluded that ‘I am afraid that I am altogether unable to accept your conclusion with regard to the history of literacy in Bengal during the past 100 years, of which there remains a good deal to be said.’
Though it is not fair to compare individuals and to speculate on the motivations which move them, it does seem that at this stage Sir Philip Hartog had feelings similar to those experienced by W.H. Moreland after the latter had read Vincent Smith’s observations (in his book on Akbar the Great Mogul) that ‘the hired landless labourer in the time of Akbar and Jahangir probably had more to eat in ordinary years than he has now.’73 In reviewing the book, Moreland had then said, ‘Mr Vincent Smith’s authority in Indian History is so deservedly great that this statement, if allowed to stand unquestioned, will probably pass quickly into a dogma of the schools; before it does so, I venture to plead for further examination of the data.’74 And from then on, Moreland seems to have set himself the task of countering such a ‘heretical view, and of stopping it from becoming a dogma of the schools.’
Whatever his motivation, Philip Hartog set himself the task of proving Gandhiji wrong on this particular issue. The result was presented in three ‘Joseph Payne Lectures for 1935-36’ delivered at the University of London Institute of Education under the title, Some Aspects of Indian Education: Past and Present.75 the lectures were presented along with three Memoranda: (a) Note on the statistics of literacy and of schools in India during the last hundred years. (b) The Reports of William Adam on Vernacular Education in Bengal and Bihar 1835-38, and the legend of the ‘1,00,000 schools’, and (c) Dr G.W. Leitner and Education in the Panjab 1849-82. These were published in early 1939 by the Oxford University Press under the above title. In Memorandum ‘A’, using the low figures sent by A.D. Campbell for the district of Bellary, Hartog questioned Thomas Munro’s calculation that ‘the proportion of males educated in schools was nearer one-third than one-fourth.’ He countered instead ‘that Munro’s figures may have been over-estimates based on the returns of collectors less careful and interested in education than Campbell.’ Hartog’s conclusion at the end was that ‘until the action taken by Munro, Elphinstone, and Bentinck in the three presidencies, the British Government had neglected elementary education to its detriment in India. But I have found no evidence that it tried to destroy or uproot what existed.’ In a footnote, Hartog further observed: ‘In Great Britain itself it was not until 1833 that the House of Commons made a grant of 30,000 pounds for the purposes of education.’ He also praised various Indian personalities, and more so India’s quaint mixture of ‘most ancient and most modern’.
In his Preface, after referring to ‘the imaginary basis for accusations not infrequently made in India that the British Government systematically destroyed the indigenous system of elementary schools and with it a literacy which the schools are presumed to have created’, Hartog observed: ‘When Mr Gandhi, in an address given at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on 20 October 1931, lent his powerful support to those accusations, and challenged contradiction, it was obviously necessary to re-examine the facts.’76
It may be fair to observe that, despite his considerable learning and experience, Hartog seemed to have lacked both imagination and a sense of history. He was far too committed to the dogmas of pre-1939 Britain. His immigrant Jewish background may have accentuated such an outlook further. Whatever the reasons, it seemed inconceivable to Hartog that late eighteenth, or early nineteenth century India could have had the education and facilities which Gandhiji and others had claimed. Similarly, it had been inconceivable to William Wilberforce, 125 years earlier, that the Hindoos could conceivably have been civilised (as was stated by many British officers and scholars who in Wilberforce’s days had had long personal experience of life in India) without the benefits of Christianity. To Hartog, as also to Edward Thompson, and before them to an extent even to W. Adam, and some of the Madras Presidency Collectors, it was axiomatic that these Indian educational institutions amounted to very little, and that the Indian system had ‘become merely self-perpetuating, and otherwise barren.’
Besides Gandhiji’s statement, two other facts seem to have had quite an upsetting effect on Philip Hartog. The first, already referred to, were the writings of G.W. Leitner. The second seems to have hurt him even more: this was a statement relating to what Hartog called ‘what of the immediate future’. In this context, Hartog noted that, ‘an earnest Quaker missionary has predicted that under the new regime [evidently meaning the post-British regime] there will be a Counter-Reformation in education, which will no longer be Western but Eastern’; and, he observed: ‘Thus India will go back a thousand years and more to the old days...to those days when she gave out a great wealth of ideas, especially to the rest of Asia, but accepted nothing in return.’ Such a prospect was galling indeed to Philip Hartog, burdened as he was—like his illustrious predecessors—with the idea of redeeming India morally as well as intellectually, by pushing it along the western road.
As Gandhiji was the prime cause of this effort, Hartog sent a copy of his lectures to him. He wrote to Gandhiji that he had ‘little doubt that you will find that a close analysis of the facts reveals no evidence to support the statement which you made at the Royal Institute of International Affairs’; adding that Gandhiji ‘will therefore feel justified now in withdrawing that statement.’
Gandhiji replied some months later. His letter had all the ingredients of a classic reply: ‘I have not left off the pursuit of the subject of education in the villages during the pre-British period. I am in correspondence with several educationists. Those who have replied do support my view but do not produce authority that would be accepted as proof. My prejudice or presentiment still makes me cling to the statement I made at Chatham House. I don’t want to write haltingly in Harijan. You don’t want me merely to say that the proof I had in mind had been challenged by you!’
There the matter ended as far as Gandhiji was concerned. On 10 September 1939, however, after learning of Gandhiji’s statement regarding the War in Europe, Hartog wrote him a very grateful letter:
I cannot wait to express to you my profound gratitude, shared, I am sure by an innumerable number of my fellow countrymen, all over the world, for the attitude you have taken up in regard to the present War at your interview with the Viceroy, reported in the Times.
Hartog’s book of lectures led to much immediate writing in India on the subject. Even a new edition of the complete Adam’s Reports was published by the University of Calcutta. Yet, what was written produced the same data and analysis all over again; and, in the main, covered the same ground, and advanced more or less the same arguments as had already been advanced by K.T. Shah in his long letter to Philip Hartog in February 1932.77
The significance of what Gandhiji said at Chatham House in October 1931 ought to have been understood not in the literal way in which Philip Hartog did, but within the total context of Mahatma Gandhi’s address, which attempted to reveal the overall disruption and decline of Indian society and its institutions under British rule. That a great decay had set in by the 1820s, if not a few decades earlier, in the sphere of education was admitted by the Madras Presidency survey, as well as by W. Adam with regard to Bengal and Bihar. In 1822-25, the number of those in ordinary schools was put at over 1,50,000 in the Madras Presidency. Evidently, the inference that the number was appreciably, perhaps a great deal higher some 20 or 30 years earlier, cannot be ruled out. At any rate, nowhere was there any suggestion made that it was much less than it had been in 1822-25. The population of the Madras Presidency in 1823 was estimated at 1,28,50,941, while the population of England in 1811 was estimated at 95,43,610. It may be noted from this that, while the differences in the population of the two regions were not that significant, the numbers of those attending the various types of schools (Charity, Sunday, Circulating) in England were in all in the neighbourhood of around 75,000 as compared to at least double this number within the Madras Presidency. Further, more than half of this number of 75,000 in English schools consisted of those who attended school at the most only for 2-3 hours on a Sunday.
However, after about 1803, every year a marked increase took place in the number of those attending schools in England. The result: the number of 75,000 attending any sort of school around 1800 rose to 6,74,883 by 1818, and 21,44,377 in 1851, i.e. an increase of about 29 times in a period of about fifty years. It is true that the content of this education in England did not improve much during this half century. Neither did the period spent in school increase: from more than an average of one year in 1835 to about two years in 1851. The real implication of Gandhiji’s observation, and of the information provided by the Madras Presidency collectors, W. Adam and G.W. Leitner, is that for the following 50-100 years, what happened in India—within the developing situation of relative collapse and stagnation—proved the reverse of the developments taking place in England. It is such a feeling, and the intuition of such an occurrence, that drove Gandhiji, firstly, to make his observation in London in October 1931, and secondly, disinclined to withdraw it eight years later. Gandhiji seemed to be looking at the issue from a historical, social, and a human viewpoint. In marked contrast, men like Sir Philip Hartog, as so commonly characteristic of the specialist, were largely quibbling about phrases; intent solely on picking holes in what did not fit the prevailing western theories of social and political development.
Statistical comparisons were what Sir Philip Hartog and many others in his time wanted. And these can, to a large extent, settle this debate: some comparison of the 1822-25 Madras school-attending scholars is made here with the Madras Presidency data pertaining to the 1880s and 1890s. Because of incompleteness of the earlier data available from Bengal and Bihar, and also from the Presidency of Bombay,78 such a comparison does not seem possible for these areas, much less for the whole of India.
According to the 1879-80 Report of the Director of Public Instruction for the Madras Presidency, the total number of educational institutions of all types (including colleges, secondary, middle and primary schools, and special, or technical institutions) then numbered 10,553. Out of these, the primary schools numbered 10,106. The total number attending them: 2,38,960 males, and 29,419 females. The total population of the Presidency at this time is stated as 3,13,08,872. While the number of females attending these institutions was evidently larger in 1879-80 compared to 1822-25, the proportionate numbers of males was clearly much reduced. Using the same computation as those applied in 1822-25 (i.e. one-ninth of the total population treated as of school-going age), those of this age amongst the male population (taking males and females as equal) would have numbered 17,39,400. The number of males in primary schools being 2,18,840, the proportion of this age group in schools thus turns out to be 12.58%. This proportion in the decayed educational situation of 1822-25 was put at one-fourth, i.e. at 25%. If one were to take even the total of all those in every type of institution, i.e. the number 2,38,960, the proportion in 1879-80 rises only to 13.74%.
From 1879-80 to 1884-85, there was some increase, however, to be found. While the population went down slightly to 3,08,68,504, the total number of male scholars went up to 3,79,932, and that of females to 50,919. Even this larger number of male scholars came up only to 22.15% of the computed school-age male population; and, of those in primary schools to 18.33%. These figures are much lower than the 1822-25 officially calculated proportion. Incidentally, while there was an overall increase in number of females in educational institutions, the number of Muslim girls in such institutions in the district of Malabar in 1884-85 was only 705. Here it may be recollected that 62 years earlier, in August 1823, the number of Muslim girls in schools in Malabar was 1,122; and, at that time, the population of Malabar would have been below half of that in 1884-85.
Eleven years later in 1895-96, the number in all types of educational institutions increased further. While the population had grown to 3,56,41,828, the number of those in educational institutions had increased to 6,81,174 males, and 1,10,460 females. It is at this time then that the proportion (taking all those males attending educational institutions) rose to 34.4%: just about equal to the proportion which Thomas Munro had computed in 1826 as one-third (33.3%) of those receiving any education whether in indigenous institutions, or at home. Even at this period, i.e. 70 years after Munro’s computation, however, the number of males in primary education was just 28%.
Coming to 1899-1900, the last year of the nineteenth century, the number of males in educational institutions went up to 7,33,923 and of females to 1,29,068. At this period, the number of school-age males was calculated by the Madras Presidency Director of Public Instruction as 26,42,909, thus giving a percentage of 27.8% attending any educational institution. Even taking a sympathetic view of the later data, what clearly comes out of these comparisons is that the proportion of those in educational institutions at the end of the nineteenth century was still no larger than the proportions estimated by Thomas Munro of the number attending the institutions of the decaying indigenous system of the Madras Presidency in 1822-25.
The British authorities in the late nineteenth century must have been tempted—as we find state authorities are in our own times—to show their achievements in brighter hues and thus err on the side of inflating figures: therefore, this later data may be treated with some scepticism. This was certainly not the case with the 1822-25 data which, in the climate of that period, could not have been considered inflated in any sense of the word.
From the above, it may be inferred that the decay which is mentioned in 1822-25 proceeded to grow in strength during the next six decades. During this period, most of the indigenous institutions more or less disappeared. Any surviving remnants were absorbed by the late 19th century British system. Further, it is only after 1890 that the new system begins to equal the 1822-25 officially calculated proportions of males in schools quantitatively. Its quality, in comparison to the indigenous system, is another matter altogether.
The above comparison of the 1822-25 Madras indigenous education data with the data from the 1880s and 1890s period also seems to provide additional support—if such support were required—to the deductions which G.W. Leitner had come to in 1882. These reveal the decline of indigenous education in the Panjab in the previous 35-40 years.
During this prolonged debate, the critical issue that was seldom touched upon and about which in their various ways, the Madras Presidency collectors, the reports of Adam, and the work of Leitner provided a variety of clues, was how all these educational institutions—the 1,00,000 schools in Bengal and Bihar, and a ‘school in every village’ according to Munro and others—were actually organised and maintained. For, it is ridiculous to suppose that any system of such wide and universal dimensions could ever have maintained itself without the necessary conceptual and infrastructural supports over any length of time.
Modern Indians tend to quote foreigners in most matters reflecting on India’s present, or its past. One school of thought uses all such foreign backing to show India’s primitiveness, the barbaric, uncouth and what is termed ‘parochial’ nature of the customs and manners of its people, and the ignorance, oppressions and poverty which Indians are said to have always suffered from. To them India for most of its past had lived at what is termed, the ‘feudal’ stage or what in more recent Marxist terminology is called the ‘system of Asiatic social organisms’. Yet, to another school, India had always been a glorious land, with minor blemishes, or accidents of history here and there; all in all remaining a land of ‘Dharmic’ and benevolent rulers. For yet others subscribing to the observations of the much-quoted Charles Metcalfe, and Henry Maine, it has mostly been a happy land of ‘village republics’.
Unfortunately, due to their British-oriented education, or because of some deeper causes (like the scholastic and hair-splitting tendency of Brahmanical learning), Indians have become since the past century, too literal, too much caught up with mere words and phrases. They have lost practically all sense of the symbolic nature of what is said, or written.79 It is not surprising, therefore, that when Indians think of village republics, what occurs to them is not what the word ‘republic’ implies in substance; but, instead, the visual images of its shell, the elected assembly, the system of voting, etc.
What Charles Metcalfe, and especially Henry Maine wrote on this point was primarily on the basis of the earlier British information, i.e. what had been derived from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century British travellers, administrators, etc., as well as from the writings of other Europeans before them. It implied (and, quite naturally, the British had no particular reason to spell it out for us Indians) that the ‘village’ (it is immaterial how they defined it), to an extent, had all the semblance of the State: it controlled revenue and exercised authority within its sphere. How this ‘village’ State was constituted, (whether in the manner of an oligarchy, or by the representation of the various castes, crafts, or other groups within it, or by representation of all families, or in some other manner), while important in itself as a subject for exploration, was not its basic element. The basic element of this ‘village republic’ was the authority it wielded, the resources it controlled and dispensed, and the manner of such resource utilisation. Notwithstanding all that has been written about empires—Ashokan, Vijayanagar, Mughal, etc., and of ‘oriental despotism’ it is beyond any doubt that throughout its history, Indian society and polity has basically been organised according to non-centralist concepts. This fact is not only brought out in recent research. The eighteenth and early nineteenth century European reports, manuscript as well as published writings also bear evidence to it. That the annual exchequer receipts of Jahangir did not amount to more than 5% of the computed revenue of his empire, and that of Aurangzeb (with all his zeal for maximising such receipts), did not ever exceed 20% is symptomatic of the concepts and arrangements which governed Indian polity.
It can be argued of course that such a non-centralist polity made India politically weak; or, rather, soft in the military sense—given that only hierarchical and centralist states are politically and militarily strong and viable. This may all be true and is worthy of serious consideration. Nonetheless, the first requisite is to understand the nature of Indian society and polity especially as it functioned two or three centuries ago. Further, its various dimensions and contours, strengths and weaknesses need to be known, and not only from European writings but much more so from Indian sources; that is from sources rooted in the traditions and beliefs of various areas, communities, groups, etc.,—with special attention being paid to their own images of the society of which they were a part.
It is suggested here—and there is voluminous data scattered in the British records themselves which confirm the view—that in terms of the basic expenses, both education and medical care, like the expenses of the local police, and the maintenance of irrigation facilities, had primary claims on revenue. It was primarily this revenue which not only maintained higher education, but also—as was sometimes admitted in the British records—the system of elementary education.80 It is quite probable that, in addition to this basic provision, the parents and guardians of the scholars also contributed a little according to their varying capacities by way of presents, occasional feeding of the unprovided scholars, etc., towards the maintenance of the system. But to suppose that such a deep rooted and extensive system which really catered to all sections of society could be maintained on the basis of tuition fees, or through not only gratuitous teaching but also feeding of the pupils by the teachers, is to be grossly ignorant of the actual functioning of the Indian social arrangements of the time.
According to the Bengal-Bihar data of the 1770s and 1780s, the revenues of these areas were divided into various categories in addition to what was called the Khalsa, i.e., the sources whose revenue was received in the exchequer of the ruling authority of the province, or some larger unit. These categories together (excluding the Khalsa), seem to have been allocated or assigned the major proportion of the revenue sources (perhaps around 80% of the computed revenue of any area). Two of these categories were termed Chakeran Zemin, and Bazee Zemin in the Bengal and Bihar records of this period. The former, Chakeran Zemin, referred to recipients of revenue who were engaged in administrative, economic, accounting activities, etc., and were remunerated by assignments of revenue. The latter, Bazee Zemin, referred to those who—according to the British—were in receipt of what were termed ‘religious and charitable allowances’. A substantial portion of these religious allowances was obviously assigned for the maintenance of religious places: largely temples of all sizes and celebrity, but also mosques, dargahs, chatrams, maths, etc. Another part was assigned to the agraharams, or what perhaps were also termed Brahmdeya in South India as well as in Bengal. Yet, other assignments were given over to a variety of persons: to great and other pundits, to poets, to joshis, to medical practitioners, to jesters and even for such purposes as defraying the expenses of carrying Ganga water in areas of Uttar Pradesh to certain religious shrines on certain festivals.81
Regarding the extent of such assignments from Hedgelee in Bengal, it was stated in 1770 that ‘almost one-half of the province is held upon free tenure’ under the Bazee Zemin category.82 The number of these Bazee Zemin (one may reasonably assume the term included individuals, groups as well as institutions) in many districts of Bengal and Bihar was as high as 30,000 to 36,000 recipients for the district. According to H.T. Prinsep,83 in one district of Bengal around 1780, the applications for the registration of Bazee Zemin numbered 72,000.
The position in the Madras Presidency was not very different, even after all the disorganisation, dispossession and demolition of the period 1750-1800, during which the British made themselves masters of the whole area. As late as 1801, over 35% of the total cultivated land in the Ceded Districts (the present Rayalseema area and the Kannada District of Bellary) came under the category of revenue free assignments, and it was the task of Thomas Munro to somehow reduce this quantity to a mere 5% of the total cultivated land. The reduction intended in the Ceded Districts was also carried out in all other districts, earlier in some, and later in others, and in some, the dispossession of such vast numbers of assignees of revenue took a long time.
The returns from the various districts of the Madras Presidency, especially during the years 1805-1820, provide much information on the varied nature of these revenue assignments (or grain, or money allowances). In some measure, these had till then continued to be permitted, or disbursed to a variety of institutions and to individuals in the several districts. Such information usually got collected whenever the government was contemplating some new policy, or some further steps concerning one, or more categories of such assignees, or those to whom any sort of allowances were being paid. As illustrative of such information, a return from the district of Tanjore of April 1813, relating to the money assignments received by 1,013 big and small temples,84—which by this time were mostly minute—and between 350-400 individuals is reproduced at the end of this book (Annexures G and H). These payments amounted at this time to a total of Star Pagodas 43,037 for the temples, and Star Pagodas 5,929 to the individuals, annually. A Star Pagoda was valued at about three and one-half rupee.
What was true of Bengal, Bihar and the Madras Presidency applied equally to other areas: whether of the Bombay Presidency, Panjab, or in the Rajasthan States. The proportions of revenue allocated to particular categories—as far as the British record indicates—also seem fairly similar. It will not be far wrong to assume that about a quarter to one-third of the revenue paying sources (not only land, but also sea ports, etc.) were, according to ancient practice, assigned for the requirements of the social and cultural infrastructure till the British overturned it all.
Further still, the rate of assessment which was paid by cultivators of the revenue assigned lands was fairly low. According to the supervisors of the Bengal Districts in the 1770s and early 1780s, the rate of assessment charged by the Bazee Zemin revenue assignees was around one-quarter to one-third of the rate which the British had begun to demand from the lands which were treated as Khalsa,85 a category which was now just swallowing up practically all the other categories. A more or less similar phenomenon obtained in the various districts of the Madras Presidency—even as late as the 1820s.86 Moreover, though it may seem unbelievable, the area which constituted Malabar had, till about 1750, never been subject to a land tax.87 It had a variety of other mercantile and judicial taxes, but land in Malabar—according to British investigators themselves—never paid revenue of any kind till the peace was wholly shattered by the Europeans, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Even during Tipu’s period, the actual receipts from Malabar were fairly small.
The major dispossession of the various categories of revenue assignees (starting from those who had assignment for the performance of military duties, and who formed the local militias, and going on to those who performed police duties, etc.) started as soon as the British took over de facto control of any area, (i.e. in Bengal and Bihar from 1757-58 onwards). The turn of the Chakeran Zemin and the Bazee Zemin came slightly later. By about 1770, the latter had also begun to be seriously affected. By about 1800, through various means, a very large proportion of these had been altogether dispossessed; and, most of the remaining had their assignments greatly reduced through various devices. Among the devices used was the application of the newly established enhanced rate of assessment even to the sources from which the assignees had received the revenue. This device, to begin with, implied a reduction of the quantity of the assigned source in accordance with the increased rate of assessment. The next step was to reduce—in most cases—the money value itself. The result was that the assignee—whether an individual or an institution—even when allowed a fraction of the previous assignment, was no longer able (because of such steep reduction) to perform the accompanying functions in the manner they had been performed only some decades previously. Those whose assignments were completely abrogated were of course reduced to penury and beggary, if not to a worse fate. Naturally, many of the old functions dependent on such assignments (like teaching, medicine, feeding of pilgrims, etc.), had to be given up because of want of fiscal support, as also due to state ridicule and prohibitions.
There are references (see the annexed reports from some of the Madras Presidency collectors) to certain revenue assignments here and there, and to daily cash or grain allowances received by some of those who were occupied in imparting Sanskritic learning, or Persian, and in some instances even education at the elementary level. A few other collectors also made reference to certain revenue assignments which used to exist in the area (but were said to have been appropriated by Tipu, and that, when the British took over these areas, they formally added such revenue to the total State revenue). The various area reports of the period 1792 to about 1806 make much mention of dispossession of revenue assignees by orders of Tipu in the area over which he had control. But, at the same time, it is also stated that through the connivance of the revenue officers, etc., such dispossession during Tipu’s reign was, in most cases, not operative at all. What Tipu might have intended merely as a threat to opponents, became a de facto reality when these areas came under formal British administration.
But in most areas which the British had conquered (either on behalf of the Nabob of Arcot, or on behalf of the Nizam of Hyderabad, or administered in the name of the various Rajas of Tanjore), most such dispossession was pre-1800. The process started soon after 1750, when the British domination of South India began gathering momentum in the early 1780s and the revenues of the areas claimed by the British to be under the nominal rulership of the Nabob of Arcot were formally assigned over to the British. One major method used to ensure dispossession was to slash down what were termed the ‘District charges’, i.e., the amounts traditionally utilised within the districts, but which, for purposes of accounting, were shown in the records of the Nabob. The slashing down in certain districts like Trichnopoly was up to 93% of the ‘District charges’ allowed until then: a mere 19,143 Star Pagodas now allowed in place of the earlier 2,82,148 Star Pagodas.
The report of the collector of Bellary is best known and most mentioned in the published records on indigenous education.88 It is long and fairly comprehensive, though the data he actually sent was much less detailed. In it, he actually—to the extent a collector could—came out with the statement that the degeneration of education ‘is ascribable to the gradual but general impoverishment of the country’; that ‘the means of the manufacturing classes have been greatly diminished by the introduction of our own European manufactures’; that ‘the transfer of the capital of the country from the native government and their officers, who liberally expanded it in India, to Europeans, restricted by law from employing it even temporarily in India, and daily draining it from the land, has likewise tended to this effect’; that ‘in many villages where formerly there were schools, there are now none’; and that ‘learning, though it may proudly decline to sell its stores, had never flourished in any country except under the encouragement of the ruling power, and the countenance and support once given to science in this part of India has long been withheld.’ In elaboration, he added that ‘of the 533 institutions for education now existing in this district, I am ashamed to say not one now derives any support from the State’; but that ‘there is no doubt, that in former times, especially under the Hindoo Governments very large grants, both in money and in land, were issued for the support of learning’; that the ‘considerable yeomiahs or grants of money, now paid to brahmins in this district...may, I think, be traced to this source’. He concluded with the observation that:
Though it did not consist with the dignity of learning to receive from her votaries hire, it has always in India been deemed the duty of government to evince to her the highest respect, and to grant to her those emoluments which she could not, consistently with her character, receive from other sources; the grants issued by former governments, on such occasions, contained therefore no unbecoming stipulations or conditions. They all purport to flow from the free bounty of the ruling power, merely to aid the maintenance of some holy or learned man, or to secure his prayers for the State. But they were almost universally granted to learned or religious persons, who maintained a school for one or more of the sciences, and taught therein gratuitously; and though not expressed in the deed itself, the duty of continuing such gratuitous instruction was certainly implied in all such grants.89
The Collector of Bellary, A.D. Campbell, was an experienced and perceptive officer, previously having held the post of Secretary of the Board of Revenue, and was perhaps one of Thomas Munro’s favourites. It may be said to Munro’s credit that in his review of 10 March 1826, he did admit in his oblique way that indigenous education ‘has, no doubt, been better in earlier times.’ The fact that it got disrupted, reduced and well-nigh destroyed from the time the British took over de facto control and centralised the revenue, was obviously not possible even for a Governor as powerful as Thomas Munro to state in formal government records.
Illustrations such as the above can be multiplied ad infinitum. It only requires searching the records pertaining to the early period of British rule in different areas of India. With much industry and in a fairly objective manner, Leitner tried to do this for the Panjab. For Gandhiji, an intuitive understanding of what could have happened was enough. He could, therefore, with confidence, reply to Hartog that, ‘my prejudice or presentiment still makes me cling to the statement I made at Chatham House.’
This brings us finally to an assessment of the content of the indigenous system of education. The long letter of the much-quoted A.D. Campbell, collector of Bellary, had been used a century earlier by London to establish that in India reading and writing were acquired ‘solely with a view to the transaction of business’, that ‘nothing whatever is learnt except reading, and with the exception of writing and a little arithmetic, the education of the great majority goes no farther.’
The question of content is crucial. It is the evaluation of content which led to indigenous education being termed ‘bad’ and hence to its dismissal; and, in Gandhiji’s phrase, to its uprooting. Yet it was not ‘the mere reading and writing and a little arithmetic’ which was of any consequence in such a decision. For, school education in contemporary England, except in the sphere of religious teaching, covered the same ground, and probably, much less thoroughly. As mentioned earlier, the average period of schooling in 1835 England was just about one year, and even in 1851, only two. Further, as stated by A.E. Dobbs, ‘in some country schools, writing was excluded for fear of evil consequences.’
While the limitless British hunger for revenue—so forcefully described by Campbell—starved the Indian system of the very resources which it required to survive, its cultural and religious content and structure provoked deliberate attempts aimed at its total extermination. It was imperative to somehow uproot the Indian indigenous system for the relatively undisturbed maintenance and continuance of British rule. It is the same imperative which decided Macaulay, Bentinck, etc., to deliberately neglect large-scale school education—proposed by men like Adam—till a viable system of Anglicised higher education had first been established in the country.
In 1813, this bold intention was publicly and powerfully expressed by William Wilberforce when he depicted Indians as being ‘deeply sunk, and by their religious superstitions fast bound, in the lowest depths of moral and social wretchedness.’90 T.B. Macaulay expressed similar views, merely using different imagery. He commented that the totality of Indian knowledge and scholarship did not even equal the contents of ‘a single shelf of a good European library’, and that all the historical information contained in books written in Sanskrit was ‘less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgement used at preparatory schools in England.’91 To Macaulay, all Indian knowledge, if not despicable, was at least absurd: absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology.
A little later, Karl Marx seems to have had similar impressions of India—this, despite his great study of British state papers and other extensive material relating to India. Writing in the New York Daily Tribune on 25 June 1853, he shared the view of the perennial nature of Indian misery, and approvingly quoted an ancient Indian text which according to him placed ‘the commencement of Indian misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the world.’ According to him, Indian life had always been undignified, stagnatory, vegetative, and passive, given to a brutalising worship of nature instead of man being the ‘sovereign of nature’—as contemplated in contemporary European thought. And, thus Karl Marx concluded: ‘Whatever may have been the crimes of England’ in India, ‘she was the unconscious tool of history’ in bringing about—what Marx so anxiously looked forward to—India’s westernisation.
The complete denunciation and rejection of Indian culture and civilisation was, however, left to the powerful pen of James Mill. This he did in his monumental three volume History of British India, first published in 1817. Thenceforth, Mill’s History became an essential reading and reference book for those entrusted with administering the British Indian Empire. From the time of its publication till recently, the History in fact provided the framework for the writing of most histories of India. For this reason, the impact of his judgments on India and its people should never be underestimated.
According to Mill, ‘the same insincerity, mendacity, and perfidy; the same indifference to the feelings of others; the same prostitution and venality’ were the conspicuous characteristics of both the Hindoos and the Muslims. The Muslims, however, were perfuse, when possessed of wealth, and devoted to pleasure; the Hindoos almost always penurious and ascetic; and ‘in truth, the Hindoo like the eunuch, excels in the qualities of a slave.’ Furthermore, similar to the Chinese, the Hindoos were ‘dissembling, treacherous, mendacious, to an excess which surpasses even the usual measure of uncultivated society.’ Both the Chinese and the Hindoos were ‘disposed to excessive exaggeration with regard to everything relating to themselves.’ Both were ‘cowardly and unfeeling.’ Both were ‘in the highest degree conceited of themselves, and full of affected contempt for others.’ And, above all, both were ‘in physical sense, disgustingly unclean in their persons and houses.’
Compared to the people of India, according to Mill, the people of Europe even during the feudal ages, (and notwithstanding the vices of the Roman Church and the defects of the schoolmen), were superior in philosophy. Further, the Europeans ‘were greatly superior, notwithstanding the defects of the feudal system, in the institutions of Government and in laws.’ Even their poetry was ‘beyond all comparison preferable to the poetry of the Hindoos.’ Mill felt that it was hardly necessary to assert that in the art of war ‘the Hindoos have always been greatly inferior to the warlike nations of Europe.’ The agriculture of the Europeans ‘surpassed exceedingly that of the Hindoos’, and in India the roads were little better than paths, and the rivers without bridges; there was not one original treatise on medicine, considered as a science, and surgery was unknown among the Hindoos. Further still, ‘compared with the slavish and dastardly spirit of the Hindoos’, the Europeans were to be placed in an elevated rank with regard to manners and character, and their manliness and courage.
Where the Hindoos surpassed the Europeans was in delicate manufactures, ‘particularly in spinning, weaving, and dyeing’; in the fabrication of trinkets; and probably in the art of polishing and setting the precious stones; and more so in effeminate gentleness, and the winning arts of address. However, in the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture the Hindoos in no way excelled Europeans. Further, ‘the Hindoo loom, with all its appurtenances, is coarse and ill-fashioned, to a degree hardly less surprising than the fineness of the commodity which it is the instrument of producing.’ The very dexterity in the use of their tools and implements became a point against the Indians. For as James Mill proclaimed: ‘A dexterity in the use of its own imperfect tools is a common attribute of rude society.’
These reflections and judgments led to the obvious conclusion, and Mill wrote:
Our ancestors, however, though rough, were sincere; but under the glossing exterior of the Hindoo lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy. In fine, it cannot be doubted that, upon the whole, the gothic nations, as soon as they became a settled people, exhibit the marks of a superior character and civilisation to those of the Hindoos.92
As to James Mill, so also to Wilberforce, Macaulay, and Karl Marx and the thought and approaches they represented (for it is more as spokesmen of such thinking and approaches that they are important in the context of India rather than as outstanding individuals), the manners, customs and civilisation of India were intrinsically barbarous. And to each of them, India could become civilised only by discarding its Indianness, and by adopting ‘utility as the object of every pursuit’93 according to Mill; by embracing his peculiar brand of Christianity for Wilberforce; by becoming anglicised, according to Macaulay; and for Marx by becoming western. Prior to them, for Henry Dundas, the man who governed India from London for twenty long years, Indians not only had to become subservient to British authority but also had to feel ‘indebted to our beneficence and wisdom for advantages they are to receive’; and, in like manner, ‘feel solely indebted to our protection for the countenance and enjoyment of them’94 before they could even qualify for being considered as civilised.
Given such complete agreement on the nature of Indian culture and institutions, it was inevitable that because of its crucial social and cultural role, Indian education fared as it did. To speed up its demise, it not only had to be ridiculed and despised, but steps also had to be taken so that it was starved out of its resource base. True, as far as the known record can tell, no direct dismantling or shutting up of each and every institution was resorted to, or any other more drastic physical measures taken to achieve this demise. Such steps were unnecessary; the reason being that the fiscal steps together with ridicule, performed the task far more effectively.
An official indication of what was to come was conveyed by London to the Madras Presidency when it acknowledged receipt of the information that a survey of indigenous education had been initiated there, much before the papers of the survey were actually sent to London. The London authorities expressed their appreciation of this initiative. They also approved of the collectors having been cautioned against ‘exciting any fears in the people that their freedom of choice in matters of education would be interfered with.’ However, this approval was followed by the observation: ‘But it would be equally wrong to do anything to fortify them (i.e. the people of the Madras Presidency) in the absurd opinion that their own rude institutions of education are so perfect as not to admit of improvement.’ The very expression of such a view in the most diplomatically and cautiously worded of official instructions was a clear signal. Operatively, it implied not only greater ridicule and denunciation of the Indian system; but further, that any residual fiscal and state support still available to the educational institutions was no longer to be tolerated. Not surprisingly, the indigenous system was doomed to stagnate and die.
The neglect and deliberate uprooting of Indian education, the measures which were employed to this end, and its replacement by an alien and rootless system—whose products were so graphically described later by Ananda Coomaraswamy—had several consequences for India. To begin with, it led to an obliteration of literacy and knowledge of such dimensions amongst the Indian people that recent attempts at universal literacy and education have so far been unable to make an appreciable dent in it. Next, it destroyed the Indian social balance in which, traditionally, persons from all sections of society appear to have been able to receive fairly competent schooling. The pathshalas and madrassahs had enabled them to participate openly and appropriately and with dignity not only in the social and cultural life of their locality but, if they wished, ensured participation at the more extended levels. It is this destruction along with similar damage in the economic sphere which led to great deterioration in the status and socio-economic conditions and personal dignity of those who are now known as the scheduled castes; and to only a slightly lesser extent to that of the vast peasant majority encompassed by the term ‘backward castes’. The recent movements embracing these sections, to a great extent, seem to be aimed at restoring this basic Indian social balance.
And most importantly, till today it has kept most educated Indians ignorant of the society they live in, the culture which sustains this society, and their fellow beings; and more tragically, yet, for over a century it has induced a lack of confidence, and loss of bearing amongst the people of India in general.
What India possessed in the sphere of education two centuries ago and the factors which led to its decay and replacement are indeed a part of history. Even if the former could be brought back to life, in the context of today, or of the immediate future, many aspects of it would no longer be apposite. Yet what exists today has little relevance either. An understanding of what existed and of the processes which created the irrelevance India is burdened with today, in time, could help generate what best suits India’s requirements and the ethos of her people.
1. See Annexures, especially A(i)-(xxx), C, and D(i), (iii)-(iv)h.
2. A. E. Dobbs: Education and Social Movements 1700-1850, London, 1919, p.80, quoting Oxford Commission, 1852, Report, p.19.
3. Ibid, p.83.
4. Ibid, p.104, f.n.l. quoting 7 Henry IV, c.17.
5. Ibid, p.105, quoting 34 & 35 Henry VIII, c.l. This statute dating to 1542-43 A.D., consisting of just one Article after a preamble read, ‘...The Bible shall not be read in English in any church. No women or artificers, prentices, journeymen, servingmen of the degree of yeomen or under, husbandmen, nor labourers, shall read the New Testament in English. Nothing shall be taught or maintained contrary to the King’s instructions. And if any spiritual person preach, teach, or maintain any thing contrary to the King’s instructions or determinations, made or to be made, and shall be thereof convict, he shall for his first offence recant, for his second abjure and bear a fagot, and for his third shall be adjudged an heretic, and be burned and lose all his goods and chattels.’ The statute was entitled ‘An Act for the Advancement of True Knowledge’. This restriction, however, may have completely been lifted by the time the ‘authorised version’ of the Bible (King James’s translation) was published in England in 1611.
6. Ibid, p.104, f.n.3, quoting Strype, Cranmer, i.127
7. Ibid, p.33, f.n.l.
8. Ibid, p.139
9. Ibid, p.139
10. Ibid, p.140
11. Ibid, p.158
12. J.W. Adamson: A Short History of Education, Cambridge, 1919, p.243.
13. Ibid, p.243
14. See Annexure C: Alexander Walker, Note on Indian Education; also Ibid, p.246
15. House of Commons Papers, 1852-53, volume 79, p.718, for the number of schools and pupils in them in 1818 and 1851.
16. Adamson: op.cit., 232
17. Dobbs, op.cit., pp. 157-8 also f.n.1, p.158.
18. Adamson : op.cit., p.266
19. Ibid, p.226
20. Ibid, p.226
21. Writing to the second Earl Spencer on 21 August 1787 William Jones described a serpentine river ‘which meets the Ganges opposite the celebrated University of Brahmans at Navadwipa, or Nuddea, as Rennel writes it. This is the third University of which I have been a member.’ The Letters of Sir William Jones, by G. Cannon. 2 volumes, 1970, p.754.
22. The fourth British University, that of London was established in 1828.
23. The above information is abstracted from The Historical Register of the University of Oxford 1220-1888, Oxford, 1888, mostly from pp.45-65.
24. The foregoing four paragraphs are based on information supplied by the University of Oxford in November 1980 on request from the author.
25. For instance according to her doctoral thesis presented in April 1980 at the Sorbonne, Paris, Gita Dharampal: Etude sur le role des missionaries europeens dans la formation premiers des idees sur l’Inde, an early eighteenth century manuscript still has several copies extant. The manuscript is titled Traite de la Religion des Malabars, and its first copy was completed in 1709 by Tessier de Queraly, procurator of the Paris Foreign Mission in Pondicherry from 1699 to 1720, nominated Apostolic Vicar of Siam in 1727. Copies of this Ms. are to be found in the following archives: Paris (Bibliotheque Nationale 3 copies, Bibliotheque de L’Arsenal 1 copy, Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve 1 copy, Archives Nationales 1 copy); Chartres (Bibliotheque Municipale 1 copy, formerly belonging to the Governor Benoit Dumas), London (India Office Libr. 2 copies in Col Mackenzie’s and John Leyden’s collections respectively); Rome 1 copy (Biblioteca Casanatesa, containing Vatican collection). Published as La Religion Des Malabars, Immense, 1982.
26. See the author’s Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century: Some Contemporary European Accounts. Other India Press, 2000, for Prof John Playfair’s long article on Indian astronomy, pp.48-93.
27. Edinburgh University: Dc.177: letters from Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, letter dated 9.4.1775.
28. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Office: Melville Papers: GD 51/3/617/1-2, Prof A. Maconochie to Henry Dundas.
29. Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland: Ms.546, Alex Abercomby forwarding a further memorandum from Prof Maconochie to Henry Dundas, March 1788. The memorandum was communicated to Lord Cornwallis by Henry Dundas on 7.4.1788.
30. HANSARD: June 22, 1813; columns 832, 833.
31. HANSARD: June 22 and July 1, 1813: Debate on Clause No.13 of the India Charter Bill, titled in HANSARD as ‘Propagation of Christianity in India’.
32. Report on the state of Education in Bengal, 1835. p.6.
33. House of Commons Papers, 1812-13, volume 7, evidence of Thomas Munro, p.127.
34. House of Commons Papers, 1831-32, volume 9, p.468. Prendergast’s statement may be treated with some caution as it was made in the context of his stand that any expenditure on the opening of any schools by the British was undesirable. As a general impression of a senior British official, however, corroborated by similar observations relating to other parts of India, its validity appears beyond doubt.
35. See, for instance, the discussion on relative Indian and British agricultural wages in the Edinburgh Review, volume 4, July 1804.
36. Philip Hartog, Ibid, p.74.
37. This, however, may have resulted more from a relatively easier Indian climate than from any physical and institutional arrangements.
38. That is those belonging to the Brahman, Kshetriya and Vaisya varnas, but excluding the Soodras and castes outside the four varna division.
39. It may fairly be assumed that the term ‘other castes’ used in the Madras Presidency survey in the main included those who today are categorised amongst the scheduled castes, and many of whom were better known as ‘Panchamas’ some 70-80 years ago.
40. Annexure A (viii)
41. Given at Annexures B and C. Further, in the Public Despatch to Bengal from London dated 3 June 1814, it was observed: ‘The mode of instruction that from time immemorial has been practised under these masters has received the highest tributes of praise by its adoption in this country, under the direction of the Reverend Dr. Bell, formerly chaplain at Madras; and it has now become the mode by which education is conducted in our national establishments, from a conviction of the facility it affords in the acquisition of language by simplifying the process of instruction.’
42. Annexure A (xxii)
43. Annexure A (xxiii)
44. These surveys began to be made from 1812 onwards, and their main purpose was to find out what number of such medical men were in receipt of assignments of revenue. Some details of the castes of these practitioners may be found in Madras Board of Revenue Proceedings of 17 September 1821, and of 9 March 1837, and other proceedings referred to therein.
45. Annexure A (xx) a.
46. Annexure A (xi).
47. Annexure A (x)
48. Annexure A (xxvii).
49. This observation of the Collector of Guntoor is corroborated by W. Adam wherein he mentions that at Nadia many scholars came from ‘remote parts of India, especially from the South’ (W. Adam, p.78, 1941 edition)
50. Annexure A (xix)
51. Annexure A (xxiii)
52. It may be mentioned that Persian schools (in all about 145 in the Presidency) were predominantly attended by Muslims, and only a few Hindoos seem to have attended them (North Arcot: Hindoos 2, Muslims 396). However, quite a number of Muslim girls were reported to be attending these schools.
53. Annexure A (xx)
54. Annexure A (xxviii)
55. As in many other instances, it was unthinkable for the British that India could have had a proportionately larger number receiving education than those in England itself. Such views and judgements in fact were applied to every sphere and even the rights of the Indian peasantry were tailored accordingly. On the rights of the cultivator of land in India, the Fifth Report of the House of Commons stated: ‘It was accordingly decided, “that the occupants of land in India could establish no more right, in respect to the soil, than tenantry upon an estate in England can establish a right to the land, by hereditary residence:” and the meerassee of a village was therefore defined to be, a preference of cultivation derived from hereditary residence, but subject to the right of government as the superior lord of the soil, in what way it chooses, for the cultivation of its own lands.’ (House of Commons Papers, 1812, Volume VII, p.105)
56. Annexures A (xx) and (xiv)
57. While the caste-wise break up of the Madras Presidency school and college scholars has hitherto not been published, the separate figures for Hindoos and Muslims and those respectively divided into males and females were published as early as 1832 in the House of Commons Papers. Since then, it may be presumed that this data regarding the number of girls and boys in Malabar schools has been seen by a large number of scholars studying the question of education in India in the early nineteenth century. Curiously, however, there does not seem to be even a passing reference to this Malabar data in any of the published works. It seems to have been overlooked by Sir Philip Hartog also.
58. Adam’s Reports were first published in 1835, 1836 and 1838. The three, together with some omissions, and a 60-page rather depressing and patronising introduction were published by Rev. J. Long from Calcutta in 1868. Still another edition of the whole (reintroducing the omissions made by Long and including Long’s own introduction) with a further new 42-page introduction by Anathnath Basu was published by the University of Calcutta, in 1941. It is this last edition which is used in the present work. The reports, while never sufficiently analysed, have often been quoted in most works on the history of education in India.
59. W. Adam: Ibid, pp.6-7. Incidentally the observation that every village had a school was nothing peculiar to Adam. As mentioned earlier, many others before him had made similar observations, including Thomas Munro in his evidence to a House of Commons committee. Munro had then observed that ‘if civilization is to become an article of trade’ between England and India, the former ‘will gain by the import cargo.’ As symptomatic of this high state of Indian civilisation, he also referred to ‘schools established in every village for teaching, reading, writing and arithmetic.’ When Thomas Munro made this statement he already had had 30 years of intensive Indian experience. (House of Commons Papers: 1812-13, Vol .7, p.131).
60. See Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century: some contemporary European accounts, pp.143-63, for an account of this old method.
61. This, as may be noticed, was quite at variance with the Madras Presidency districts where Persian was not only studied little, but the students of it were mainly Muslims. Interestingly, Adam mentions (p.149) that amongst the Muslims ‘when a child...is four years, four months, and four days old’, he, or she is on that day usually admitted to school.
62. History of Indigenous Education in the Panjab since Annexation and in 1882 (Published 1883, Reprinted, Patiala, 1973).
63. The idea of their being divinely ordained was really a much older English assumption. In A Brief Description of New York Formerly called New-Netherlands, published in 1670, referring to the indigenous people in that part of North America, Daniel Denton observes: ‘It is to be admired, how strangely they have decreast by the Hand of God, since the English first settling of those parts; for since my time, where there were six towns, they are reduced to two small villages, and it hath been generally observed, that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Indians either by wars one with the other, or by some raging mortal Disease.’ (Reprint 1902 p.45)
64. See letter of Dr H. Scott to Sir Joseph Banks, President, Royal Society, London, dated 7.1.1790 in Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, p.265.
65. First published in New York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853; also recently quoted by Iu.I. Semenov ‘Socio-economic Formations and World History,’ in Soviet and Western Anthropology, edited by Ernest Gellner, 1980.
66. Current Anthropology, Volume 7, No. 4, October 1966, pp.395-449, Estimating Aboriginal American Population, by Henry F. Dobyns.
67. Writing as early as 1804, William Bentinck, the young Governor of the Madras Presidency, wrote to the President of the Board of Control, Lord Castlereagh, that ‘we have rode the country too hard, and the consequence is that it is in the most lamentable poverty.’ (Nottingham University: Bentinck Papers: Pw Jb 722). In 1857-58 a military officer wrote to Governor General Canning, ‘it may be truly said that the revenue of India has hitherto been levied at the point of the bayonet’ and considered this to be the major cause of the Mutiny. (Leeds: Canning Papers: Military Secretary’s Papers: Misc. No.289).
68. International Affairs, London, November 1931, pp.721-739; also Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.48, pp.193-206.
69. See origins of the School of Oriental Studies, London Institution, by P.J. Hartog, C.I.E., M.A., 1917.
70. A graphic image of the more privileged products of this British initiated education was given by Ananda K Coomaraswamy as early as 1908. Coomaraswamy then wrote: ‘Speak to the ordinary graduate of an Indian University, or a student from Ceylon, of the ideals of the Mahabharata—he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy—you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago, and that not only has he no religion, but is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman; talk to him of Indian music—he will produce a gramophone or a harmonium and inflict upon you one or both; talk to him of Indian dress or jewellery—he will tell you that they are uncivilised and barbaric; talk to him of Indian art—it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate for you a letter written in his own mother-tongue—he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.’ (Modern Review, Calcutta, vol 4, Oct. 1908 p.338).
71. January 1932, pp.151-82.
72. Also in House of Commons Papers: 1831-32, vol. 9, p.468.
73. Clarendon Press, 1917, p.394.
74. In Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1917, pp.815-25.
75. Philip Hartog’s lectures were announced in the London Times, (March 1,4,6,1935) and two of them reported in it on March 2 and 5. On 2 March the Times reported that Sir Philip Hartog, ‘submitted that under successive Governor Generals, from Warren Hastings to Lord Chelmsford, an educational policy was evolved as part of a general policy to govern India in the interest of India, and to develop her intellectual resources to the utmost for her own benefit.’ It is interesting, however, to note that the Times, while it gave fairly constant though brief notices to Gandhiji’s 1931 visit to England, and some of the public meetings he addressed and the celebration of his birthday, the meeting at Chatham House did not reach its pages. It was not only not reported the next day, October 21, 1931, but was also not announced along with various other notices of various other meetings, etc., on the morning of October 20. Possibly it was a convention not to report any meetings at Chatham House in newspapers.
76. The Book of Lectures was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement under the caption ‘Mr Gandhi Refuted’. Complimenting Hartog, the review stated: ‘There are many deserved criticisms of past British administrators in this particular field, but other charges dissolve into thin air when exposed to the searching analysis Sir Philip Hartog has applied to a statement of Mr Gandhi...Sir Philip took up the challenge at once...he shows how facts were distorted to fit an educational theory.’
77. The text of Hartog-Gandhi correspondence is given at Annexures F (i)-(xxv).
78. The available material on the survey of indigenous education in the Presidency of Bombay has been brought out in a valuable book Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay 1820-30 by R.V. Parulekar in 1951. This survey, however, appears to have covered only certain parts of the Bombay Presidency.
79. Judging from their products, in a certain sense, this may apply even more to the writings on India by most non-Indians. Their writings on various aspects of Indian society and polity will obviously be influenced, if not wholly conditioned, by their respective cultural and educational ethos. Even when some of them—Alexander Walker in the early 19th century and Prof. Burton Stein today—appear to understand India better, it is not really for them to map out how Indians should end up perceiving themselves or their own society. Such a task can legitimately only be undertaken by India itself.
80. Public Despatch to Bengal, 3 June 1814: ‘We refer with particular satisfaction upon this occasion to that distinguished feature of internal polity which prevails in some parts of India, and by which the instruction of the people is provided for by a certain charge upon the produce of the soil, and other endowments in favour of the village teachers, who are thereby rendered public servants of the community.’
81. The revenue records of all areas, especially of the years 1770-90 for the Bengal Presidency, and of 1801-20 for the Madras Presidency provide very extensive information regarding such assignments. The information regarding assignments for the purpose of carrying Ganga water to religious shrines is taken from Mafee Register for 1847 for the district of Hamirpur and Kalpi in the Uttar Pradesh State Archives at Allahabad.
82. I.O.R. Factory Records: G/27/1, Supervisor Houghly to Murshedabad Council, 10.10.1770, p.88.
83. In a note dated circa 1830.
84. The total number of maths and temples in Tanjore about this time was around 4,000.
85. I.O.R. Factory Records: G/6/4. Proceedings of Burdwan Council on Beerbhoom, 24.5.1775.
86. The problem of peasants deserting sirkar lands (i.e. lands paying revenue to government) because of the exhorbitant rate of government assessment even in the 1820s was of such frequency that it was deliberated upon by Thomas Munro as Governor of Madras in November 1822. At that time Munro observed that ‘it would be most satisfactory if the sirkar ryots were induced to give a voluntary preference to the sirkar land’ and felt that the rest of the village community paying revenue to government should not ‘allow a ryot to throw up sirkar land liable to adjustment merely that he may occupy Enam land which is liable to none.’ But if such ‘inducement’ did not work Munro was of the view, that ‘if necessary, measures for the protection of the rights of government may be directed more immediately to the Enamdars, either by taking their Enams or by resuming them.’ (Tamil Nadu state Archives: Board of Revenue Proceedings: volume 930, Proceedings 7.11.1822, pp.10292-96).
87. For fairly detailed information on Malabar, see the voluminous Report of Commissioner Graeme, 16.7.1822 in TNSA: Revenue Consultations, especially volume 277A.
88. Annexure A (xxi), Philip Hartog, who made much play of this reply, as mentioned earlier, used it to throw doubt on the educational data from the other districts. It is possible that because of his contrary concerns, he was not able to comprehend this report fully.
89. Bellary was part of the Ceded Districts and was administered from 1800-7 by Thomas Munro. As mentioned earlier, it was here that Munro seemed outraged by the fact that 35% of the total cultivated land was still being assigned for various local purposes, and expressed his determination to reduce it to as low as 5% of the total revenue of the Ceded Districts. Munro at that time also advocated the imposition of an income-tax of about 15% on all those (revenue assignees, as well as merchants, artisans, labourers and the rest) who did not pay land revenue. The Madras Government accepted his recommendation and this tax, under various names, (Veesabuddy, Mohtarpha, etc.) was imposed not only in the Ceded Districts but also in many other districts of the Madras Presidency.
It is this background of exhorbitant taxation and the cutting down of all expenses, even on the repair of irrigation sources that largely led to the conversion of Bellary and Cuddapah into the latter day arid and impoverished areas. Quite naturally, then, the educational returns from Bellary were low.
90. Hansard: June 22, 1813.
91. Minute on Indian Education: March 1835.
92. J.S. Mill, History of British India, 1817, vol. I, pp.344, 351-2, 466-7, 472, 646.
93. Ibid, p.428.
94. Revenue Despatch to Madras: 11.2.1801.
Minute of Governor Sir Thomas Munro
Ordering THE COLLECTION OF DETAILED INFORMATION ON Indigenous Education:
(TNSA: Revenue Consultations: Vol.920: dated 2.7.1822)
1. Much has been written both in England and in this country about the ignorance of the people of India and the means of disseminating knowledge among them. But the opinions upon this subject are the mere conjectures of individuals unsupported by any authentic documents and differing so widely from each other as to be entitled to very little attention. Our power in this country and the nature of its own municipal institutions have certainly rendered it practicable to collect material from which a judgment might be formed of the state of the mental cultivation of the people. We have made geographical and agricultural surveys of our provinces. We have investigated their resources and endeavoured to ascertain their population, but little or nothing has been done to learn the state of education. We have no record to show the actual state of education throughout the country. Partial inquiries have been made by individuals, but those have taken place at distant periods—and on a small scale and no inference can be drawn from them with regard to the country in general. There may be some difficulty in obtaining such a record as we want. Some Districts will not—but others probably will furnish it—and if we get it only from two or three it will answer in some degree for all the rest. It cannot be expected to be very accurate, but it will at least enable us to form an estimate of the state of instructions among the people. The only record which can furnish the information required is a list of the schools in which reading and writing are taught in each district showing the number of scholars in each and the caste to which they belong. The Collectors should be directed to prepare this document according to the form which accompanies this paper. They should be desired to state the names of the book generally read at the schools. The time which scholars usually continue, at such schools. The monthly or yearly charge to the scholars and whether any of the schools are endowed by the public and if so the nature and amount of the fund. When there are colleges or other institutions for teaching Theology, Law, Astronomy, etc. an account should be given of them. These sciences are usually taught privately without fee or reward by individuals to a few scholars or disciples, but there are also some instances in which the native governments have granted allowances in money and land for the maintenance of the teachers.
2. In some districts, reading and writing are confined almost entirely to Bramins and the mercantile class. In some they extend to other classes and are pretty general among the Patails of villages and principal Royets. To the women of Bramins and of Hindoos in general they are unknown because the knowledge of them is prohibited and regarded as unbecoming of the modesty of the sex and fit only for public dancers. But among the women of the Rujbundah and some other tribes of Hindoos who seem to have no prejudice of this kind, they are generally taught. The prohibition against women learning to read is probably from various causes, much less attended to in some districts than in others and as it is possible that in every district a few females may be found in the reading schools, a column has been entered for them in the Form proposed to be sent to the Collector. The mixed and impure castes seldom learn to read, but as a few of them do, columns are left for them in the Form.
3. It is not my intention to recommend any interface whatever in the native schools. Everything of this kind ought to be carefully avoided, and the people should be left to manage their schools in their own way. All that we ought to do is to facilitate the operations of these schools by restoring any funds that may have been diverted from them and perhaps granting additional ones, where it may appear advisable. But on this point we shall be better able to judge when we receive the information now proposed to be called for.
25th June 1822. (Signed)
in consequence that the
following letter be despatched:
The President and Members of the Board of Revenue
I am directed to state that it is considered by the Honourable the Governor-in-Council to be an object of interest and of importance to obtain as accurate information as may be procurable with regard to the actual state of education throughout the country, and to desire that the several Collectors may be required to furnish such information according to the accompanying Form. Besides reporting the number of schools in which reading and writing are taught, the number of scholars in each and the castes to which they belong, the Collectors should state the time which scholars usually continue at school, the monthly or yearly charge to the scholars, whether any of the schools are endowed by the public and in such cases the nature and amount of the fund. When there are colleges or other institutions for teaching Theology, Law, Astronomy, etc., an account of them should be given. These sciences are usually taught privately to a few scholars or disciples by individuals without any fee or reward, but there are also some instances in which the native government has granted allowances in money and land for the maintenance of the teachers.
Although generally education is confined to particular castes and is not extended to females, yet as there are exceptions, which in certain districts may be numerous, the accompanying Form is adopted to include them.
It is to be clearly understood by the Collectors that no interference whatever with the native school is intended. Everything of that kind should be carefully avoided and the people should be left to manage their schools in their own way. All that ought to be done is to facilitate the operation of the schools, by restoring any funds that may have been diverted from them and perhaps granting additional funds where it may appear advisable.
Fort St. George, D. Hill,
2nd July 1822. Secretary to Government
CIRCULAR—FORT ST. GEORGE—25TH JULY 1822
(TNSA: BRP—Vol.920, Pro. 25.7.1822, pp.6971-72 No.7)
1. I am directed by the Board of Revenue to transmit to you the accompanying copy of a letter with its enclosure from the Secretary to Government in the Revenue Department, and to desire that you will submit the required information together with a statement in the prescribed Form at your earliest convenience.
2. In calling for the information from the different parts of your Collectorate, you will cause your public servants clearly to understand, and to make known to the people that no interference with the schools is intended, though every assistance will be given to facilitate their operations and to restore any funds which may appear to have been diverted from their original purposes.
Fort St. George, R. Clarke,
25th July 1822. Secretary
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR, CANARA TO BOARD
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.924 Pro.5.9.1822, pp.8425-29 Nos.35-6)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 25th ultimo, together with its enclosure being copy of letter from the Secretary to Government Revenue Department dated 2nd July directing me to forward a statement filled up as per Form transmitted, and to report upon the state of education in this zillah.
As the preparation of the necessary information to fill up the statement in question, would take up a considerable time and as any just criterion of the actual extent of such schools as exist in this zillah cannot be formed upon it, I have considered it expedient to submit this address, explanatory of the foregoing causes, which will I think show the preparation of the document for this Province unnecessary.
2. There are no colleges in Canara for the cultivation of the abstruse Sciences. Neither are there any fixed schools and masters to teach in them.
There is no instance known of any institutions of the above description having ever received support in any shape from the former governments.
3. The education of the few Bramin children of the higher classes in towns or villages, is conducted in the house of the principal man. He selects a teacher, who receives for each child a small sum, a present of cloth at particular ceremonies, and the same for a few others, children of the friends of the principal man, who also meet at his own house for the same purpose. The Moolla* in the same manner teaches a few Mussulman children on the same principle. It is entirely a private education, and the master is as often changed as the scholars. There is nothing belonging to it which can assimilate it with a shadow of public education, or indeed of regularity in learning.
The children are taught to read and write and accounts, and unless belonging to the highest classes, the attainment of Persian and Hindwy and Canarese at the same time is seldom or ever pursued. Indeed, amongst those classes, it is so entirely a private tuition, that any estimate of the numbers of their children learning such languages could not be but erroneous.
4. Education is undoubtedly at its lowest ebb in Canara. To the Bramins of the country the Conkanny and Shinnawee and to the 2nd class of the former, the little education given, is confined. Amongst the farmers, generally speaking, and probably amongst one half of its population, the most common forms of education are unknown and in disuse, or more correctly speaking were never in use.
5. As applicable to the subject I beg leave to introduce an extract from a letter to the assistant surgeon of the zillah, written to him in consequence of a wish on the part of the Superintendent General of Vaccination to obtain information from me, on the practicability of inducing the upper classes of natives in Canara, to undertake the situations of practitioners, who from their supposed superior attainments would be enabled to facilitate the progress of vaccination.
Extract of Paras 6th, 7th and 8th
6. I have stated that I consider there is no objection to the Christian practitioner, but with regard to employment of men of the other various castes in this district, causes exist which I am led to believe would render the attempt futile. The mass of people are cultivators, there are no manufactures to speak of in Canara, it is a country of cottages dispersed in valleys and jungles, each man living upon his estate and hence there are few towns, even these are thinly populated. Hence I am led to conjecture from a lesser congregation of people the Arts and Sciences have never, at least in later times, become of that consequence in Canara to cause them to be taught and cherished. Probably there is no District in the Peninsula so devoid of artists or scientific men.
7. The soil of Canara is the natives undoubted right, gained by the first of all claims, the original clearing of it for cultivation. Thus, to this day his detestation of quitting his house and the fields by which it is surrounded. For those wants to which he is thus naturally exposed for cloth and for the various necessities of life which his land does not yield him, he is indebted to the few bazar men in the very few towns in each talook; these men chiefly Concanese are again indebted to their more opulent brethren established on the coast for supplies which are bartered for the products of the soil. These again are confined to three or four principal articles so that they do not afford room for much individual foreign enterprise, and consequently the provision of them remains with the people, who, have ever retained it, and thus strangers are in a great degree excluded from the country.
8. From these causes I certainly consider the general want of Men of Science originates, and also that men, where their occupation is so entirely taken up with one pursuit would not be induced to quit it on any account, much less for the occupation of a travelling vaccinator.
6. Subsequently to my arrival in Canara, I had endeavored to persuade some of the original farmers, the Bunts, to send their nephews (for they are the heirs, not the sons) to Mangalore for education—without success. A Christian school has been established in which Latin and Portuguese alone are taught.
7. Should the Board after this explanation still consider the preparation of the Form transmitted with their letter, desirable, and according to the views of the government, I shall endeavor to obtain the particulars. It will be, I beg to repeat, a very fallacious statement. Amongst the numerous servants of this extensive Collectorate there is but one, who writes Persian; the literary knowledge of all others is confined to Hindwy and Canarese. Even Sanscrit is very partially known, and the Ballabund is confined to a very few of the class of Bramins who read the Shastras. Amongst this latter class I have found many, who could not read some of the ancient inscriptions, which they assert are in a different character from the Hala Canarese, and Ballabund they were taught.
Principal Collector’s Cutcherry,
27th August, 1822.
(Order thereon)—35-36 T. Harris,
Ordered to lie on the table: Principal Collector.
COLLECTOR OF TINNEVELLY TO BOARD
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.928 Pro.28.10.1822 pp.9936-7 No.46-7)
I have the honor of forwarding the Statement of Schools in this District required by your Deputy’s letter of the 25th July last.
The preparation of the account has been delayed by enquiry into the castes of the female scholars, who in almost all instances are found to be dancing girls.
Sharenmadavy, J.B. Hudleston
18th October 1822. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
ASSISTANT COLLECTOR, SERINGAPATAM TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.929 Pro.4.11.1822 pp.10260-2 Nos.33&4)
1. I have the honor to transmit in conformity to the instructions conveyed in your letter of the 25th July last, a statement exhibiting the number of seminaries within this zillah.
2. The extent of information acquired under the present prevailing system of education is extremely limited—nothing more is professed to be taught in these day-schools than reading, writing, and arithmetic, just competent for the discharge of the common daily transactions of society.
3. There are no traces on record, as far as I can ascertain, of endowments in land towards the support of colleges and schools having at a former period been granted either by the then existing government or any patriotic private individuals. The superintendents of the different seminaries were left for remuneration, entirely to the parents of the respective students frequenting them, and which system obtains to the present day.
4. It appears that for each pupil the preceptor receives 5 annas monthly which makes the total annual expenditure for the purposes of education within the Island of Seringapatam amount to rupees 2,351 and annas 4. This sum, divided amongst 41 superintendents, gives each on an average the very inadequate and trifling income of rupees 57 annas 5 and pice 5.
Seringapatam H. Vibart
29th October 1822. Assistant Collector in charge.
(Statement on following page)
COLLECTOR, TINNEVELLY TO BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP Vol.931, Pro.18.11.1822 No.37, pp.10545-6)
I have now the honor of forwarding a complete account of schools in this district according to the prescribed Form. The accounts from the talook of Punjamahl not having been received at the time of my sending those of the other talooks.
The total under the head of population appears to have been erroneous, and is correctly given in the statement, now sent:
Tinnevelly, J.B. Hudleston,
7th November 1822. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR, COIMBATORE TO
BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.932, Pro.2.12.1822, pp.10939-943, No.43)
The President and Members of the Board of Revenue
1. I have the honor to forward the information called for in Mr Clarke’s letter of the 25th July 1882 regarding the schools in the district.
2. The statement No.1 is drawn up after the Form which accompanied Mr Clarke’s letter.
The statement No.2 shows the particular language taught in each school, the number of pupils, the average amount of stipends paid by parents, to the teachers, the average annual charge to pupils for the purchase of cadjans.
The statement No.3 shows the number of institutions in which Theology, Law and Astronomy are taught, the number of pupils educated in them, and the amount of maximum land granted by the Hindu Government, for their support, and assumed either by the Mussulman, or by the British Government.
3. The earliest age at which boys attend school is 5 years, they continue there until they are 13 or 14. Those who study Theology, Law, etc., begin at about 15 and continue to frequent the colleges until they have attained a competent knowledge in the Science, or until they obtain employment.
4. Besides their regular stipends, school masters generally receive presents, from the parents of their pupils, at the Dassarah and other great feasts; a fee is also given when the pupil begins a new book. The annual stipend from one pupil varies from Rs.14 to Rs.3 per annum, according to the circumstances of the parents. The school hours are from 6 a.m. to 10, and from 1 to 2 p.m. until 8 at night. Besides the several festivals they have regular holidays, 4 days in each month on the full moon, the new moon, and a day after each.
5. The education of females is almost entirely confined in this district to the dancing women, who are generally of the Kykeler caste, a class of weavers. There are exceptions to this rule, but the numbers are too insignificant to require notice.
6. There is a school for teaching English in the town of Coimbatore, which is superintended by an English writer belonging to this Cutcheree.
Coimbatore, (Signed) J. SULLIVAN,
23rd November 1822. Principal Collector.
(Statements on following pages)
COLLECTOR OF MADURA TO BOARD OF REVENUE: 5.2.1823
(TNSA: BRP—Vol.942, Pro.13.2.1823, pp.2402-406 No.21)
1. I had previous to the receipt of the instructions of government made some little inquiry into the state of the schools in this district and have endeavoured to ascertain, should their number be increased, if the poorer classes would be induced to bring their children to them, to be educated amongst the lower class; I see little hope of such an improvement. They say as they are poor, their children are better employed in attending bullocks, etc., by which they gain a livelihood, than being at school. In the Fort of Madura and the different Cusbah villages some schools might be established with advantage. Many people of caste would, I have no doubt, send their children to such schools, and as the benefit derivable from education began gradually to develop itself, the numbers would increase. Five or 6 schools in the Fort of Madura, and 2 or 3 in each of the Cusbahs, granting the masters a small monthly salary of 30 to 40 fanams* would be sufficient, and I have no doubt the Heads of Villages would be induced to send their children there, which would render such establishments most desirable as very few Nattawkars throughout the district can either read or write, and are consequently totally dependent on the Curnams.
2. From the statement it would seem, that in a population of nearly 800,000, there are stated to be only 844 schools, and in them 13,781 children educated. That the number should be increased must be wished for.
3. From the several statements received from the different divisions, it does not appear that any Mauneom lands are enjoyed for the purpose of schools; but that the teachers are paid by the poorer classes of people from ½ to 1 fanam for each scholar per month, and from 2 to 3 and 5 fanams by those in better circumstances, and that a teacher derives from 30 to 60 cully fanams** per month in large villages, and from 10 to 30 fanams in small villages—scholars usually first attend school at the age of 5 and leave it from 12 to 15.
4. In Agrahrom villages inhabited by Bramins, it has been usual from time immemorial to allot for the enjoyment of those who study the Vaidoms (Religion), and Pooraunoms (Historical traditions), an extent of Mauneom land yielding from 20 to 50 fanams per annum, and in a few but rare instances to the extent of 100 fanams, and they gratuitously and generally instruct such pupils as may voluntarily be brought to them.
5. Female children devoted for the profession of dancing girls at the Hindoo temples are only instructed at schools.
Teroomungalom, R. Peter,
5th February, 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR, TANJORE TO
BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.953, Pro.3.7.1823 pp.5345-5347 No.61)
With reference to your Secretary’s letter of the 25th of July last, and its enclosures, I have the honor now to transmit a statement in the prescribed Form, prepared from the Returns received from the Tasildars of the number of schools and colleges in this District accompanied by two other statements Nos.1 and 2, more in detail, which will I expect, afford every information, that your Board and government desire to receive on the subject, being necessary for me only to add that it does not appear, any funds granted for these institutions, have been either resumed or diverted from their original purpose.
Tanjore Negapatam, J. Cotton,
28th June, 1823. Principal Collector.
(Statement on following pages)
COLLECTOR, MADRAS TO BOARD OF REVENUE: 13.11.1822
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.931, Pro.14.11.1822 pp.10, 512-13 No.57-8)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter under date the 25th July last, with one from government and to forward the statement therein called for.
2. Adverting to the Orders of Government above referred to I beg leave to submit the information I have been able to obtain on the several questions connected with the system of education adopted in this Collectorate.
3. The schools enumerated in the statement comprise only those in which the various descriptions of the Hindoo and Mussulman children are educated.
4. These children are sent to school when they are above five years old and their continuance in it depends in a great measure on their mental faculties, but it is generally admitted that before they attain their thirteenth year of age, their acquirement in the various branches of learning are uncommonly great, a circumstance very justly ascribed to an emulation and perseverance peculiar only to the Hindoo castes.
5. Astronomy, Astrology, etc., are in some instances taught to the children of the poorer class of Bramins gratis, and in certain few cases an allowance is given proportionate to the circumstances of the parents or guardians.
6. In this Collectorate there are no schools endowed by the public. Those denominated ‘Charity schools’ include a few institutions of that description under the immediate control of the missionary society. The scholars in them are therefore of various sects and persuasions.
7. These Charity schools are abolished at the pleasure of their supporters.
8. The allowances paid to each of the teachers in a school seldom exceed 12 pagodas per annum for every scholar.
Madras Cutcherry, L.G.K. Murray,
13th November 1822. Collector.
(Statement on next page)
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR, NORTH ARCOT DISTRICT TO
BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.944, Pro.10.3.1823, pp.2806-16 No.20-1)
1. Accompanying I have the honor to forward a statement of the colleges and other institutions in this District for the education of pupils.
2. In addition to the Form received with your Secretary’s letter I have prepared an abstract, showing the different descriptions of these institutions, and the means by which they are supported.
3. Those receiving endowments from the government are as follows. The Persian schools at Arcot, mention of which was made in Mr Chamier’s letter, transmitted by me to your Board under date 10th December 1822.
4. Some colleges (28) are established in different parts of the district, the expenses of which are defrayed from Mauneoms and Mairas, which have been granted by former governments on this account, and which are still appropriated to these purposes, the total of their amount is Rs.516-11-9.
5. A Persian School in the Sautgud talook is also supported on the grant of a Yeomiah of ¼ rupee per diem, where about 8 scholars are instructed in the Persian language, and a trifling Maira of rupees 5-8-4 is received for one of the colleges in the talook of Cauvareepauk. These form the whole of the expense defrayed by government on this account.
6. Certain of the institutions from different branches of learning will be seen entered as free of charge, these are conducted by persons of some acquirements and who voluntarily give up a part of their time for this purpose, but the greater portion of the seminaries are instituted by those gaining their livelihood by this means, and rates of charge are very variable, being according to the nature of the studies, or the means of the parties.
7. The Tamil, Taloogoo and Hindwy schools are the most extensive; to these the scholars are sent generally about the age of 5 and in the course of five or six years are generally found sufficiently forward to commence by assisting in the preparation or copying of the accounts, according to their different walks in life, sometimes as volunteers in the public Cutcherries or in the situations with Curnums, Shroffs, Merchants or others, whence they graduate to situations in the public service or their hereditary occupations.
Collector’s Cutcherry William Cooke,
3rd March, 1823. Principal Collector.
(Statements on following pages)
COLLECTOR OF CHINGLEPUT TO
BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.946, Pro.7.4.1823 pp.3493-96 No.25)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Secretary’s letter of the 25th of July last, and to transmit a statement in the prescribed Form, respecting the places of tuition and number of scholars in the this district.
2. There are no colleges properly so called but there are a few places in which the higher branches of learning are taught to a small number of pupils which I have classed separately.
3. A village school master earns from 3½ to 12 rupees per month. I think the average is no more than 7 rupees. The scholars are subsisted in their own houses and only attend the school during a part of the day. For the most part their attendance is very irregular. Few of the school masters are acquainted with the grammar of the language which they profess to teach, and neither the master nor scholars understand the meaning of the sentences which they repeat.
4. I do not find that any allowance has been made by the Native Governments for education in this district, but in some villages there are trifling Mauneoms, from a quarter of a Cawny to two Cawnies of land, for Vaidavartyars or Theological teachers.
5. I have published in the district that there is no intention to interfere with the people in the mode of education, and that no change is contemplated except it be to aid existing institutions.
6. Education cannot well, in a civilized state, be on a lower scale than it is and I much fear there does not exist the same desire for improvement as is reported of the natives of Bengal.
Poodooputnum, S. Smalley,
3rd April 1823. Collector.
(Statement on next page)
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR OF SOUTH
ARCOT TO BOARD OF REVENUE:
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.954, Pro.7.7.1823, pp.5622-24 No.59-60)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Deputy Secretary’s letter under date the 25th of July 1822 with its enclosures, in conformity to which I herewith submit a statement of the number of native schools and colleges in this Collectorate drawn out according to the Form received from your Board.
2. The number of schools which this statement exhibits have each one teacher where reading and writing in the Malabar and Gentoo languages, are taught. The payment made for each scholar is from 1 fanam to 1 Pagoda per month according to the condition and circumstances of their parents. The scholars generally attend the school from 6 to 10 o’clock in the morning then from 12 to 2 and lastly from 3 to 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening.
3. There are no private or public schools for teaching Technology, Law, Astronomy, etc., in this Collectorate, and no allowance of any sort has ever been granted by the Native Governments to schools the masters of which are entirely supported by the parents of the scholars.
Cutcherry, Cuddalore, C. Hyde,
29th June, 1823. Principal Collector.
(Statement on following pages)
COLLECTOR, NELLORE TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.952, Pro.30.6.1823 pp.5188-91 No.26)
1. I would have replied to your letter of the 25th July last before now, had I not met with unavoidable difficulties in obtaining the required information about the native schools they referred to, in the Zemindary talooks.
2. I herewith forward the statement A prepared according to the Form conveyed in your letter above mentioned, showing the number of schools, scholars, etc., in the district under my charge.
3. The statement B which accompanied this letter shows the number of persons, who teach Vedums, Arabic, Persian, etc., on receiving allowances in money or land granted for the same by the Carnatic Government and continued by the Company, and it also shows the number of scholars as well as the amount of the said allowances.
4. It is to be observed that the schools mentioned in the statement A are not endowed by the public with any emoluments. They are partly established occasionally by individuals for the education of their own children and partly by the teachers themselves, for their own maintenance.
5. It is stated that the scholars in these schools continue therein from 3 to 6 years. The school master is paid from 2 annas to 4 rupees monthly for each scholar, and the expenses for the subsistence of a scholar is about 3 rupees monthly, and one rupee for his writing things, etc., and 2 rupees if it is the English language.
6. The natives, I understand, send their children to school when they are about 5 years of age and besides the allowance mentioned in the preceding paragraph each scholar gives him about one seer rice once every fortnight, at the new and full moons. They also pay him some presents when they are first put in the school, and after they finish the reading of any of their introductory books, such as Baularamayanum, Amarum, etc., and also pay a present to him when they complete their education, and leave the school.
7. The native schools in the district are not permanently held by the teachers; some people who are anxious to have their children educated soon employ learned men to undertake their children’s education separately in their own houses, settling with them their wages from 2 annas to 4 rupees monthly, and also give them victuals in their houses. Some who cannot sufficiently pay the teachers out of their own money procure some other children in addition to their own for being educated and get adequate allowance to them by way of subscription from these children, from one quarter, to one rupee each month. When they see their children improved they give leave to the teachers and consequently break up the schools.
I beg leave to subjoin a list of the description of the native schools mentioned in the statement A adverted to:
Genttoo Schools 642
Vedum Schools 83
Astronomy Schools 5
Laws Schools 15
Astrology Schools 3
English Schools 1
Persian and Arabic Schools 50
Tamil Schools 4
Hindoostany Music Schools 1
Total native schools 804
Nellore, T. Fraser, 23rd June 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following pages)
FROM COLLECTOR, MASULIPATAM TO
(TNSA: BRP: Pro.13.1.1823)
The President and Members of the Board of Revenue,
Fort St. George.
I have the honour to forward the statement of the number of native schools and colleges and of the number of scholars in each of the Collectorate under my charge in the Form which accompanied your Secretary’s letter of 25th July last.
2. In order to render the information more complete under the head of ‘schools and colleges’, the several languages and sciences are distinguished, and one additional column is introduced for Chatreya scholars next to that of the Bramins. The scholars who are instructed in the Gentoo* language usually enter the schools in their fifth year, and continue in them till about the twelfth, or seventeenth of their age. The school hours are from six to nine in the morning, and again from eleven to six in the evening.
3. They are first taught to read the letters, spelling, and the names both common and proper, writing on the sand with their fingers. When they are perfect in that, they are taught the reading of books (Balaramayanum, Amram, etc.), on cadjans (useful for the boys) in Sanscrit and Gentoo as well as letters of correspondence, books of mathematics, accounts, etc., etc., according to the pleasure of the relations of the boys.
4. As soon as the boys have learnt to write well on cadjans or on paper they are removed from the schools to some of the public or private offices of curnums, paishcar, or to be improved in keeping accounts, or to schools of foreign languages such as Persian, English, etc.
5. If the boys are of Vydeea Bramins, they are, so soon as they can read properly, removed direct from schools to colleges of Vadums and Sastrums.
6. The former is said to be the mother to all the sciences of Hindoos, and the latter is the common term for all those sciences, which are in Sanscrit, viz., Law, Astronomy, Theology, etc., etc. These sciences are taught by Bramins only, and more especially Bramins holding Agrahrums, Mauneoms, Rozunahs, or other emoluments, whose duty it is to observe their religious obligation on all occasions.
7. In most of the towns, villages and hamlets of this country, the Bramins are teaching their boys the Vadums and Sastrums, either in colleges or elsewhere in their respective houses.
8. No school or college appears to have been ever built separately for that purpose, or to have been endowed by the public. Two years ago Vencatanarsimmah Appahrow, the zemindar at Ellore, caused a charity school for Gentoo scholars to be opened in that town by a school master on a fixed monthly stipend of 3 M. pagodas. The scholars instructed therein are 33 in number, but they in general subsist upon charity.
9. With the exception of dancing girls it is very seldom that women of other castes are publicly educated in this part of the country.
10. The charges to a Gentoo scholar average 6 annas per month for papers, cadjans, books, etc., etc., besides food and raiment as well as the pay of their school master. Both of these charges of course depend upon the rank and circumstances of the relations of the scholars. The wages to the school master are commonly from ¼ to 2 rupees for each boy.
11. The colleges of Sanscrit, law and astronomy alluded to in the statement are opened by learned and charitable persons, some of whom have mauniums etc., and part are supported by charity or by presents from their own scholars but receive no fixed wages. Some few of the scholars have in like manner mauniums, etc., which they inherit from their forefathers, and a few are supported by some respectable teachers, or by charity subscriptions. The charges of each scholar are estimated upon an average at 60 rupees per year for their subsistence, books, etc.
12. By the statement now submitted it appears that 4,847 scholars are receiving education in 465 Gentoo schools, while only 199 are studying the Sastrums in 49 colleges.
13. The number of schools for teaching the Persian language are few in this part of the country. The Mussulman scholars (with the exception of the 41 who are learning the Gentoo language) are 236 in 19 schools, their continuance in the schools about 9 years (from 6 to 15 of their age), the monthly Pay to the school master is from a quarter to one rupee; and the charges for writing things are estimated at 4 annas each per month. Some of the learned Mussulmans are teaching a few of the scholars without receiving reward on account of friendship for their relations, and others for a charity; for instance Hussain Alli Fukeer son of Muhudeen Shaw at Ellore.
14. None of the institutions appear to have been regularly endowed, although probably encouragement and support was given to them by the more opulent and powerful natives of former days.
Masulipatam, J.F. Lane,
3 January 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following pages)
COLLECTOR OF VIZAGAPATAM TO
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.947 Pro.1.5.1823 pp.3847-50 Nos.6-7)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Secretary’s letter of the 25th July last requiring a Statement of Schools and Colleges in this District.
2. Having now acquired the desired information I beg leave to forward the statement which is drawn out according to the prescribed Form.
Cutcherry, J. Smith,
14th April 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following pages)
COLLECTOR, TRICHINOPOLY TO BOARD
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.959 Pro.28.8.1823 pp.7456-57 Nos.35-36)
1. Information having at length been obtained on the subject of your letter of the 25th July 1822, I do myself the honor to submit the result. The annexed statement drawn up in correspondence with that which accompanied your letter, will show the number of native schools and colleges in this district, and the number of scholars male as well as female Hindoos of all castes, and Mussulmans, who are educated in them.
2. The scholars generally continue in the schools from the age of 7 to 15 and the average yearly expense of education is about 7 pagodas. There are no schools or colleges in this district for the support of which my public funds are appropriated, and in institutions for teaching Astronomy—Theology or any other science.
3. In the talook of Jyalore alone, and no other, there are 7 schools, which were formerly endowed by some Native Government with between 44 and 47 Cawnies of land for the maintenance of the teachers.
Trichinopoly, G.W. Saunders,
23rd August, 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
COLLECTOR, BELLARY TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.958 Pro.25.8.1823 pp.7167-85 Nos.32-33)
1. The delay of my Amildars, in furnishing the requisite returns, has hitherto prevented my submitting to you the enclosed statement called for in your orders of the 25th July 1822, and 19th of June last.
2. The population of this District is specified in the enclosed statement at 9,27,857 or little less than a million of souls. The number of schools is only 533 containing no more than, 6,641 scholars, or about twelve to each school, and not seven individuals in a thousand, of the entire population.
3. The Hindoo scholars are in number 6,398, the Mussulman scholars only 243, and the whole of these are males, with the exception of only sixty girls, who are all Hindoos exclusively.
4. The English language is taught in one school only. The Tamil in four, the Persian in twenty-one, the Mahratta in twenty-three, the Teloogoo in two hundred and twenty-six, and the Carnataca in two hundred and thirty-five. Besides these, there are twenty-three places of instruction, attended by Bramins exclusively, in which some of the Hindoo sciences, such as Theology, Astronomy, Logic and Law, are still imperfectly taught in the Sanscrit Language.
5. In these places of Sanscrit instruction in the Hindoo sciences, attended by youths, and often by persons far advanced in life, education is conducted on a plan entirely different from that pursued in the schools, in which children are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic only, in the several vernacular dialects of the country. I shall endeavour to give a brief outline of the latter, as to them the general population of the country is confined, and as that population consists chiefly of Hindoos, I shall not dwell on the few Mussulman schools in which Persian is taught.
6. The education of the Hindoo youth generally commences when they are five years old. On reaching this age, the master and scholars of the school to which the boy is to be sent, are invited to the house of his parents. The whole are seated in a circle round an image of Gunasee, and the child to be initiated is placed exactly opposite to it. The school master, sitting by his side, after having burnt incense and presented offerings, causes the child to repeat a prayer to Gunasee entreating wisdom. He then guides the child to write with its finger in rice the mystic name of the deity, and is dismissed with a present from the parents, according to their ability. The child, next morning commences the great work of his education.
7. Some children continue at school only five years, the parents, through poverty, or other circumstances, being often obliged to take them away, and consequently, in such cases, the merest smattering of an education is obtained; and when parents take a lively interest in the culture of their children’s minds, they not infrequently continue at school as long as fourteen and fifteen years.
8. The internal routine of duty for each day will be found, with very few exceptions, and little variation, the same in schools. The hour generally for opening school is six o’clock. The first child who enters has the name of Saraswatee, or the Goddess of learning, written upon the palm of his hand, as a sign of honor, and, on the hand of the second, a cypher is written, to show that he is worthy, neither of praise nor censure, the third scholar receives a gentle stripe; the fourth two, and every succeeding scholar that comes an additional one. This custom as well as the punishments in native schools, seem of a severe kind. The idle scholar is flogged, and often suspended by both hands, and a pulley, to the roof, or obliged to kneel down and rise incessantly, which is most painful and fatiguing but perhaps a healthy mode of punishment.
9. When the whole are assembled, the scholars according to their number and attainments, are divided into several classes. The lower ones of which are placed partly under the care of monitors, whilst the higher ones are more immediately under the superintendence of the master, who at the same time has his eye upon the whole school. The number of classes is generally four; and a scholar rises from one to the other, according to his capacity and progress. The first business of a child on entering school is to obtain a knowledge of the letters, which he learns by writing them with his finger on the ground in sand, and not by pronouncing the alphabet as among European nations. When he becomes pretty dexterous in writing with his finger in sand, he has then the privilege of writing either with an iron style on cadjan leaves, or with a reed on paper, and sometimes on the leaves of the aristolochia identica, or with a kind of pencil on the Hulligi or Kadata, which answer the purpose of slates. The two latter in these districts are the most common. One of these is a common oblong board about a foot in width and three feet in length. This board, when plained smooth, has only to be smeared with a little rice and pulverized charcoal and it is then fit for use. The other is made of cloth, first stiffened with rice water, doubled in folds, resembling a book, and is then covered with a composition of charcoal and several gums. The writing on either these may be effaced by a wet cloth. The pencil used is called Buttapa, a kind of white clay substance, somewhat resembling a crayon, with the exception of being rather harder.
10. Having attained a thorough knowledge of the letters, the scholar next learns to write the compounds, or the manner of embodying the symbols of the vowels in the consonants and the formation of syllables, etc., then the names of men, villages, animals, etc., and finally arithmetical signs. He then commits to memory an addition table, and counts from one to a hundred; he afterwards writes easy sums in addition, and subtraction of money; multiplication and the reduction of money, measures, etc. Here great pains are taken with the scholars, in teaching him the fractions of an integer, which descend, not be tens as in our decimal fractions, but by fours, and are carried to a great extent. In order that these fractions, together with the arithmetical table, in addition, multiplication, and those on the threefold measures of capacity, weight, and extent, may be rendered quite familiar to the minds of the scholars, they are made to stand up twice a day, in rows, and repeat the whole after one of the monitors.
11. The other parts of a native education consist in deciphering various kinds of hand writing, in public and other letters, which the school master collects from the different sources; writing common letters, drawing up forms of agreement; reading; fables and legendary tales; and committing various kinds of poetry to memory, chiefly with a view to attain distinctness and clearness in pronunciation, together with readiness and correctness in reading any kind of composition.
12. The three books which are most common in all the schools, and which are used indiscriminately by the several castes, are the Ramayanum, Maha Bharata, and Bhagvata; but the children of the manufacturing class of people have in addition to the above, books peculiar to their own religious tenets; such as the Nagalingayna Kutha, Vishvakurma Poorana, Kumalesherra Kalikamahata; and those who wear the Lingum such as the Busvapoorana, Raghavankunkauya Geeroja Kullana, Unabhavamoorta, Chenna Busavaswara Poorana, Gurilagooloo, etc., which are all considered sacred, and are studied with a view of subserving their several religious creeds.
13. The lighter kind of stories which are read for amusement, are generally the Punchatantra, Bhatalapunchavansatee, Punklee Soopooktahuller, Mahantarungenee. The books on the principles of the vernacular languages themselves, are the several dictionaries and grammars, such as the Nighantoo, Umara, Subdamumbured, Shubdeemunee Durpana, Vyacurna Andradeepeca, Andhranamasungraha, etc., etc., but these last, and similar books, which are most essential, and, without which, no accurate or extensive knowledge of the vernacular languages can be attained, are, from the high price of manuscripts and the general poverty of the masters, of all books, the most uncommon in the Native Schools; and such of them which are found there are in consequence of the ignorance, carelessness, and indolence of copyists in general, full of blunders, and in every way most incorrect and imperfect.
14. The whole of the books, however, in the Teloogoo and Carnataca schools, which are by far the most numerous in this district, whether they treat of religion, amusement, or the principles of these languages, are in verse; and in a dialect quite distinct from that of conversation and business. The alphabets of the two dialects are the same, and he who reads the one, can read, but not understand, the other also. The natives, therefore, read these (unintelligible) books to them, to acquire the power of reading letters, in the common dialect of business; but the poetical is quite distinct from the prose dialect, which they speak and write; and though they read these books, it is to the pronunciation of the syllables, not to the meaning or construction of the words, that they attend. Indeed few teachers can explain, and still fewer scholars understand, the purport of the numerous books which they thus learn to repeat from memory. Every school boy can repeat verbatim a vast number of verses, of
the meaning of which, he knows no more than the parrot that has been taught to utter certain words. Accordingly, from studies, in which he has spent many a day of laborious, but fruitless toil, the native scholar gains no improvement, except the exercise of memory and the power to read and write on the common business of life; he makes no addition to his stock of useful knowledge, and acquires no moral impressions. He has spent his youth in reading syllables, not words, and, on entering into life, he meets with hundreds and thousands of books of the meaning of which he can form not even the most distant conjecture, and as to the declension of a noun, or the conjugation of a verb, he knows no more than of the most abstruse problem in Euclid. It is not to be wondered at, with such an imperfect education, that in writing a common letter to their friends, orthographical errors and other violations of grammar, may be met with in almost every line written by a native.
15. The government could not promote the improved education of their native subjects in these districts more, than by patronizing versions, in the common prose and spoken dialect, of the most moral parts of their popular poets and elementary works, now committed to memory in unintelligible verse. He who could read would then understand what he reads, which is far from the case at present. I am acquainted with many persons very capable of executing such a task; and, in the Teloogoo language, would gladly superintend it, as far as is in my power, at this distance from the Presidency.
16. The economy with which children are taught to write in the native schools, and the system by which the more advanced scholars are caused to teach the less advanced and at the same time to confirm their own knowledge is certainly admirable, and well deserved the imitation it has received in England. The chief defects in the native schools are the nature of the books and learning taught and the want of competent masters.
17. Imperfect, however, as the present education of the natives is, there are a few who possess the means to command it for their children even were books of a proper kind plentiful and the master every way adequate to the task imposed upon him, he would make no advance from one class to another, except as he might be paid for his labour. While learning the first rudiments, it is common for the scholar to pay to the teacher a quarter of a rupee, and when arrived as far as to write on paper, or at the higher branches of arithmetic, half a rupee per mensem. But in proceeding further such as explaining books, which are all written in verse, giving the meaning of Sanscrit words, and illustrating the principles of the vernacular languages, such demands are made as exceed the means of most parents. There is, therefore, no alternative, but that of leaving their children only partially instructed, and consequently ignorant of the most essential and useful parts of a liberal education. But there are multitudes who cannot even avail themselves of the advantages of this system, defective as it is.
18. I am sorry to state that this is ascribable to the gradual but general impoverishment of the country. The means of the manufacturing classes have been, of late years greatly diminished, by the introduction of our own European manufactures, in lieu of the Indian cotton fabrics. The removal of many of our troops, from our own territories, to the distant frontiers of our newly subsidized allies, has also, of late years, affected the demand for grain, the transfer of the capital of the country, from the Native Governments, and their Officers, who liberally expended it in India, to Europeans, restricted by law from employing it even temporarily in India, and daily draining it from the land, has likewise tended to this effect which has not been alleviated by a less rigid enforcement of the revenue due to the state. The greater part of the middling and lower classes of the people are now unable to defray the expenses incident upon the education of their offspring, while their necessities require the assistance of their children as soon as their tender limbs are capable of the smallest labour.
19. It cannot have escaped the Government that of nearly a million of souls in this district, not 7,000 are now at school; a proportion which exhibits but too strongly the result above stated. In many villages, where formerly there were schools, there are now none; and in many others, where there were large schools, now only a few of the children of the most opulent are taught, others being unable, from poverty, to attend or to pay what is demanded.
20. Such is the state, in this district, of the various schools, in which reading writing, and arithmetic, are taught in the vernacular dialects of the country, as has been always usual in India, by teachers who are paid by their scholars. The higher branches of learning on the contrary, have always, in this country, been taught in Sanscrit; and it has ever in India, been deemed below the dignity of science, for her professors to barter it for hire. Lessons in Theology, Astronomy, Logic and Law, continue to be given gratuitously as of old, by a few learned Bramins, to some of their disciples. But learning, though, it may proudly decline to sell its stores, has never flourished in any country, except under the encouragement of the ruling power and the countenance and support, once given to science in this part of India, have long been withheld.
21. Of the 533 institutions for education, now existing in this district, I am ashamed to say not one now derives any support from the state. I have therefore received, with peculiar satisfaction, the inquiries instituted by the Honorable the Governor-in-Council, on this interesting subject; and trust that this part of India may benefit from the liberality which dictated the record of his intention, to grant new funds where the same may be deemed expedient, and to restore to their original purpose, all funds diverted from this source.
22. There is no doubt that in former times, especially under the Hindoo Governments very large grants, both in money, and in land, were issued for the support of learning. Considerable Yeomiahs, or grants of money, now paid to Bramins from my treasury, and many of the numerous and valuable Shotrium villages, now in the enjoyment of Bramins in this district, who receive one-fourth, one-third, one-half, two-thirds, and sometimes the whole, of their annual revenue, may, I think, be traced to this source. Though it did not consist with the dignity of learning to receive from her votaries hire; it has always in India been deemed the duty of Government to evince to her the highest respect, and to grant to her those emoluments which she could not, consistently with her character receive from other sources; the grants issued by former governments, on such occasions, contained, therefore, no unbecoming stipulations on conditions. They all purport to flow from the free bounty of the ruling power, merely to aid the maintenance of some holy or learned man, or to secure his prayers for the state. But they were almost universally granted to learned or religious persons, who maintained a school for one or more of the sciences, and taught therein gratuitously; and though not expressed in the deed itself, the duty of continuing such gratuitous instruction was certainly implied in all such grants.
23. The British Government, with its distinguished liberality, has continued all grants of this kind and even in many cases where it was evident that they were merely of a personal nature. But they have not, until now, intimated any intention to enforce the implied, but now dormant, condition of these grants. The revenue of the original grantee has descended, without much inquiry, to his heirs. But his talents and acquirements have not been equally hereditary, and the descendants of the original grantees will rarely be found to possess either their learning, or powers of instruction. Accordingly, considerable alienations of revenue, which formerly did honor to the state, by upholding and encouraging learning, have deteriorated, under our rule, into the means of supporting ignorance; whilst science deserted by the powerful aid she formerly received from government, has often been reduced to beg her scanty and uncertain meal from the chance benevolence of charitable individuals; and it would be difficult to point out any period in the history of India, when she stood more indeed of the proffered aid of government, to raise her from the degraded state into which she has fallen, and dispel the prevailing ignorance which so unhappily pervades the land.
24. At a former period, I recollect, that the government, on the recommendation of the College Board, authorised the late Mr Ross, then Collector in the neighbouring district of Cuddapah, to establish experimental schools with the view of improving the education of the natives; but the lamented death of that zealous and able public officer led to the abandonment of a plan, to which his talents and popularity in the country were peculiarly calculated to give success. As Secretary to the college, and to your Board, I was, at that time, a warm advocate for such experiment; and, if now allowed, I should gladly attempt to superintend some arrangement of that kind, in my present provincial situation.
25. I would propose the appointment of an able Shastry from amongst the Law students at the college, with an addition to his existing pay of only 10 pagodas per mensem, to be placed under me at the principal station of the district, to instruct gratuitously all who chose to attend him, in the Hindoo sciences in the Sanscrit language, and the native school masters, in the grammar of the Teloogoo and Carnataca tongues, being those vernacular here; such a man I have no doubt that I could soon obtain from the college; for, if one with all the requisite qualifications is not at present attached to the institution, there are many that I know there who can speedily qualify themselves for it in a very short time.
26. Subordinate to this man and liable to his periodical visitations, I would recommend that seventeen school masters, for Teloogoo and Carnataca, be entertained, at from 7 to 14 rupees each per mensem to be stationed at the seventeen Cusba stations under each of my Amildars, and liable to their supervision, to teach gratuitously these languages. Their lowest pay might be fixed at 7 rupees, and might be raised, by fixed gradations, with the increasing number of their scholars, as high as the maximum above stated. All of these might be selected from the best informed of the present school masters here; but, with reference to the low state of knowledge amongst the present persons of that class, most of them will previously require instruction from the Head Shastry, in grammar, etc. Though forbidden to demand money all such masters should be allowed to receive any presents their scholars may offer to them; particularly those usual, on entering or quitting school.
27. The highest expense of such an institution would be 273 rupees, the lowest 154 rupees per mensem. The first expense must necessarily be borne by government, who alone are able to originate, and, at first support, such a plan. But proper steps may be taken to engage in it the aid of the more opulent classes of the community, and if practicable to induce them, in due time, willingly to contribute to the support of such schools. Indeed, I have little doubt that the plan would soon carry with it the united consent, and grateful approbation, of the more respectable and well informed of the inhabitants at large.
28. It would also greatly accelerate the progress and efficiency of such schools, if Government were to appropriate a moderate annual sum, to the purpose of preparing and printing, at the college press, or elsewhere, suitable books for the use of these schools, in the prose, or common, dialects, of the Teloogoo and Carnataca languages; on the principle stated by me in a former part of this letter. These should consist of selections from the most approved native school books, fables, proverbs, etc., now in use in the schools or well known in the country to the exclusion, in the first instance, of all new publications whatever. Books of a popular and known character, intelligible to all who read, would thus be procurable at a cheaper rate, and in more correct state, than at present, and the teachers might be employed to dispose of them at low prices.
29. If public examinations once a year were instituted before the Head Shastry, and small premiums of badges of distinction were distributed, for the purpose of rewarding, on such occasions, those who are most advanced, a suitable effect might be produced, and a powerful stimulus afforded to the students.
30. To cover the first expense of these schools, and to provide further for their gradual extension, if found, advisable, without entailing any additional or new expense on government, it might be provided, that, on the demise of any persons now holding Yeomiahs or alienated lands, a new inquiry be instituted; and that, though the same may have been continued for more than one generation by the British Government, it be resumed, and carried to a new fund, to be termed the school ‘fund’ (to which the proposed expense should also be debited), unless it is clearly stated that the body of the original grant to be ‘hereditary’, on the intention of the ruling power at the time to make such grant hereditary, be clearly proved to the satisfaction of government.
31. If an arrangement of this kind is sanctioned, I have little doubt that, in a few years, the receipts from such a fund would more than counterbalance the disbursement. But even if they did not, the charge would be comparatively trifling. The enactments of the British Parliament contemplate such a charge. The known liberality of the authorities in England on this subject ensure to it sanction: the supreme government have set the example; and, the Provincial functionaries in the Madras territories ought perhaps to take blame to themselves; that they have waited to be called upon, before they stood forth as the organ of public opinion, in a matter of such importance and universal interest; I sincerely hope that it will not, as before, be allowed to sink into oblivion; but that the information submitted by the several Collectors, will enable your Board and the government, to mature, from their suggestions, some practical, or at least some experimental plan for the improvement of education, and the support of learning in Southern India.
Bellary, A.D. Campbell,
17th August 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
COLLECTOR, RAJAMUNDRY TO BOARD
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.963, Pro.2.10.1823, pp.8520-25 Nos.29-30)
1. I have the honor to submit the information called for in your Deputy Secretary’s letter dated 25th July 1822, together with a statement in the prescribed form of the number of native schools in this Collectorate and of the number of scholars.
2. I also take the liberty to forward another statement which being in more detail and containing some additional heads of information may probably be found of some use.
3. If these statements are at all to be depended upon, and (they are founded on very minute returns of my public servants) the actual state of education in this district must be pronounced anything but satisfactory inasmuch as it would appear that out of 1,200 villages composing the zillah of Rajamundry and total population of 7,38,308 souls there are 207 villages only in which reading and writing are taught, the number of schools in the villages in question being 291 and the number of scholars, Hindoos and Mussulman 2,658. The time that scholars usually continue at school varies from 5 to 7 years. The fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the boy’s age is the ‘lucky day’ for his first entrance into school. The monthly charge to the scholars is as high as one rupee each in some places and as low as two annas in others, but the average rate may be stated at 7 annas. I have not found that any of the schools are endowed by the public.
4. The number of colleges, or rather teachers* of Theology, Law, Astronomy, etc., is 279, the number of scholars 1,454. The particulars are as follows (see next page).
The teachers of the Vedum here alluded to are not generally men of much science. The scholar is barely taught so much of the Vedum as will enable him to perform the usual
*Ts: Teachers; Ss: Scholarsceremonies of his religion, nor is it thought at all essential that he should understand what little he does read. Hence it happens that this class of people are often very deficient in their education.
5. Of the total number of 279 teachers mentioned above 69 possess allowances in land and 13 in money both the one and the other being granted by former Zemindars. 196 individuals teach their scholars without fee or reward and 1 person is supported by his scholars.
6. In those villages under my immediate management where there are no schools, I have found the inhabitants very willing to have such established among them, but some assistance from government will be necessary to set things agoing, say monthly allowance of 2 rupees to each teacher, the scholars to make up the remainder. I shall be prepared to address your Board more fully upon the subject should this proposal meet your approval.
Zillah Rajamundry, F.W. Robertson,
Mugaluteer, 19th Sept. 1823. Collector.
(Statements on following pages)
Names of the Books in use at the Schools and Colleges at Rajamundry
1. Baula Ramauyanum Vadahs, etc.
Culleyanum 1. Roogvadum
3. Paurejantahpatraranum 2. Yajoorvadum
Ramauyanum 3. Samavadum
5. Raumayanum 4. Sroudum
Satacum 5. Dravedavedum or
7. Kreestna Satacum . Nunlauyanum
8. Soomaty Satacum
9. Janakey Satacum Sastrums
10. Prasunnaragara Satacum 1. Sanscrit Grammar
11. Ramataraka Satacum Siddhanda Cowmoody 12. Bahscara Satacum 2. Turkum
13. Beesanavecausa Satacum 3. Jeyoteshem
14. Beemalingaswara Satacum 4. Durmasastrum
15. Sooreyanaraina Satacum
16. Narraina Satacum Cauveyems
17. Plaholanda Charetra 1. Ragoovamsam
18. Vasoo Charetra 2. Coomarasumbhavem
Charetra 3. Moghasundasem
20. Sumunga Charetra 4. Bhauravy
21. Nala Charetra 5. Maukhum
22. Vamana Charetra 6. Naveshadum
23. Ganintum 7. Andasastrum
24. Pauvooloory Ganintum
25. Bhauratam English
Books in its Schools
Velausum Persian Schools
28. Kroostnaleelan Velausum 1. Caremah
30. Suptama Skundum 2. Harckarum in Persian
Skundum 3. Insah Culipha and
32. Rathamathava Sumvadum Goolstan
Paranayem 4. Bahurdanish and Bostan
34. Veerabhadra Vejayem 5. Abdul Phazaul Inshah
Paronayem 6. Calipha
36. Amarum 7. Khoran
43. Resekajana Manobharanum
Zillah Rajahmundry, F.W. Robertson,
Mongultoor, 19th September, 1823. Collector.
PRINCIPAL COLLECTOR, MALABAR TO
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.957, Pro.14.8.1823, pp.6949-55 Nos.52 & 53)
(A) 1. I have the honor to submit a statement showing the number of schools and colleges in this Collectorate, to which I have annexed an Account of the individuals who study Theology, Astronomy, etc., under private tutors.
(B) 2. With respect to the only college entered in the statement now sent, I beg to transmit Translation of a Memorandum received from the Zamorin Rajah, which contains the best information I could collect respecting it.
3. The school masters receive monthly from each scholar from one quarter to four rupees, according to their respective means, independent of some remuneration when a scholar leaves the school. The private teacher who gives lessons in Theology, Law, etc., does not receive any monthly or annual allowance but a present or compensation when the pupils leave him according to the circumstances and means of each.
Principal Collector’s Office, J. Vaughan,
Calicut, 5th August, 1823. Principal Collector.
(Statement and translation on following pages)
Translation of memorandum received from the Zamorin Rajah:
B. In the beginning the Bramins of Malabar used to be instructed in Religion at the Chetroms (or Temples) nearest to their houses by the teachers of that time, but it was apprehended that learning after that manner would not be attended with advantage. A consultation was therefore held by the Bramins, when it was determined that a College should be instituted for the purposes of instructing all persons in the principles of Religion. A spot of ground (adjacent to the river) to the southward of Teroonavya Chetrom in Terooina: nisherynad Hobby, Cootnad Talook, was fixed upon for the proposed building and all of them waited on and reported the circumstance to our ancestor the then reigning Rajah who caused a College to be built at his expense on the spot pointed out by them, and ordered that all persons residing in it should be furnished with their daily meal and oil, and further, ordered a store house to be built and the appointment of a person to be incharge of the same—the Bramins accordingly, (agreeable to the respective means of each) allotted for this purpose a certain portion of rice lands, and Achipora Erkara Namboory was by general consent, chosen Instructor in the college for whose subsistence some further rice lands were given by the Bramins and from that time the members of that family continue holding the above employment. This is what I have heard my ancestors and the Bramins say. There is no document containing an account of the foregoing transaction. The number of persons to be admitted in the college is not limited; everybody desirous of availing himself of it will be admitted and provided for. Formerly, the number of persons who resorted to the college for instruction amounted from 100 to 120 daily. In the year 949 when a foreigner invaded the country, he caused several temples and dwellings to be destroyed and the above college was demolished on that occasion and the rice lands allotted for the support of it, assessed by his order in consequence of which the Bramins found it impossible to live in this country and therefore all of them repaired to Rama Rajah’s country (Travancore) and consequently the learning of the Vethom was altogether discontinued in Malabar. It being a very great sin for the Bramins to be ignorant of their religious tenets, they and the Namboory who was appointed their Instructor went and represented to Rama Rajah this circumstance when that Rajah ordered a college to be established in his country adjoining to the Teroona Kare Chetrom, and allotted the necessary allowance for the subsistence of the learners, who there continued being instructed without any interruption till the year 966. When the invader was expulsed from Malabar by the Honorable Company who extended their protection throughout the country the emigrant Bramins thereupon returned to this country and resumed their former habitations but the destruction of their college and the decayed state of the landed property allotted for its support precluded them from deriving the benefit of that institution in the manner they formerly did, which was a source of much grievance to them. Accordingly, they represented the circumstance to the Rajah, my uncle. Although according to the then existing state of affairs no great assistance could be given yet he resolved to do to the utmost in his power considering that it was an institution established by his ancestors and that the existence of it would tend to render the Rajah and his subjects prosperous. Accordingly he ordered their college to be rebuilt and furnished it as well with every (thing) necessary as the means of maintaining the Instructor and his pupils, which has been continued by me. The produce of the lands appertaining to the college, after deducting the revenue payable to the Sirkar is hardly sufficient for one month’s expense. Consequently, whatever is wanted is supplied by me; about 2,000 rupees for the support of the pupils and 200 rupees for that of the Instructor are paid by me every year. This is what obtains at present. With the exception of Religion no other science is taught in the college. There was in ancient times at Choanoor in Talpallynad a college with lands assigned for its support in which several Bramins were instructed in the Shastram, and when they left the college after acquiring a competent proficiency they were admitted in the Tallel Chetrom at Calicut on an annual allowance of 101 fanams each. The number of individuals thus admitted consisted from 70 to 80. On the introduction of revenue the lands which afforded the above allowance ceased to yield it and the means of the estate became much reduced, in consequence of which the above allowance as well as the instruction was discontinued. On which the Bramins came and represented their grievance whereupon a teacher was entertained here who has always had some pupils under him. The Tallil allowance also is continued but on a reduced scale.
Dated 10th Karkaddayom 998 M.S.
No signature in the original
COLLECTOR, SALEM TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.No.954, Pro.14th Jul. 1823, No.50, pp.5908-10)
1. I have the honor to submit the accompanying statement as called for by your Board in their instructions of the 25th July 1822.
2. From the statement it appears that only 4,650, persons receive education out of a population of above ten lacs—which is only a fraction more than four and a quarter per Mille—and proves the bad and contracted state of public instructions.
3. The period which scholars usually continue at school is from three to five years according to the ability of their friends to maintain them there and their own aptitude to learn—the yearly charge to the scholars is never less than three rupees a year—in the Hindoo schools—and in the Mussulman schools the charge amounts to fifteen and twenty rupees. None of the Hindoo schools are endowed by the public—and only one Mussulman school has land yielding rupees 20 per annum allowed for it’s support—a former master of this school possessed a Yeomiah paid monthly by the Collector amounting to fifty-six rupees a year—on his death this allowance was discontinued by my Predecessor as it was held only on a life tenure.
4. In the talooks of Abtoor, Namkul, Salem and Parmutty there are twenty teachers of Theology, Law and Astronomy—to the support of whom are attached Enam lands calculated to yield rupees 1,109 per annum. These lands are almost entirely under cultivation—and the possessors perform the duties for which they were originally granted.
5. Besides the above Enam lands there are other lands yielding rupees 384, per annum, in the talooks of Raizepoor and Sankerry-Droog—which were sequestered by Tippoo the year previous to the secession of the country and which have since been included in the Revenue of Government.
6. Considering education as the best means of preventing crimes in the people whether servants of government or otherwise (and which opinion, is strongly expressed in the 7th Para of your Board’s Report to government under date the 11th December 1815), and viewing the defective state of education in this district as the fruitful source of much crime, I shall with the sanction of your Board, be prepared to offer such suggestions and to propose the establishment of such funds—as will tend to promote education in some degree more adequate to the demand for it.
Cutcherry of the Collector of Salem, M.D. Cockburn,
8th July, 1823. Collector.
(Statement on next page)
COLLECTOR, GUNTUR TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.954, Pro.14.7.1823, No.49, pp.5904-7)
1. In reply to your Deputy Secretary Mr Viveash’s letter of the 25th July last, I have the honor to transmit a statement showing the number of schools in which reading and writing are taught together with the number of scholars in them, and which has been prepared according to the form accompanying the above letter.
2. With regard to the information called for by the government in their letter of the 2nd July, 1822, I have to observe that the scholars generally assemble in the morning at 6 o’clock and stay until nine and then go to their houses to take their morning meal and return again to school within 11 o’clock and continue until 2 or 3 o’clock in the evening, and again to their respective houses to eat their rice and return by 4 o’clock and continue until 7 o’clock in the evening. The morning and evening generally are the times for reading and afternoon for writing.
3. The charge to the scholars chiefly depends on the circumstances of the fathers or persons who put them to school and is found to vary from 2 annas to 2 rupees per mensem for each boy and this is the only charge that can be shown, as the boys are only sent to the schools in their own villages and live at home.
4. It appears that there are no schools in the zillah which are endowed by the public and no colleges for teaching Theology, Law, Astronomy, etc., in this district; these sciences are privately taught to some scholars or disciples generally by the Bramins learned in them, without payment of any fee or reward, and that the Bramins who teach are generally maintained by means of Mauneom land which have been granted to their ancestors by the ancient Zemindars of this zillah, and by the former governments on different accounts, but there appears no instance in which the Native Governments have granted allowances in money and land merely for the maintenance of the teachers for giving instruction in the above sciences. By the information which has been got together on this subject, it appears that there are 171 places where Theology, Law and Astronomy, etc., are taught privately, and the number of disciples in them is 939. The readers of these sciences cannot generally get teachers in their respective villages and are therefore obliged to go to others. In which cases if the reader belongs to a family that can afford to support him he gets what is required for his expenses from his home and which is estimated at 3 rupees per month, but which is only sufficient to supply him with his victuals; and if on the other hand his family is in too indigent circumstances to make such allowance, the student procures his daily subsistence from the houses in the village, where taught, which willingly furnish such by turns.
5. Should people be desirous of studying deeper in Theology, etc., than is taught in these parts, they travel to Benares, Navadweepum, etc., where they remain for years to take instructions under the learned Pundits of those places.
Guntoor Zillah, J.C. Whish,
Bauputtah, 9th July, 1823. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
COLLECTOR OF GANJUM TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.967 Pro.6.11.1823 pp.9332-34 Nos.5-6)
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Deputy Secretary Viveash’s letter and enclosure of the 25th July 1822 and to forward for your Board’s information a statement partially showing the number of schools, etc., in this district made out agreeable to the form sent by your Board.
2. There are no schools or colleges in this district endowed by the Circar or by any public authority but the teachers are monthly paid by the scholars from 4 annas to 1 rupee for each man.
3. The schools are usually opened from 6 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock in the evening.
4. The Bramins of Agraharums, etc., are in general educated in Sastrums, etc., by their Fathers or Brothers or by any other relations but no schools in this district are publicly opened for such occasion.
5. In making out the enclosed statement I have not been able to procure any satisfactory accounts from most of the Hill Zemindaries. Nothing but vodiahs is taught in these places, a language, merely confined to the mountains and borders.
Chicacole, P.R. Cazalet,
27th October 1823. Collector
(Statement on following pages)
SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT, BOARD OF REVENUE: 27.1.1825
(TNSA: BRP Vol.1010, Pro.27.1.1825 Nos.7-8 pp.674-675)
1. The government being anxious to receive the information relative to the state of education throughout the country, which was called for by Mr Hill’s letter of the 2nd July 1822, I am directed by the Honourable the Governor-in-Council to desire, that the result of the reference made to the several Collectors, under those instructions, may be reported with as little delay as possible.
2. Should any of the Collectors have omitted to furnish the required report, you will direct early attention to the subject, submitting, in the mean time, information which may be already before you.
Fort St. George, J. Stokes,
21st January 1825 Secretary to Government.
SECRETARY, BOARD OF REVENUE,
FORT ST. GEORGE, TO COLLECTOR OF CUDDAPAH:
(TNSA: BRP, Vol.1010 Pro.31.1.1825 No.42, p.841)
1. I am directed by the Board of Revenue to call your immediate attention to my predecessor’s letter of the 25th July 1822 requiring a report on the state of education in your district and I am desired to request that you will submit the statement and information required on this subject with the least possible delay.
2. Adverting to the elaborate inquiries made by a former Collector in your district regarding all the points necessary to be reported on, the Board conceive that there will be no difficulty in complying with their orders at an early period.
3. You will be pleased to prepare the statement required strictly according to the Form transmitted with the letter above referred to.
Fort St.George, J. Dent,
31st January, 1825 Secretary.
COLLECTOR, CUDDAPAH TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol 1011, Pro.17.2.1825 No.33 pp.1272-6-78)
1. I have the honor to reply to your Secretary’s letter of the 31st January calling for the report on the state of education throughout this district and to return the statement filled up according to the required form.
2. There are no public institutions either schools or colleges in this zillah supported by grants of land or any allowances from the government and I do not hear of any establishment having existed of this description.
3. Instruction of every kind is carried on either privately by the pupil residing in the house of his preceptor, or in the schools which are supported in every village by the contribution of those who have children to be instructed. In the latter case the pupils are for the most part in the habit of attending this school at day break, after remaining until about 10 o’clock they return home, and attend school again from ½ past eleven until sunset—the expense varies according to the progress made by the scholar and becomes higher at each stage from reading to writing and arithmetic—the allowance is of course smallest at first and is augmented as the pupil acquires information; the average for the lowest class is about ¼ rupee per month for each scholar and increases as high as 1 and 1½ but rarely exceeds it. I do not find that there are any schools even of this description of the instruction of the sciences. Theology, Law, Astronomy are taught it appears in a private manner for the most part in small families, and given as an inheritance from father to son. The instruction can only be attained by the party applying, either from the strongest interest or from relationship to those Bramins who are qualified to afford it. Pupils under such circumstances appear to reside entirely under the roof of their preceptors and to form part of the family.
4. In Cuddapah there are several schools supported by voluntary contribution, though it can be hardly called a public one as it is confined entirely to the European Gentlemen of the place.5. Instruction generally commences amongst Bramins when the child had attained the age of 5 or 6 and amongst the Sudras from 6 to 8. This difference is accounted for by a Bramin with reference to the superior intellect of his cast over the Sudra and therefore his children attain the requisite age for receiving instructions much earlier than those of the inferior castes. As instruction amongst the natives here, is encouraged and promoted solely in proportion to the personal profit obtainable by it, the course of education is considered complete when the scholar becomes a proficient in writing and arithmetic. He is then taken from school, all other accomplishments are learned at home, and he arrives at experience, and attains improvement in what he has already acquired, only by attending his father’s shop and writing his accounts, or by being permitted to qualify himself for employment by volunteering his services in our public Cutcherries. The period during which each scholar receives instruction at school (and after the expiration of which he is usually considered to have completed his education) is about 2 years.
6. In nearly all the villages of this district there is an Enam set apart, as is doubtless well known to the Board for the support of a Punchangum Bramin, and it might be conjectured that amongst so many there would be found some who had attained considerable perfection in Astronomy and Theology, of this however there is hardly an instance. The persons holding such Enam are quite content to be ignorant of the higher branches of science, their utmost ambition being confined to the distinction of foretelling a fortunate hour for reaping or a lucky day for a marriage, and of contriving a horoscope for persons of distinction in the village.
7. Although there are no schools or colleges supported by public contribution, I ought not to omit that amongst Bramins, instruction, is in many places gratuitously afforded—and the poorer class obtain all their education in this way—at the age of from 10 to 16 years. If he has not the means of obtaining instruction otherwise a young Bramin leaves his home, and proceeds to the residence of a man of his own caste who is willing to afford instruction without recompense to all those resorting to him for the purpose. They do not however derive subsistence from him for as he is generally poor himself, his means could not of course give support to others, and even if he had the means his giving food and clothing to his pupils would attract so many as to defeat the object itself which is professed.
8. The Board would naturally enquire, how these children who are so destitute as not to be able to procure instruction in their own villages, could subsist in those to which they are strangers, and to which they travel from 10 to 100 miles, with no intention of returning for several years. They are supported entirely by charity, daily repeated, not received from the instructor for the reasons above mentioned, but from the inhabitants of the villages generally. They receive some portion of alms daily (for years) at the door of every Bramin in the village, and this is conceded to them with a cheerfulness which considering the object in view must be esteemed as a most honorable trait in the native character, and its unobtrusiveness ought to enhance the value of it. We are undoubtedly indebted to this benevolent custom for the general spread of education amongst a class of persons whose poverty would otherwise be an insurmountable obstacle to advancement in knowledge and it will be easily inferred that it requires only the liberal and fostering care of government to bring it to perfection.
9. As the only schools in the district supported by charity are those which owe their maintenance to the gentlemen at Cuddapah, I have entered them in the list under the name of ‘subscription schools’.
10. I am not aware that there is any further matter relating to this subject which is necessary to be submitted to the Board, but I beg to assure them that any deficiency which may be remarked shall be supplied with all the diligence in my power.
11. I cannot conclude this letter without expressing to your Board the obligation I am under to Mr Wheatly for the informant now submitted, his long residence in the district having afforded to him the best opportunity of ascertaining correctly the actual state of education throughout.
Cutcherry of the Collector of
Cuddapah, Roychooty, G.M. Ogilvie,
11th February, 1825. Sub-Collector in charge.
(Statement on following pages)
COLLECTOR, MADRAS TO BOARD OF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol 1011, Pro.14.2.1825 No.46 pp.1193-94)
With reference to my letter of the 13th November 1822 I have the honor to forward another statement of schools, which I consider to be more correct, and to submit that it may be substituted for the one transmitted with the letter to which I have before referred.
Madras Cutcherry, L.G.K. Murray,
12th February 1825. Collector.
(Statement on following page)
BOARD OF REVENUE TO CHIEF
(TNSA: BRP: Vol.1011, No.46 Pro.21.2.1825 pp.1412-26)
1. With reference to the instruction of government conveyed in a letter from the Secretary to government in the Revenue Department under date the 2nd July 1822 and to Mr Secretary Stoke’s letter of the 21st ultimo, I am directed by the Board of Revenue to submit for the information of the Honorable the Governor-in-Council the correspondence noted in the margin regarding the actual state of education in the Provinces under this government.
Circular to all Collectors dated 25th July 1822
From the Collector of Ganjam dated 27 October in consultations: 6th November 1823.
From the Collector of Vizagapatam 14th April in consultations: 1st May 1823
From the Collector of Rajahmundry 19th September in consultations: 2nd October 1823
From the Collector of Masulipatam 3rd September in consultations: 13th January 1823
From the Collector of Guntoor 9th September in consultations: 14th July 1823
Collector of Nellore 23rd June in consultations:
30th June 1823
From the Collector of Bellary 17th June in consultations: 25th August 1823
From the Collector of Cuddapah 11th June in consultations: 17th February 1825
From the Collector of Chingleput 3rd June in consultations: 7th April 1823
From the Principal Collector in the Northern Division of Arcot 3rd June in consultations: 10th March 1823.
From the Principal Collector in Southern Division of Arcot 29th June in consultations: 7th July 1823
From the Collector of Salem 8th June in consultations: 14th July 1823
From the Principal Collector of Tanjore 28th June in consultations: 3rd July 1823
From the Collector of Trichinopoly 23rd June in consultations: 28th August 1823
From the Collector of Madura 5th February in consultations: 13th February 1823
From the Collector of Tinnevelly 18th October in consultations: 28th October 1822 & 7th November in consultations: 18th November 1822
From the Principal Collector of Coimbatore 23rd November in consultations: 2nd December 1822
From the Principal Collector of Malabar 5th August in consultations: 14th August 1823
From the Principal Collector of Canara 27th August in consultations: 5th September 1822
From the Assistant Collector of Seringapatam 29th October in consultation: 4th November 1822
From the Collector of Madras 13th October in consultations: 14th November 1822 & 12th October in consultations: 14th February 1825
2. An abstract statement prepared from the reports of the several Collectors’ is also submitted for the purpose of exhibiting at one view the information required by the government.
3. This abstract is in the Form transmitted by government, with an additional column showing the amount of population in each district according to the Census as some of the Collectors have stated the numbers differently. Under the head of remarks the information required by the government regarding the time which scholars usually continue at school, the monthly or yearly charge to the scholars and other particulars is concisely stated.
4. It will be observed that the schools now existing in the country are for the most part supported by the payments of the people who send their children to them for instruction. The rate of payment for each scholar varies in different districts and according to the different circumstance of the parents of the pupils, from 1 anna to 4 rupees per mensem, the ordinary rate among the poorer classes appears to be generally about 4 annas, and seldom to exceed ½ rupee.
5. In a few districts only there are endowments for the support of schools and colleges. In Rajahmundry 69 teachers of Sciences possess endowments in land, and 13 allowances in money granted by former Zemindars. In Nellore certain individuals, Bramins and Mussulmans, are in possession of allowances in land and money granted by the Carnatic Government for teaching the Vedas, etc., and Arabic and Persian respectively to the amount of rupees 1,467 per annum.
In the Northern Division of Arcot, 28 colleges are supported by mauniums and Marahs granted by former governments yielding rupees 516 per annum, and 6 Persian schools are maintained at the public expense at an annual charge of rupees 1,861. In Salem Enam lands estimated to yield rupees 1,109 per annum are appropriated to the support of 20 teachers of Theology, etc., and one Mussulman school has land allowed for its support yielding annually 20 rupees. In Tanjore 44 schools and 71 colleges are supported by His Highness the Rajah—There is no school, or college, endowed particularly by the Circar but there are free schools maintained by the Mission established in Tanjore which possess a Survamanniam, the annual value whereof is estimated at 1,100 rupees. In the District of Trichinopoly there are 7 schools which possess endowments in land to the extent of 46 cawnies supported by the Zamorin Rajah which has also some land attached granted by former governments. In Malabar there is one college to it.
6. It does not appear from the Reports of the Collectors that any public endowments for the advancement of learning have been diverted from their original purpose or resumed except in Salem and Coimbatore. The Collector of Salem says that lands yielding rupees 384 formerly devoted to this object were sequestered before the acquisition of the country by the British Government and their produce has since been included in the revenue of government. The Principal Collector of Coimbatore reports that Mauniums, etc., granted in former times for the support of colleges to the value of rupees 2,208 have been resumed either by the Mussulman or the British Government.
7. The late Collector of Bellary having stated in his report that none of the institutions for education at present existing in that district derive support from the state added ‘there is no doubt that in former times especially under the Hindoo Government very large grants both in money and in land were issued for the support of learning’, and further stated his opinion that many of the Yeomiahs and Shrotriums now held by Bramins in the district may be traced to this source. No conditions he observed ‘are stated in the grants issued by the former governments; they all purport to flow from the free bounty of the ruling power merely to aid the maintenance of some holy or learned man. But they were almost universally granted to learned or religious persons, who maintained schools for one or more of the Sciences and taught therein gratuitously; and though not expressed in the deed itself the duty of continuing such gratuitous instruction was certainly implied in all such grants.’ It does not appear upon what grounds Mr Campbell founded his opinion so confidently that the implied condition of the grants referred to was the continuance of gratuitous instruction; but it seems not to be the result of particular investigation. Mr Campbell further suggested with the view of covering the expense of a general arrangement proposed by him in this report for the improvement of education that it might be provided that ‘on the demise—of any persons now holding Yeomiahs or alienated lands a new enquiry be instituted and that though the same may have been continued for more than one generation by the British Government it may be resumed and carried to a new fund to be termed, “the school fund”, unless it is clearly stated in the body of the original grant to be hereditary, or the intention of the ruling power at the time to make such grant hereditary be clearly proved to the satisfaction of government.’ The Board have little doubt that the resumption of lands now alienated, in the manner suggested by Mr Campbell would produce ample funds for the purpose contemplated but they conceive that the two objects in view, namely, the recovery of alienated lands, and the establishment of a fund for the support of schools should be kept entirely distinct and separate. The establishment of schools in every part of the country under any general plan should be regulated by the wants of the people in the respect to education and should not in any degree depend upon the accidental circumstance of the amount of a particular fund being great or less in different situations.
8. The Board think it proper to offer this remark in regard to the suggestion of Mr Campbell which has just been noticed, but it appears to them to be unnecessary at this time to discuss the plan proposed by him for the improvement of education and his general speculations on the subject conceiving it to be the desire of government at present only to receive information regarding the actual state of education in order that it may be seen what are the deficiencies to be supplied.
9. That these deficiencies are lamentably great is shown in every one of the reports now submitted, and the general result of the whole from which it appears that out of a population estimated by the Census at above 12 million and a half only about 1,88,000 are receiving instruction or about 13¾ percent is most unsatisfactory.
10. It will be remarked that no statement is submitted of the number of schools, etc., in Canara. The late Principal Collector reported that education is conducted in that district so much in private that any statement of the number of schools and of the scholars attending them would be of little or no use, but on the contrary rather fallacious in forming an estimate of the proportion of the population receiving instruction. He stated generally that there are no colleges in Canara for the cultivation of ‘abstract Science, neither are there any fixed schools and masters to teach in them. There is no instance known of any institution of the above descriptions having even received support in any shape from the former government.’
11. Notwithstanding the observations of Mr Harris the Board have thought it proper to call again upon the present Principal Collector to furnish a Statement of Schools, etc., prepared in the form transmitted by government which shall be submitted to the Hon’ble the Governor-in-Council as soon as it is received.
Fort St. George, J. Dent,
21st February, 1825. Secretary.
(Statement on following pages)
There are no schools or colleges in this district endowed by the Circar. The teachers in the schools are paid monthly by the scholars at various rates from 4 annas to 1 rupee each. The Shastras, etc., are usually taught privately to Bramins. The statement is not complete in respect to the Hill Zemindaries from which satisfactory accounts could not be procured.
It does not appear that there are any colleges in this district. The schools are not endowed by the public; 2 only are stated to receive a payment from the Zemindar of Chamoodoo at the rate of 50 rupees annually. The teachers are paid at various rates from one anna to 1 rupee for each scholar per mensem. Private teachers in families of respectability are paid a monthly or yearly stipend according to their acquirement and the rank and opulence of their employer.
Some of the schools in this district are endowed by the public. The teachers are paid by the scholars at rates varying from 1 rupee to 2 annas, 7 annas being the average rate per mensem. The scholars are entered at school in their fifth year and continue at their studies from 5 to 7 years. The number of professors or teachers of the Sciences is 279; of these 69 possess allowances in land and 13 in money granted by former Zemindars; 196 teach their scholars without fee or reward and only one is supported by his scholars. In the villages in which no schools at present exist the inhabitants are desirous of having them established. It might be done with a small contribution from government to the pay of the teachers. The Collector considered 2 rupees a month to each to be sufficient.
None of the institutions for the purpose of education in this district appear to have been regularly endowed. One Charity School only is supported at Ellore by the Zemindar by the payment of a monthly stipend of 3 pagodas to the teacher. The scholars usually enter in the schools in their 5th year and continue in them until they are from 12 to 16 years of age. The greater proportion are then employed on public or private business, the Vedika Bramins only being removed from schools to college for the purpose of being instructed in Theology and other Sciences. The charges on account of a boy at school are about the average of 6 annas for paper, cadjan, etc., and from 4 annas to 2 rupees to the school master monthly. The Sciences are taught in the colleges generally gratis by Bramins holding Mauniums, etc. Some teachers, however, are supported by contributions from their scholars but receive no fixed allowance. The average charge to a scholar at college for his subsistence, books, etc., is 60 rupees per annum. In most parts of the country instruction in the Vedas, etc., is also given by the Bramins privately. The schools in which the Persian language is taught are few. Mussulman scholars remain at school from 6 years of age to 15, the pay of the teachers is from ¼ to 1 rupee and the other charges of the scholars are estimated at 4 annas a month; some learned Mussulmans give instruction gratis.
There are no schools in this district endowed by the public and no colleges for instruction in the Sciences. The Sciences are taught privately by learned Bramins without any remuneration. These Bramins generally hold mauniums, etc., granted by the ancient Zemindars and by the former governments for various reasons, but there is no instance of any grant in money or land, specially for the purpose of maintaining teachers of the Sciences. The charge for the education of a boy at school varies from 2 annas to 2 rupees monthly. Three rupees a month is requisite for the subsistence of a scholar while he is studying the Sciences.
This statement gives the number of schools in the district not endowed by the public. There are besides 26 individuals who have scholars as shown by a separate statement B viz. 15 Bramins, and 11 Mussulmans who are in possession of allowances in money and land granted by the Carnatic Government for teaching the Vedas, etc., and Arabic and Persian respectively to the amount of rupees 1,467 per annum. Boys are generally sent to school at 5 years of age where they are said to remain from 3 to 6 years. The school master receives from 2 annas to 4 rupees monthly for each scholar. The scholar has also to pay about one rupee for writing materials, etc., and his subsistence is estimated at 3 rupees a month. Besides his fixed allowance occasional presents are made by the scholars to their teacher.
The schools are not all of permanent continuance—some depend upon circumstances, schools being some times established by the joint subscriptions of several families especially for the education of their own children which being accomplished they are discontinued. The difference between the amount of population in this statement and in the report of the Census is accounted for by the population of the Zemindaries being included in the former and not in the latter.
None of the schools in this district at present derive support from the state. There appear to be no regular colleges but in 23 cases of instruction attended by Bramins exclusively some of the Sciences, etc., are taught imperfectly in the Sanscrit language. In the schools some children continue only 5 years, while others whose parents are opulent not infrequently remain as long as fourteen and fifteen years. It appears that the teacher is paid at various rates according to the class to which the scholar may belong—while learning the first rudiments it is common for the scholar to pay a quarter of a rupee and when arrived so far as to write on paper or at the higher branches of Arithmetic half a rupee per mensem. But on proceeding further such demands are made as exceed the means of most parents. Their children are therefore left only partially instructed—and there are multitudes who cannot avail themselves even of this imperfect education for their children. The diffusion of common instruction is said to be less extensive than it was formerly. In many villages where formerly there were schools, there are now none, and in many others where there were large schools, now only a few of the children of the most opulent are taught, others being unable from poverty to attend or to pay what is demanded. Instructions in the Sciences is given gratuitously as of old, by a few learned Bramins to their disciples.
There are in this District no public institutions for education supported by grants of land or allowances from the government, nor are any known to have existed. The schools which exist are supported by the parents of the scholars. The charge for instruction is variable rising as the scholar is promoted from the lowest to the higher classes. The average for the lowest class is about ¼ rupee per mensem, and increases to 1 rupee and 1½ rupee which rate it rarely exceeds. In the Bramin caste, boys are put to school at the age of 5 or 6 and among the Sudras at from 6 to 8. Boys are said to be kept at school generally no longer than 2 years in which time they are expected to have attained all that they are desired to acquire, that is a certain degree of knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic in which they are afterwards to improve themselves by practice at home, in a shop, or in a public office. The only schools which can be denominated public in this district are the charity schools at Cuddapah, supported by the European gentlemen of the place. There are no schools or colleges for instruction in the Sciences. Theology, Law and Astronomy are taught privately, the pupils residing in the houses of their preceptors. Besides the instruction afforded in the schools to those whose parents are able to pay for it, it is also given gratuitously in many places by Bramins to those of their own caste who have no other means of obtaining it—young Bramins for the sake of receiving instruction in this way, leave their homes and wait upon the preceptor in his own village, where they are supported by the daily charity of the Bramins residing in it.
There are no colleges properly so called in this district but there are a few places in which the higher branches of learning are taught to a small number of pupils—a village school master earns from 3½ to 12 rupees per month—the average is not more than 7 rupees. It does not appear that any allowance was made by the Native Governments for the promotion of education but in some villages there are trifling mauniums from a quarter of a Cawny to 2 Cawnies of land for Theological teachers.
Of the 69 colleges in this district it appears by a separate statement No.2 submitted by the Principal Collector that 43 are for Theology, 24 for Law, etc., and 2 for Astronomy; 28 of these colleges are supported by mauniums and marahs granted by former governments yielding rupees 516 per annum—The allowance to each teacher for the lower class is rupees 3-8- per annum and for the higher class rupees 36-12-. Of the rest the greater number are free of charge and a few are supported by trifling contributions from the scholars. The period of attendance at the colleges is from 8 to 12 years. Of the Hindoo schools only 3 are free of charge. The rest are supported by payments from the scholars varying from 1 anna 3 pice per mensem to 1 rupee 12 annas. Of the Persian schools 6 are maintained at the public expense at a yearly charge of rupees 1,361. The greater proportion are supported by the scholars who pay from 2 annas 6 pice to 2 rupees a month to their teachers. In the Hindoo schools the scholars continue 5 or 6 years, in the Mussulman schools 7 or 8 years. Of the 7 English schools 3 are free of charge and in the others the scholars pay monthly from 10 annas to 3 rupees 8 annas. It appears that this statement does not include the Zemindaries and Pollams which form a large portion of the district their population being estimated at nearly 3 lacs.
No allowance was ever granted by the Native Governments for the support of schools in this district. There are no public or private institutions for teaching Theology, Law, Astronomy, etc. The schools are supported entirely by the scholars who pay from 1 fanam to 1 pagoda monthly.
None of the Hindoo schools in this district are endowed by the public and only one Mussulman school has land allowed for its support yielding 20 rupees per annum; a Yeomiah was enjoyed by a former master of this school amounting to 56 rupees a year. On his death it was discontinued having been on a tenure for life. The period of attendance at school is from 3 to 5 years. The yearly charge for each scholar is never less than 3 rupees a year in the Hindoo schools and from 15 to 20 rupees in the Mussulman schools. Enam lands estimated to yield rupees 1,109 per annum are appropriated to the support of 20 teachers of Theology, Law and Astronomy, and the present possessors perform the duties; other lands yielding rupees 384 per annum were formerly devoted to the same object, but were sequestered before the acquisition of the country by the British Government and the produce of them has since been included in the revenues of government.
Of the schools in this district 44 are free schools. The rest are supported by payments from the scholars at the rate of 4 D fanams monthly for each—19 of the free schools belong to the Missions and it is believed that there are more not included in the Report. In 21 the masters are paid by the Rajah and in 1 by the Trevalore Pagoda, in the remaining 23 the masters teach gratuitously. There are none individually endowed by the Circar, but for the general support of the Mission at Tanjore—there is a Survamaunium of one village the annual value of which is estimated at 1,100 rupees. The scholars are usually kept at school about 5 years. Of the colleges in number 109 there are 99 in which instruction is given free of charge, of these 71 are supported by the Rajah in the town of Tanjore and villages belonging to his Highness; in 16 the masters teach gratuitously, 1 only is endowed with a maunium, 7 are supported by a Pagoda, 3 by private donations and 1 by village contribution. In the remaining 10 colleges the masters are paid by their scholars. These colleges are for Bramins only. The Hindoo Sciences are taught in them. The population of those villages only in which there are schools is shown in this statement, not the general population of the district.
There are no schools or colleges in this district for the support of which any public funds are appropriated and no institution for teaching Astronomy, Theology or any other Sciences. In the talook of Jyalore alone there are 7 schools which were formerly endowed by the Native Government with between 46 and 47 Cawnies of land for the maintenance of the teachers. The scholars generally continue at school from the age of 7 to 15. The average yearly expense of education is about 7 pagodas.
It does not appear that any mauniam lands in this district are assigned for the support of schools. The teachers are paid by the poorer class of people from ½ fanam to 1 fanam for each scholar monthly and from 2 to 3 and 5 fanams by those in better circumstances—a teacher receives in this manner from 30 to 60 Cully fanams or from 2 to 3¾ pagodas a month in large villages and from 10 to 30 fanams in small villages. Scholars usually enter school at the age of 5 and leave it at from 12 to 15. There are no colleges in this district. In Agraharam villages a small portion of maunium land is usually allotted to those Bramins who study the Vedas and they gratuitously instruct such pupils as come to them.
There appear to be no colleges in Tinnevelly.
The schools in this district appear to be supported entirely by the people who send their children to them for instruction.
The annual payment for each scholar varies from 14 rupees to 3 rupees per annum, according to the circumstances of the parents. The masters besides their regular stipends occasionally receive presents from the parents of their pupils; they have also small fees on particular occasions. The earliest age at which boys attend school is 5 years; they continue there until they are 13 or 14. Those who study Theology, Law, etc., enter the colleges at about 15 and continue to frequent them until they have attained a competent knowledge of the Sciences or until they obtain employment, a statement is given of mauniums, etc., granted in former times for the support of colleges, but now resumed to the value of Rs. 2,208-7-.
In Malabar there is only one regular college for instruction in the Sciences, but these are taught privately. The private teachers are not paid a fixed stipend but presents are made to them by their pupils when their education is completed. The school masters receive monthly from each scholar from ¼ rupee to 4 rupees independent of some remuneration when the scholar leaves school. The only college which exists in this district was established and is now supported by the Zamorin Rajah who allows about 2,000 rupees annually for the maintenance of the pupils and 200 rupees to the Instructor; some land also appertains to it—a history of this college, furnished by the Zamorin Rajah is submitted.
It is stated that there are no traces on records of endowments in lands towards the support of colleges and schools on the island of Seringapatam, having been granted by any former government or private individual. The teachers in the schools are supported by their scholars. The average monthly charge for each scholar is 5 annas and the average annual income of the masters from this source is about 57 rupees.
In this statement two descriptions of schools are included, native schools for the education of Hindoo and Mussulman children respectively, and charity schools in which the scholars are of various religions and castes indifferently. The children in the native schools are generally sent to them at the age of 5 years, the term of their continuance there depends upon circumstances, but it is stated that they generally acquire a competent knowledge of the various branches of learning taught to them before they attain their thirteenth year. The Collector states that there are no schools endowed by the public, excepting the charity schools. The payments to a teacher seldom exceed 12 pagodas per annum for each scholar. The Sciences are in some instances taught gratuitously to the children of the poorer class of Bramins and sometimes an allowance is made to the teachers. It will be observed that the estimate of the population of Madras in this statement is greatly too high, and there is reason to suppose that the proportion receiving instruction and the number of schools are stated too low.
MINUTE OF SIR THOMAS MUNRO, MARCH 10, 1826
(Fort St. George, Revenue
10 March 1826
1. The Board of Revenue were directed by government, on the 2nd July 1822, to ascertain the number of schools and the state of education among the natives in the provinces, and with their letter of the 21st February last, they transmitted the reports on this subject which they had received from the several Collectors. From these reports it appears that the number of schools, and of what are called colleges, in the territories under this presidency, amount to 12,498, and the population to 12,850,941; so that there is one school to every 1,000 of the population; but as only a very few females are taught in schools, we may reckon one school to every 500 of the population.
2. It is remarked by the Board of Revenue, that of a population of 12½ millions, there are only 188,000, or 1 in 67 receiving education. This is true of the whole population, but not as regards the male part of it, of which the proportion educated is much greater than is here estimated: for if we take the whole population as stated in the report at 12,850,000, and deduct one half for females, the remaining male population will be 6,425,000; and if we reckon the male population between the ages of five and ten years, which is the period which boys in general remain at school, at one-ninth, it will give 713,000, which is the number of boys that would be at school if all the males above ten years of age were educated; but the number actually attending the schools is only 184,110, or little more than one-fourth of that number. I have taken the interval between five and ten years of age as the term of education, because, though many boys continue at school till twelve or fourteen, many leave it under ten. I am, however, inclined to estimate the portion of the male population who receive school education to be nearer to one-third than one-fourth of the whole, because we have no returns from the provinces of the numbers taught at home. In Madras that number taught at home is 26,963, or about five times greater than that taught in the schools. There is probably some error in this number, and though the number privately taught in the provinces does certainly not approach this rate, it is no doubt considerable, because the practice of boys being taught at home by their relations or private teachers is not infrequent in any part of the country. The proportion educated is very different in different classes; in some it is nearly the whole; in others it is hardly one-tenth.
3. The state of education here exhibited, low as it is compared with that of our own country, is higher than it was in most European countries at no very distant period. It has, no doubt been better in earlier times; but for the last century it does not appear to have undergone any other change than what arose from the number of schools diminishing in one place and increasing in another, in consequence of the shifting of the population, from war and other causes. The great number of schools has been supposed to contribute to the keeping of education in a low state, because it does not give a sufficient number of scholars to secure the service of able teachers. The monthly rate paid by each scholar is from four to six or eight annas. Teachers in general do not earn more than six or seven rupees monthly, which is not an allowance sufficient to induce men properly qualified to follow the profession. It may also be said that the general ignorance of the teachers themselves is one cause why none of them draw together a large body of scholars; but the main causes of the low state of education are the little encouragement which it receives, from there being but little demand for it, and the poverty of the people.
4. These difficulties may be gradually surmounted; the hindrance which is given to education by the poverty of the people may in a great degree be removed by the endowment of schools throughout the country by government, and the want of encouragement will be remedied by good education being rendered more easy and general, and by the preference which will naturally be given to well-educated men in all public offices. No progress, however, can be made without a body of better instructed teachers than we have at present; but such a body cannot be had without an income sufficient to afford a comfortable livelihood to each individual belonging to it; a moderate allowance should therefore be secured to them by government, sufficient to place them above want; the rest should be derived from their own industry. If they are superior both in knowledge and diligence to the common village school masters, scholars will flock to them and augment their income.
5. What is first wanted, therefore, is a school for educating teachers, as proposed by the committee of the Madras School-Book Society, in the letter of the 25th October 1824, which accompanied their second report. I think that they should be authorised to draw 700 rupees monthly from the treasury for the purposes which they have stated; namely, for the payment of the interest of money employed in building, and the salaries of teachers, 500; and for the expenses of the press, 200. I would next propose that government should establish, in each Collectorate, two principal schools, one for Hindoos and the other for Mahomedans; and that hereafter, as teachers can be found the Hindoo schools might be augmented so as to give one to each tehsildary, or about 15 to each Collectorate. We ought to extend to our Mahomedan the same advantages of education as to our Hindoo subjects, and perhaps even in a greater degree, because a greater proportion of them belong to the middle and higher classes. But as their number is not more than one-twentieth of that of the Hindoos, it will not be necessary to give more than one Mahomedan school to each Collectorate, except in Arcot, and a few other Collectorates, where the Mahomedan population is considerably above the usual standard.
6. We have 20 Collectorates; the number of tehsildaries is liable to change: but it will be sufficient for the present purpose to estimate them at 15 on an average to each Collectorate, or 300 in all. This would, according to the plan proposed give about 40 collectorate and 300 tehsildary schools. The monthly salaries of the teachers of the collectorate schools might, on an average, be 15 rupees to each, and those of the tehsildary nine rupees each. These allowances may appear small, but the tehsiladry school master who receives nine rupees monthly from government, will get at least as much more from his scholars, and, considering all circumstances, his situation will probably be better than that of a parish school master in Scotland.
7. The total expense of the schools will be as follows:
Madras School-Book Society per month Rs. 700
20 at 15 rupees Rs. 300
Collectorate Schools, Hindoo, 20 at 15 rupees Rs. 300
Tehsildary Schools, 300 at 9 rupees Rs. 2,700
Per month Rs. 4,000
Per annum Rs.48,000
This expense will be incurred only be degrees, because it will be long before a sufficient number of qualified teachers can be obtained. The charges for the Madras School-Book Society and the collectorate schools, are all that will probably be wanted before the sanction of the Honorable Court can be received. The sum for which we ought to request their sanction ought not to be less than half a lakh of rupees. None of the endowments in the Collectors’ reports are applicable to the present object; they do not exceed 20,000 rupees in all, and only a small portion of them are public grants, and this small portion belongs chiefly to the teachers of Theology, Law and Astronomy. Whatever expense government may incur in the education of the people, will be amply repaid by the improvement of the country; for the general diffusion of knowledge is inseparably followed by more orderly habits, by increasing industry, by a taste for the comforts of life, by exertion to acquire them, and by the growing prosperity of the people.
8. It will be advisable to appoint a Committee of Public Instruction, in order to superintend the establishing of the public schools; to fix on the places most proper for them, and the books to be used in them; to ascertain in what manner the instruction of the natives may be best promoted, and to report to government the result of their inquiries on this important subject.
9. We must not be too sanguine in expecting any sudden benefit from the labours of the School-Book Society. Their disposition to promote the instruction of the people by educating teachers, will not extend it to more individuals than now attend the schools; it can be extended only by means of an increased demand for it, and this must arise chiefly from its being found to facilitate the acquisition of wealth or rank, and from the improvement in the condition of the people rendering a larger portion of them more able to pay for it. But though they cannot educate those who do not seek or cannot pay for education, they can, by an improved system give a better education to those who do receive it; and by creating and encouraging a taste for knowledge, they will indirectly contribute to extend it. If we resolve to educate the people, if we persevere in our design, and if we do not limit the schools to tehsildaries, but increase their number so as to allow them for smaller districts, I am confident that success will ultimately attend our endeavours. But, at the same time, I entirely concur in the opinion expressed in the 5th Report of the Calcutta School-Book Society, when speaking of the progress of the system, that ‘its operation must therefore of necessity be slow; years must elapse before the rising generation will exhibit any visible improvement.’
FRA PAOLINO DA BARTOLOMEO
ON EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN INDIA
(Born at Hos, Austria, 1748, as John Phillip Wesdin; in India 1776 to 1789. From Voyages to the East Indies (Published, Rome, 1796, Berlin, 1798, England, 1880), Book II: Birth and Education of Children (pp.253-268))
All the Grecian historians represent the Indians as people of greater size, and much more robust than those of other nations. Though this is not true in general, it is certain that the purity of the air, wholesome nourishment, temperance and education contribute, in an uncommon degree, to the bodily conformation, and to the increase of these people. Their new-born children lie always on the ground, as if they were thrown away or neglected; and they are never wrapped up with bandages, or confined in any other manner, as is done in Europe. Their limbs, therefore, can expand themselves without the least restraint; their nerves and bones become more solid; and when these children attain the period of youth, they acquire not only a beautiful figure, but a sound, well turned, and robust bodily conformation. The frequent use of the cold bath, repeated rubbing the body with coconut oil and the juice of the Ingia plant, as well as their exercises, which have a great resemblance to the Juvenilia, and which I have often seen in Malabar, all contribute to increase their strength and agility. These advantages also are seldom lost, unless some of these young people abandon themselves to debauchery, or weaken their bodies by too great labour or excessive perspiration. However healthful and lively the young Indians may be in general those who marry before the twentieth year of their age, for the most part, soon become feeble and enervated. In a word, I seldom saw in India a person either lame, crooked, or otherwise deformed. The people of Malabar, who live towards the west, are much handsomer and more robust than the natives of Coromandel, or the Tamulians on the eastern coast of India.
The education of youth in India is much simpler, and not near so expensive as in Europe. The children assemble half naked under the shade of a coconut tree; place themselves in rows on the ground, and trace out on the sand, with the fore finger of the right hand, the elements of their alphabet, and then smooth it with the left when they wish to trace out other characters. The writing master, called Agian, or Eluttacien, who stations himself opposite to his pupils, examines what they have done; points out their faults, and shows them how to correct them. At first, he attends them standing; but when the young people have acquired some readiness in writing, he places himself cross-legged on a tiger’s or deer’s skin, or even on a mat made of the leaves of the coconut-tree, or wild ananas, which is called Kaida*, plaited together. This method of teaching writing was introduced into India two hundred years before the birth of Christ, according to the testimony of Magasthenes, and still continues to be practised. No people, perhaps, on earth have adhered so much to their ancient usages and customs as the Indians.
A schoolmaster in Malabar receives every two months, from each of his pupils, for the instruction given them, two Fanon or Panam. Some do not pay in money, but give him a certain quantity of rice, so that this expense becomes very easy to the parents. There are some teachers who instruct children without any fee, and are paid by the overseers of the temple, or by the chief of the caste. When the pupils have made tolerable progress in writing, they are admitted into certain schools, called Eutupalli, where they begin to write on palm leaves (Pana), which, when several of them are stitched together, and fastened between two boards, form a Grantha, that is, an Indian book. If such a book be written upon with an iron style, it is called Granthavari, or Lakya, that is, writing, to distinguish it from Alakya, which is something not written.
When the Guru, or teacher, enters the school, he is always received with the utmost reverence and respect. His pupils must throw themselves down at full length before him; place their right hand on their mouth, and not venture to speak a single word until he gives them express permission. Those who talk and prate contrary to the prohibition of their master are expelled from the school, as boys who cannot restrain their tongue, and who are consequently unfit for the study of philosophy. By these means the preceptor always receives that respect which is due to him: the pupils are obedient, and seldom offend against rules which are so carefully inculcated. The chief branches taught by the Guru are: 1st, the principles of writing and accounts: 2nd, the Samscred grammar, which contains the declensions and conjugations; in Malabar it is called Sidharuba; but, in Bengal Sarasvada, or the art of speaking with elegance: 3rd, the second part of this grammar, which contains the syntax, or the book Vyagarna: 4th, the Amarasinha, or Brahmanic dictionary. This work, which is highly esteemed by the Brahmans, does not consist, as Anquetil du Perron says, of three, but of four parts; and contains everything that relates to the gods, the sciences, colours and sounds, the earth, seas and rivers, men and animals, as well as to the arts and all kinds of employment in India. To render the construction of the Samscred language, and its emphatic mode of expression, more familiar to their pupils, the Guru employs various short sentences clothed in Samscred verse, which are called Shloga. These verses serve not only as examples of the manner in which the words must be combined with each other, but contain, at the same time, most excellent moral maxims, which are thus imprinted in the minds of the young people as if in play; so that, while learning the language, they are taught rules proper for forming their character, and directing their future conduct in life. That the reader may be better enabled to conceive some idea of the morality of the Brahmans, I shall here subjoin a specimen of these sentences.
I. What is the use of study, if the object of it be not to learn knowledge and fear, which is true wisdom?
II. Why have we ceased living in the forests, and associated ourselves in cities and towns, if the object of our doing so be not to enjoy friendship; to do good mutually to each other, and to receive in our habitations the stranger and wanderer?
III. The wounds occasioned by a slanderous tongue occasion far more pain, and are much more difficult to be healed, than those which proceed from fire and the sword.
IV. Of what use is it to thee to shut the door of thy house? It is necessary in order that thy wife may learn to be upon her guard.
V. He who revenges an injury enjoys a pleasure which endures only a day; but he who forgives receives a satisfaction which will accompany him through life.
VI. Modesty becomes every one, but is a particular ornament to the learned and rich.
VII. The state of a married pair, who never deviate from the path of honour, virtue, and mutual duty, is as difficult as that of those who impose on themselves the several penances.
In the gardens, or sacred enclosures, in which children are taught, the Lingam, or Priapus, represented under the form of a cylinder, is generally found. It is, however, not worshipped by all the Indians, but only by the Shivanites. These are a particular sect, who pay divine honour to Fire, under the form of the god Shiva, as the principle or creative power by which everything was produced. Besides the above idol, there are two other statues, which, for the most part, are placed before the entrance of the school. One of them represents Ganesha, the protector of the sciences, and of learned men; and the other the goddess Sarasvadi, the goddess of eloquence and history. Every student, as he enters the school, always directs his eyes to these two idols; raises his hands to his head, and shows his respect for them by repeating certain forms of prayer. That with which he salutes Ganesha is commonly in the following words: Sal Guruve nama: Adoration to thee, thou true master. Or, Ganabadaye name: Adoration to thee, O Ganabadi. This is real idolatry; but these practices at any rate prove that the Indians accustom their children early to honour the gods, and to consider them as their protectors and benefactors. “Those who are desirous of knowing the power of religion, and the influence of religious opinions,” said the Marquis of Kergariou, who commanded the Calypso frigate, “need only go to India”. This observation is indeed just; for among 2000 Indians you will scarcely find one who is not convinced of the necessity of supplicating the gods. Education, and the nature of the climate, are the strongest incitements to the natives to worship the deity, and to submit themselves to his will.
The other sciences and branches of learning taught to the Indian youth are: Poetry, Gavya; Fencing, Payatta; Botany and medicine, Vaydyassastra, or Bheszagiashastra: Navigation, Naushastra: The use of the spear on foot (Hastiludium), Cundera: The art of playing at ball, Pandacali: Chess, Ciudarangam: Tennis, Coladi: Logic, Tarkashastra: Astrology, Giodisha: Law, Svadhyaya: Silence, Mauna.(Youth destined to be Brahmans, must spend ten years within the precincts of the temple at Trichur, and avoid all intercourse with the female sex. They are obliged also to observe the strictest silence, which continues for five years. This is the first degree of philosophy. A. It thence appears, that Phythagoras must have borrowed his philosophy in part from the Indian Philosophers, or others whose doctrine was similar, for his scholars were subjected to silence for the same number of years. See Diogenes Lacrtus, lib.viii.10, and Aul. Gollius, Noct, Att, 1-ib. i.9F.) The reader will have already remarked, that surgery, anatomy, and geography are excluded from this catalogue. The Indians are of opinion, that their country is the most beautiful and happiest in the whole world: and for that reason they have very little desire to be acquainted with foreign kingdoms. Their total abstinence from all flesh, and the express prohibition of their religion which forbids them to kill animals, prevent them from dissecting them and examining their internal construction.
Of the Indian poetry I have already spoken in my Samscred grammar; and I shall give some further account of it hereafter. Their navigation is confined merely to their navigable rivers; for in general, the Pagan Indians have the greatest aversion to the sea. The management of the lance, fencing, playing at ball and tennis, have been introduced into their education on good grounds, to render their youth active and robust, and that they may not want dexterity to distinguish themselves in battles and engagements where cannons are not used. There are particular masters for all these exercises, arts and sciences; and each of them, as already mentioned, is treated with particular respect by the pupils. Twice a year each master receives a piece of silk, which he employs for clothing; and this present is called Samanam.
All the Indian girls, those alone excepted who belong to the castes of the Shudras and Nayris, are confined at home till their twelfth year; and when they go out, they are always accompanied by their mother or aunt. They inhabit a particular division of the house, called Andarggraha, which none of the male sex dare approach. The boys, in the ninth year of their age, are initiated with great ceremony into the calling or occupation of the caste to which their father belongs, and which they can never abandon. This law, mention of which occurs in Diodorous Siculus, Strabo, Arrian, and other Greek writers, is indeed exceedingly hard; but, at the same time, it is of great benefit to civil order, the arts and sciences, and even to religion. According to a like regulation, no one is allowed to marry from one caste into another. Hence it happens that the Indians do not follow that general and superficial method of education by which children are treated as if they were all intended for the same condition and for discharging the same duties; but those of each caste are from their infancy formed for what they are to be during their whole lives. A future Brahman, for example, is obliged, from his earliest years, to employ himself in reading and writing, and to be present at the presentation of offerings, to calculate eclipses of the sun and moon; to study the laws and religious practices; to cast nativities; in short to learn every thing, which, according to the injunction of the Veda, or sacred books of the Indians, it is necessary he should know. The Vayshya on the other hand, instruct youth in agriculture; the Kshetria, in the science of government and the military arts, the Shudra, in mechanics, the Mucaver, in fishing; the Ciana, in gardening and the Banyen, in commerce.
By this establishment the knowledge of a great many things necessary for the public good is not only widely diffused, but transmitted to posterity; who are thereby enabled still farther to improve them, and bring them nearer to perfection. In the time of Alexander the Great, the Indians had acquired such skill in the mechanical arts, that Nearchus, the commander of his fleet, was much amazed at the dexterity with which they imitated the accoutrements of the Grecian soldiers. I once found myself in a similar situation. Having entrusted to an Indian artist a lamp made in Portugal, the workmanship of which was exceedingly pretty, some days after he brought me another so like my own that I could scarcely distinguish any difference. It, however, cannot be denied, that the arts and sciences in India have greatly declined since foreign conquerors expelled the native kings; by which several provinces have been laid entirely waste, and the castes confounded with each other. Before that period, the different kingdoms were in a flourishing condition; the laws were respected, and justice and civil order prevailed; but, unfortunately, at present everything in many of the provinces must give way to absolute authority and despotic sway.
MALABAR BIBLIOGRAPHY, THEIR
LITERATURE, EDUCATION—SYSTEM BORROWED FROM IT. ACCOUNT OF IT FROM PETER DELLA VALLE.
CUSTOM IN MALABAR TO TRANSLATE WORKS FROM SANSCRIT, MANNER OF WRITING OR ENGRAVING ON LEAVES. QUOTATION FROM LUSIAD. LIST OF BOOKS.
(National Library of Scotland Edinburgh: Walker of Bowland Papers 184 a 3, Chapter 31: pp.501-27)
I do not propose to give a history of the literature of Malabar; far less to enquire into the origin and progress of the sciences of India. I mean only to preface by a few observations a bibliographical list which I obtained many years ago (in 1800) of some of the books and authors whose works are studied in that country (Malabar).
The literature of Malabar has the same foundation, and consists of the same materials, as that of all the Hindoo nations. The whole of their original works are composed in Sanscrite, a language of great antiquity, but which is no longer spoken, though its history is intimately connected with several of the present languages of Europe, with those of Greece and Rome, and with the whole of the numerous family of cognate Gothic tongues. Sancrite holds the same place in India, that Latin and Greek do in Europe; but as it would require an amazing period of time, and many political changes in society before a language could fall into disuse and be unemployed in speech, this circumstance without any further proof, would carry us, back to the first ages. It is natural to suppose that the sciences would first prosper where men were not exposed to excessive labour in order to procure the necessaries of life; plenty and tranquility would leave them at liberty to cultivate knowledge, to apply their minds to books, and learning. Unfortunately the Hindoos, like the ancients, seem to have considered that almost exclusively as science, which is more grounded on precepts and ideal pictures, than on facts and demonstration. They taught the duties of life, and explained the faculties of the mind; but, the favourite study of the Indian sages, was a metaphysical and abstruse philosophy, founded on superstition and error. They regarded logic, rhetoric and grammar with particular approbation; and those who aspired to a superior reputation, acquired those sciences with unceasing labour, and intense application. They spent their lives in their cultivation. The Hindoos made no use of experiments, and it is extraordinary that without this aid, they should have become acquainted with the most difficult and hidden branches of Mathematics, Astronomy and Algebra. Have the acquisitions been the fruits of their own study and reflection; or have they been obtained from extraneous and a more ancient source which is now forgotten and lost? It is not possible to determine these questions; and as we cannot prove that they derived their knowledge from another people, it is but fair to consider them as the inventors of all which they possess, which they have preserved through so many perils and which they must have cultivated with so much ardour.
The learning of the Malabar is probably more limited than that of the more central people of India; but they are not inattentive to the cultivation of letters. They are particularly anxious and attentive to instruct their children to read and to write. Education with them is an early and an important business in every family. Many of their women are taught to read and write. The Bramans are generally the school masters, but any of the respectable castes may, and often do, practice teaching. The children are instructed without violence, and by a process peculiarly simple. It is the same system which has caused so much heat and controversy, as to the inventors of it, in this country, and the merit of which was due to neither of the claimants.1 The system was borrowed from the Bramans and brought from India to Europe. It has been made the foundation of National schools in every enlightened country. Some gratitude is due to a people from whom we have learnt to diffuse among the lower ranks of society instruction by one of the most unerring and economical methods which has ever been invented. The pupils are the monitors of each other, and the characters are traced with a rod, or the finger on the sand. Reading and writing are acquired at the same time, and by the same process. This mode of teaching however is only initial. If the pupil is meant to study the higher branches of learning, he is removed from these primary schools, where the arts of reading, writing and accounts are acquired, and placed under more scientific masters. It is to these elementary schools that the labouring classes in India owe their education. It gives them an access, from the introduction of the system into this part of the world; advantage which the same classes in Europe, only now partially conferred on them a superior share of intelligence and placed them in a situation to perform better all the duties of life.
About 200 years ago, Peter Della Valle published an account of this mode of instruction in Malabar. He wrote from Tkkeri 22nd November 1623.
‘In the meantime,’ he says, ‘while the burthens were getting in order, I entertained myself in the porch of the temple, beholding little boys learning arithmetic after a strange manner, which I will here relate. They were four, and having all taken the same lesson before the master, to get that same by heart, and repeat likewise their former lessons, and not forget them, one of them singing musically with a certain continued tone,2 (which hath the force of making a deep impression in the memory) recited part of the lesson; as for example, “one by itself makes one”; and whilst he was thus speaking, he writ down the same number, not with any kind of pen, nor in paper, but (not to spend paper in vain) with his finger on the ground, the pavement being for that purpose strewed all over with fine sand;3 after the first had wrote what he sung, all the rest sung and writ down the same thing together. Then the first boy sung, and writ down another part of the lesson; as, for example, two by itself makes two, which all the rest repeated in the same manner; and so forward in order. When the pavement was full of figures, they put them out with the hand, and if need were, strewed it with new sand from a little heap which they had before them wherewith to write further. And thus they did as long as exercise continued; in which manner likewise they told one, they learnt to read and write without spoiling paper, pens or ink, which certainly is a pretty way. I asked them, if they happen to forget or be mistaken in any part of the lesson, who corrected and taught them, they being all scholars without the assistance of any master; they answered me, and said true, that it was not possible for all four to forget or mistake in the same part, and that they thus exercised together, to the end, that if one happened to be out, the other might correct him. Indeed a pretty, easy and secure way of learning.’4
We are continually reproaching the natives of India with the slow advances they have made in knowledge and their neglect of opportunities to acquire it. There we have an instance of the same neglect in Europeans, who have allowed two centuries to pass after they were acquainted with this invention, before they applied it to any practical use. It was at length introduced into this country without any acknowledgement and it was even claimed as an invention by two individuals who disputed upon the priority of discovery.
The Missionaries5 have now honestly owned that the system upon which these schools are taught was borrowed from India. It has been probably improved by us, but this is the fate of all original conceptions, which commonly make the most rapid advances at second hand.
No people probably appreciate more justly the importance of instruction than the Hindoos; hence instead of offering obstacles or creating opposition to the establishment of schools, they have formed institutions themselves to meet various cases of ignorance and misery. They are not averse to a spirit of enquiry and discussion.6 All they wanted was a government that would not check and discourage this spirit.
In Malabar is still to be seen the earliest mode of writing. The paper is the natural produce of the woods. They make no use of ink; the characters are engraved on the leaves of trees. The leaf of a particular palm is selected and dried until it can bear the impression of the styles. These leaves strung or tied together are formed into books. They are enclosed in a wooden cover, sometimes gilded and lackered, so as to make neat and handsome appearance. On these leaves also they write their letters, which they fold up, but the original practice of the country did not require them to be sealed. ‘The original Acts of the Council of Basil 900 years since, with the Bulla or leaden affix, which has a silken cord passing through every parchment,’ is mentioned in the above words by Evelyn as existing in his time at Cambridge, and which would appear to be the same form as that in which the Malabar MSS are preserved.7
In Norway and Sweden they formerly wrote, or rather engraved, on flakes and planks. They wrote on wooden tablets. Poetry was inscribed on staves. A verse is therefore still called a stave.8
The mode of writing or engraving on leaves was probably at one period extended all over India. It is mentioned by Abdulrizack who travelled in 1442, as the common practice at Bisnaghur.9
There is no difficulty in multiplying schools at present in India to any extent provided funds are furnished. The people are anxious and earnest in calling upon the Missionaries for teachers. With a little patience, we may introduce into these schools any books that we please. In them the children know of no precedence, but that which is derived from merit.10 This is an extraordinary testimony in favour of the native character, and from a source where we can expect no kindly prejudice. They entertain no suspicion of the ultimate designs of their instructors; but with candour and openness send their children to school, where we are elsewhere informed, no difficulty was found in introducing the scriptures, when done with discretion.11 They sacrifice all the feelings of wealth, family pride and caste that their children may have the advantages of a good education. This desire is strongly impressed on the minds of all the Hindoos. It is inculcated by their own system, which provided schools in every village. The learned and the ignorant, one of the Missionaries writes from Chinsuram, congratulate one another, that their children now enjoy the great blessings of education. Native free schools were once universal throughout India.
It has been long the practice in Malabar to translate the Sanscrite writings into the common tongue, and to transcribe them in the vernacular character. By this means knowledge has been more generally diffused among the inhabitants; it is less confined to any order or class, and the people are better acquainted with the mysteries and dogmas of their religion. This spirit of enquiry and of liberty has most probably been affected by the sooders who compose the great body of population, and who were in possession of the principal authority and property in the country.
The Malabars have a mode of writing peculiar to themselves: it may be called with more propriety engraving. The letters are imprinted on a palm leaf dried and prepared by a particular process. Instead of a pen, they make use of an iron instrument with a sharp point resembling the stylus of the ancients. When they write on paper, they have recourse to the pen; but this is only in imitation of our manners or of the Mohammedans. Stones, skins, leaves, and the bark of trees, were the earliest materials made use of in writing. These leaves are not subject to decay, and resist vermin. They may be preserved a long time, much longer perhaps than paper; they write in general only on one side and from left to right. They cut the leaves into different sizes, and manufacture them of different qualities, which may be compared to different sorts of paper. They are made to answer either for books, notes or letters. They are formed into neat and convenient sized volumes not by stitching or binding but by stringing them together. A blank space is left at the end like our margin, through this a hole is made which admits a string or cord, generally of silk, and this drawn tight, or tied round them keeps the whole secure. The leaves are opened and unfolded by the Natives with the same facility as we do those of our books. The Malabar books are bound or covered by two pieces of wood which serve as boards, and which are varnished and painted according to taste.
In Malabar in short, the original practice was to use neither pens, ink, nor paper. The leaf of the palm, smoked and dried served the purpose of paper. They engraved on this with a pointed iron resembling that with which the ancients inscribed letters on wax, and with a quickness and facility equal to our fastest writers. (Omitted here)
The following contains a list of books which are to be found in Malabar: many were lost or destroyed during the disturbances under the Mohammedan Government, but the whole are still said to be existing in Travancore. This probably comprises the greatest part of Malabar literature. About 30 or 40 of these works have been transferred from the Sanscrit into the common tongue. Many of the Sanscrit words are allowed to remain in the translations and the affinity of the languages permits this liberty.
In the notes to the Lusiad mention is made of a Malabar work which is probably contained in No.181 of the bibliography; it may have been written by some Secretary and is perhaps at present suppressed or concealed.
‘There is extant in India the writings of a Malabar poet, who wrote nine hundred epigrames, each consisting of eight verses, in ridicule of the worship of the Bramans, whom he treats with great asperity and contempt. Would any of our diligent enquirers after oriental learning favour us with an authentic account of the works of this poet of Malabar, he would undoubtedly confer a singular favour on the republic of letters.’12
The author was probably a Deist: this is the secret profession of many Bramans, who are often at no pains to conceal their sentiments, and express openly their entire disbelief in all the Hindoo deities. I have been acquainted intimately with several Bramans who entertained these opinions, and who avowed their belief in one God only, the supreme being, the Creator of all. Reformers have appeared at different times in India, and the Vedantic sect in particular put no faith in the popular superstition.
The Malabars have a number of dramas or naticas and are fond of theatrical exhibitions.
I have been present at these exhibitions. The theatre is either in the open air, or under a slight temporary covering;13 but sometimes large enough to contain several thousand spectators. On these occasions, they have regular rows of forms and benches, on which the audience seat themselves. The men and women are intermixed as in our play houses. This is an amiable and remarkable contrast with the manners and jealous reserve of other parts of India. I have seen probably two thousand men and women assembled and sitting close together to witness one of these exhibitions. This, however, was on a great occasion of the marriage of a Raja’s daughter. There was a very large pendall erected, with rows of seats one above another, for the accommodation of the audience. The dramatist personae were gods, goddesses, kings, heroes and their attendants. The actors were dressed, suitably as they imagined to the characters they represented, but there was no machinery employed. The whole of the scenery consisted of a sheet or a calampoe, which formed a curtain.
The subject of the piece seemed to be the embarrassment of a Raja who was married to two wives. They tormented him with their quarrels and jealousies. He prayed to the Gods for relief. His prayers were heard, and he received a charm which enabled him to put whichever of the ladies he chose asleep. He was delighted with the remedy and looked forward for nothing in future but happiness. On a trial however he was disappointed. The waking wife was as suspicious as ever, and was continually upbraiding him for his partiality to her rival. He throws them by turns asleep, but has no relief. Each as she awoke was still jealous of the other. I have forgotten how it ended, but the account of this marriage was published in the newspapers of the time in India, about 1793. I cannot at present lay my hands on the account of this wedding which afterwards was transferred to some of the periodical publications at home. The object I think was to inculcate that one wife was preferable to two.
1. Bell and Lancaster System.
2. This is done in our infant schools.
3. They have small boards of the size and shape of our plates covered with sand or chalk.
4. Letters, Peter Della Valle, p.100.
5. The Missionary Register for January, 1879.
7. Evelyn VI, p.277.
8. Edinburg Review, No.67.
9. See p.518.
10. Missionary Register for January 1822.
12. Lusiad, Book 8, p.300
Extracts From William Adam’s State of Education in Bengal 1835-38
W. ADAM ON INDIGENOUS ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
By this description are meant those schools in which instruction in the elements of knowledge is communicated, and which have been originated and are supported by the natives themselves, in contra-distinction from those that are supported by religious or philanthropic societies. The number of such schools in Bengal is supposed to be very great. A distinguished member of the General Committee of Public Instruction in a minute on the subject expressed the opinion, that if one rupee per mensem were expended on each existing village school in the Lower Provinces, the amount would probably fall little short of 12 lakhs of rupees per annum. This supposes that there are 100,000 such schools in Bengal and Bihar, and assuming the population of those two Provinces to be 40,000,000 there would be a village school for every 400 persons. There are no data in this country known to me by which to determine out of this number the proportion of school-going children, or of children capable of going to school, or of children of the age at which, according to the custom of the country, it is usual to go to school. In Prussia (See Cousin’s Report on the State of Public Instruction in Prussia, p.140) it has been ascertained by actual census that in a population of 12,256,725 there were 4,487,461 children under fourteen years of age; which gives 366 children for every 1,000 inhabitants, or about eleven-thirtieths of the nation. Of this entire population of children it is calculated that three-sevenths are of an age to go to school, admitting education in the schools to begin at the age of seven years complete, and there is thus in the entire Prussian monarchy the number of 1,923,200 children capable of receiving the benefits of education. These proportions will not strictly apply to the juvenile population of this country because the usual age for going to school is from five to six, and the usual age for leaving school is from ten to twelve instead of fourteen. There are thus two sources of discrepancy. The school-going age is shorter in India than in Prussia, which must have the effect of diminishing the total number of school-going children; while on the other hand, that diminished number is not exposed to the causes of mortality to which the total school-going population of Prussia is liable from the age of twelve to fourteen. In want of more precise data, let us suppose that these two contrary discrepancies balance each other, and we shall then be at liberty to apply the Prussian proportions to this country. Taking, therefore, eleven-thirtieths of the above-mentioned 400 persons, and three-sevenths of the result, it will follow that in Bengal and Bihar there is on an average a village school for every sixty-three children of the school-going age. These children, however, include girls as well as boys, and as there are no indigenous girls’ schools, if we take the male and female children to be in equal or nearly equal proportions, there will appear to be an indigenous elementary school for every thirty-one or thirty-two boys. The estimate of 100,000 such schools in Bengal and Bihar is confirmed by a consideration of the number of villages in those two Provinces. Their number has been officially estimated at 150,748 of which, not all, but most have each a school. If it be admitted that there is so large a proportion as a third of the villages that have no schools, there will still be 100,000 that have them. Let it be admitted that these calculations from uncertain premises are only distant approximations to the truth, and it will still appear that the system of village schools is extensively prevalent; that the desire to give education to their male children must be deeply seated in the minds of parents even of the humblest classes; and that these are the institutions, closely interwoven as they are with the habits of the people and the customs of the country, through which primarily, although not exclusively, we may hope to improve the morals and intellect of the native population.
It is not, however, in the present state of these schools, that they can be regarded as valuable instruments for this purpose. The benefits resulting from them are but small, owing partly to the incompetency of the instructors, and partly to the early age at which through the poverty of the parents the children are removed. The education of Bengalee children, as has been just stated, generally commences when they are five or six years old and terminates in five years, before the mind can be fully awakened to a sense of the advantages of knowledge or the reason sufficiently matured to acquire it. The teachers depend entirely upon their scholars for subsistence, and being little respected and poorly rewarded, there is no encouragement for persons of character, talent or learning to engage in the occupation. These schools are generally held in the houses of some of the most respectable native inhabitants or very near them. All the children of the family are educated in the vernacular language of the country; and in order to increase the emoluments of the teachers, they are allowed to introduce, as pupils, as many respectable children as they can procure in the neighbourhood. The scholars begin with tracing the vowels and consonants with the finger on a sand-board and afterwards on the floor with a pencil of steatite or white crayon; and this exercise is continued for eight or ten days. They are next instructed to write on the palm-leaf with a reed-pen held in the fist not with the fingers, and with ink made of charcoal which rubs out, joining vowels to the consonants, forming compound letters, syllables, and words, and learning tables of numeration, money, weight, and measure, and the correct mode of writing the distinctive names of persons, castes, and places. This is continued about a year. The iron style is now used only by the teacher in sketching on the palm-leaf the letters which the scholars are required to trace with ink. They are next advanced to the study of arithmetic and the use of the plantain-leaf in writing with ink made of lamp-black, which is continued about six months, during which they are taught addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and the simplest cases of mensuration of land and commercial and agricultural accounts, together with the modes of address proper in writing letters to different persons. The last stage of this limited course of instruction is that in which the scholars are taught to write with lamp-black ink on paper, and are further instructed in agricultural and commercial accounts and in the composition of letters. In country places the rules of arithmetic are principally applied to agricultural and in towns to commercial accounts; but in both town and country schools the instruction is superficial and defective. It may be safely affirmed that in no instance whatever is the orthography of the language of the country acquired in those schools, for although in some of them two or three of the more advanced boys write out small portions of the most popular poetical compositions of the country, yet the manuscript copy itself is so inaccurate that they only become confirmed in a most vitiated manner of spelling, which the imperfect qualifications of the teacher do not enable him to correct. The scholars are entirely without instruction, both literary and oral, regarding the personal virtues and domestic and social duties. The teacher, in virtue of his character, or in the way of advice or reproof, exercises no moral influence on the character of his pupils. For the sake of pay he performs menial service in the spirit of a menial. On the other hand, there is no text or school-book used containing any moral truths or liberal knowledge, so that education being limited entirely to accounts, tends rather to narrow the mind and confine its attention to sordid gain, than to improve the heart and enlarge the understanding. This description applies, as far as I at present know, to all indigenous elementary schools throughout Bengal.
ELEMENTARY BENGALI SCHOOLS (pp.137-146)
It is expressly prescribed by the authorities of Hindu law that children should be initiated in writing and reading in their fifth year; or, if this should have been neglected, then in the seventh, ninth, or any subsequent year, being an odd number. Certain months of the year, and certain days of the month and week, are also prescribed as propitious to such a purpose; and on the day fixed, a religious service is performed in the family by the family-priest, consisting principally of the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, after which the hand of the child is guided by the priest to form the letters of the alphabet, and he is also then taught, for the first time, to pronounce them. This ceremony is not of indispensable obligation on Hindus, and is performed only by those parents who possess the means and intention of giving their children more extended instruction. It is strictly the commencement of the child’s school education, and in some parts of the country he is almost immediately sent to school; but in this district [Rajshahy] I do not find that there is any determinate age for that purpose. It seems to be generally regulated by means and opportunities of the parent and by the disposition and capacity of the child; and as there is a specified routine of instruction, the age of leaving school must depend upon the age of commencement.
The Bengali schools in Nattore are ten in number, containing 167 scholars, who enter school at an age varying from five to ten years, and leave it at an age varying from ten to sixteen. The whole period spent at school also varies, according to the statements of the different teachers from five to ten years; two stating that their instructions occupied five years, one six years, three seven years, two eight years, one nine years, and one ten years—an enormous consumption of time especially at the more advanced ages, considering the nature and amount of the instruction communicated.
The teachers consist both of young and middle-aged men, for the most part simple-minded, but poor and ignorant, and, therefore, having recourse to an occupation which is suitable both to their expectations and attainments, and on which they reflect as little honor as they derive emolument from it; they do not understand the importance of the task they have undertaken; they do not appear to have made it even a subject of thought; they do not appreciate the great influence which they might exert over the minds of their pupils; and they consequently neglect the highest duties which their situation would impose, if they were better acquainted with their powers and obligations. At present they produce chiefly a mechanical effect upon the intellect of their pupils which is worked upon and chiseled out, and that in a very rough style, but which remains nearly passive in their hands, and is seldom taught or encouraged to put forth its self-acting and self-judging capacities. As to any moral influence of the teachers over the pupils—any attempt to form the sentiments and habits, and to control and guide the passions and emotions—such a notion never enters into their conceptions, and the formation of the moral character of the young is consequently wholly left to the influence of the casual associations amidst which they are placed, without any endeavour to modify or direct them. Any measures that may be adopted to improve education in this country will be greatly inadequate if they are not directed to increase the attainments of the teachers, and to elevate and extend their views of the duties belonging to their vocation.
The remuneration of the teachers is derived from various sources. Two teachers have their salaries wholly, and another receives his in part, from benevolent individuals who appear to be influenced only by philanthropic motives; a fourth is remunerated solely in the form of fees; and the remaining six are paid by fees and partly by perquisites. There are in general four stages or gradations in the course of instruction indicated by the nature of the materials employed for writing on, viz., the ground, the palm-leaf, the plantain-leaf, and paper; and at the commencement of each stage after the first a higher fee is charged. In one instance the first and second stages are merged into one; in another instance the same fee is charged for the third and fourth: and in a third, the first, second, and third stages are equally charged; but the rule I have stated is observed in a majority of cases, and partially even in those exceptions. Another mode adopted in two instances, of regulating the fees is according to the means of the parents whose children are instructed; a half, a third, or a fourth less being charged to the children of poor than to the children of rich parents in the successive stages of instruction. The perquisites of the teachers vary from four annas to five rupees a month; in the former case consisting of a piece of cloth or other occasional voluntary gift from the parents; and in the latter, or in similar cases, of food alone, or of food, washing, and all personal expenses, together with occasional presents. Those who receive food as a perquisite either live in the house of one of the principal supporters of the school, or visit the houses of the different parents by turns at meal-times. The total income of the teachers from fixed salaries and fluctuating fees and perquisites varies from three rupees eight annas to seven rupees eight annas per month, the average being rather more than five rupees per month.
The school at Dharail (No.34) affords a good specimen of the mode in which a small native community unite to support a school. At that place there are four families of Chaudhuris, the principal persons in the village; but they are not so wealthy as to be able to support a teacher for their children without the cooperation of others. They give the teacher an apartment in which his scholars may meet, one of the outer apartments of their own house in which business is sometimes transacted, and at other times worship performed and strangers entertained. One of those families further pays four annas a month, a second an equal sum, a third eight annas, and a fourth twelve annas, which include the whole of their disbursements on this account, no presents or perquisites of any kind being received from them, and for the sums mentioned their five children receive a Bengali education. The amount thus obtained, however, is not sufficient for the support of the teacher, and he, therefore, receives other scholars belonging to other families—of whom one gives one anna, another gives three annas, and five give each four annas a month, to which they add voluntary presents amounting per month to about four annas, and consisting of vegetable, rice, fish and occasionally a piece of cloth, such as a handkerchief or an upper or under garment. Five boys of Kagbariya, the children of two families, attend the Dharail school, the distance being about a mile, which, in the rainy season, can be travelled only by water. Of the five, two belonging to one family give together two annas, and the three others belonging to the other family give together four annas a month, and thus the whole income of the master is made up. This case shows by what pinched and stinted contributions the class just below the wealthy and the class just above the indigent unite to support a school; and it constitutes a proof of the very limited means of those who are anxious to give a Bengali education to their children, and of the sacrifices which they make to accomplish that object.
I have spoken of the emoluments of the teachers as low; but I would be understood to mean that they are low, not in comparison with their qualifications, or with the general rates of similar labour in the district, but with those emoluments to which competent men might be justly considered entitled. The humble character of the men, and the humble character of the service they render, may be judged from the fact already stated, that some of them go about from house to house to receive their daily food. All, however, should not be estimated by this standard; and perhaps a generally correct opinion of their relative position in society may be formed by comparing them with those persons who have nearly similar duties to perform in other occupations of life, or whose duties the teachers of the common schools could probably in most instances perform if they were called on to do so. Such, for instance, are the Patwari, the Amin, the Shumarnavis, and the Khamarnavis employed on a native estate. The Patwari, who goes from house to house, and collects the zemindar’s rents, gets from his employer a salary of two rupees eight annas, or three rupees a month, to which may be added numerous presents from the ryots of the first productions of the season, amounting probably to eight annas a month. The Amin, who on behalf of the zemindar decides the disputes that take place among the villagers and measures their grounds, gets from three rupees eight annas to four rupees a month. The Shumarnavis, who keeps accounts of the collection of rents by the different Patwaris, receives about five rupees a month. And the Khamarnavis, who is employed to ascertain the state and value of the crops on which the zemindar has claims in kind, receives the same allowance. Persons bearing these designations and discharging these duties sometimes receive higher salaries; but the cases I have supposed are those with which that of the common native school-master may be considered as on a level, he being supposed capable of undertaking their duties, and they of undertaking his. The holders of these offices on a native estate have opportunities of making unauthorised gains, and they enjoy a respectability and influence which the native school-master does not possess; but in other respects they are nearly on an equality; and, to compensate for those disadvantages, the salary of the common school-master is in general rather higher, none of those whom I met in Nattore receiving in all less than three rupees eight annas, and some receiving as high as seven rupees eight annas a month.
There are no school-houses built for, and exclusively appropriated to, these schools. The apartments or building in which the scholars assemble would have been erected, and would continue to be applied to other purposes, if there were no schools. Some meet in the Chandi Mandap, which is of the nature of a chapel belonging to one of the principal families in the village, and in which, besides the performance of religious worship on occasion of the great annual festivals, strangers also are sometimes lodged and entertained, and business transacted; others in the Baithakkhana, an open hut principally intended as a place of recreation and of concourse for the consideration of any matters relating to the general interests of the village; others in the private dwelling of the chief supporter of the school, and others have no special place of meeting, unless it be the most vacant and protected spot in the neighbourhood of the master’s abode. The school (a) in the village numbered 4 meets in the open air in the dry seasons of the year; and in the rainy season those boys whose parents can afford it erect each for himself a small shed of grass and leaves, open at the sides and barely adequate at the top to cover one person from the rain. There were five or six such sheds among 30 or 40 boys; and those who had no protection, if it rained, must either have been dispersed or remained exposed to the storm. It is evident that the general efficiency and regularity of school-business, which are promoted by the adaptation of the school-room to the enjoyment of comfort by the scholars, to full inspection on the part of the teacher, and to easy communication on all sides, must here be in a great measure unknown.
Respecting the nature and amount of the instruction received, the first fact to be mentioned is that the use of printed books in the native language appears hitherto to have been almost wholly unknown to the natives of this district, with the exception of a printed almanac which some official or wealthy native may have procured from Calcutta; or a stray missionary tract which may have found its way across the great river from the neighbouring district of Moorshedabad. A single case of each kind came under observation; but as far as I could ascertain, not one of the school-masters had ever before seen a printed book, those which I presented to them from the Calcutta School-Book Society being viewed more as curiosities than as instruments of knowledge. That Society has now established an agency for the sale of it publications at Bauleah, hence works of instruction will probably in time spread over the district.
Not only are the printed books not used in these schools, but even manuscript text-books, are unknown. All that the scholars learn is from the oral dictation of the master; and although what is so communicated must have a firm seat in the memory of the teacher, and will probably find an equally firm seat in the memory of the scholar, yet instruction conveyed solely by such means must have a very limited scope. The principal written composition which they learn in this way is the Saraswati Bandana, or salutation to the Goddess of Learning, which is committed to memory by frequent repetitions, and is daily recited by the scholars in a body before they leave school all kneeling with their heads bent to the ground, and following a leader or monitor in the pronunciation of the successive lines or couplets. I have before me two versions or forms of this salutation obtained at different places; but they are quite different from each other, although described by the same name, and both are doggrels of the lowest description even amongst Bengali compositions. The only other written composition used in these schools, and that only in the way of oral dictation by the master, consists of a few of the rhyming arithmetical rules of Subhankar, a writer whose name is as familiar in Bengal as that of Cocker in England, without any one knowing who or what he was or when he lived. It may be inferred that he lived, or if not a real personage that the rhymes bearing that name were composed, before the establishment of the British rule in this country, and during the existence of the Mussalman power, for they are full of Hindustani or Persian terms, and contain references to Mahomedan usages without the remotest allusion to English practices or modes of calculation. A recent native editor has deemed it requisite to remedy this defect by a supplement.
It has been already mentioned that there are four different stages in a course of Bengali instruction. The first period seldom exceeds ten days, which are employed in teaching the young scholars to form the letters of the alphabet on the ground with a small stick or slip of bambu. The sand-board is not used in this district, probably to save expense. The second period, extending from two and a half to four years according to the capacity of the scholar, is distinguished by the use of the palm-leaf as the material on which writing is performed. Hitherto the mere form and sound of the letters have been taught without regard to their size and relative proportion; but the master with an iron-style now writes on the palm-leaf letters of a determinate size and in due proportion to each other, and the scholar is required to trace them on the same leaf with a reed-pen and with charcoal-ink which easily rubs out. This process is repeated over and over again on the same leaf until the scholar no longer requires the use of the copy to guide him in the formation of the letters of a fit size and proportion and he is consequently next made to write them on another leaf which has no copy to direct him. He is afterwards exercised in writing and pronouncing the compound consonants, the syllables formed by the junction of vowels with consonants, and the most common names of persons. In other parts of the country, the names of castes, rivers, mountains, etc., are written as well as of persons; but here the names of persons only are employed as a school-exercise. The scholar is then taught to write and read, and by frequent repetition he commits to memory the Cowrie Table, the Numeration Table as far as 100, the Katha Table (a land-measure table), and the Ser Table (a dry-measure table). There are other tables in use elsewhere which are not taught in the schools of this district. The third stage of instruction extends from two to three years which are employed in writing on the plantain-leaf. In some districts the tables just mentioned are postponed to this stage, but in this district they are included in the exercises of the second stage. The first exercise taught on the plantain-leaf is to initiate the scholar into the simplest forms of letter writing, to instruct him to connect words in composition with each other, and to distinguish the written from the spoken forms of Bengali vocables. The written forms are often abbreviated in speech by the omission of a vowel or a consonant, or by the running of two syllables into one, and the scholar is taught to use in writing the full not the abbreviated forms. The correct orthography of words of Sanscrit origin which abound in the language of the people, is beyond the reach of the ordinary class of teachers. About the same time the scholar is taught the rules of arithmetic, beginning with addition and subtraction, but multiplication and division are not taught as separate rules—all the arithmetical processes hereafter mentioned being effected by addition and subtraction with the aid of a multiplication table which extends to the number 20, and which is repeated aloud once every morning by the whole school and is thus acquired not as a separate task by each boy, but by the mere force of joint repetition and mutual imitation. After addition and subtraction, the arithmetical rules taught divide themselves into two classes, agricultural and commercial, in one or both of which instruction is given more or less fully according to the capacity of the teacher and the wishes of the parents. The rules applied to agricultural accounts explain the forms of keeping debit and credit accounts; the calculation of the value of daily or monthly labour at a given monthly or annual rate; the calculation of the area of land whose sides measure a given number of kathas or bigas; the description of the boundaries of land and the determination of its length, breadth, and contents; and the form of revenue accounts for a given quantity of land. There are numerous other forms of agricultural accounts, but no others appear to be taught in the schools of this district. The rules of commercial accounts explain the mode of calculating the value of a given number of sers at a given price per maund; the price of a given number of quarters and chataks at a given price per ser; the price of a tola at a given rate per chatak; the number of cowries in a given number of annas at a given number of cowries per rupee; the interest of money; and the discount chargeable on the exchange of the inferior sorts of rupees. There are other forms of commercial account also in common use, but they are not taught in the schools. The fourth and last stage of instruction generally includes a period of two years, often less and seldom more. The accounts briefly and superficially taught in the preceding stage are now taught more thoroughly and at a greater length, and this is accompanied by the composition of business letters, petitions, grants, leases, acceptances, notes of hand, etc., together with the forms of address belonging to the different grades of rank and station. When the scholars have written on paper about a year, they are considered qualified to engage in the unassisted perusal of Bengali works, and they often read at home productions as the translation of the Ramayana, Manasa Mangal, etc., etc.
This sketch of a course of Bengali instruction must be regarded rather as what it is intended to be than what it is, for most of the school-masters whom I have seen, as far as I could judge from necessarily brief and limited opportunities of observation, were unqualified to give all the instruction here described, although I have thus placed the amount of their pretensions on record. All, however, do not even pretend to teach the whole of what is here enumerated; some, as will be seen from Table II, professing to limit themselves to agricultural, and others to include commercial accounts. The most of them appeared to have a very superficial acquaintance with both.With the exception of the Multiplication Table, the rhyming arithmetical rules of Subhankar, and the form of address to Saraswati, all which the younger scholars learn by mere imitation of sounds incessantly repeated by the elder boys, without for a long time understanding what those sounds convey—with these exceptions, native school-boys learn everything that they do learn not merely by reading but by writing it. They read to the master or to one of the oldest scholars what they have previously written, and thus the hand, the eye, and the ear are equally called into requisition. This appears preferable to the mode of early instruction current amongst ourselves, according to which the elements of language are first taught only with the aid of the eye and the ear, and writing is left to be subsequently acquired. It would thus appear also that the statement which represents the native system as teaching chiefly by the ear, to the neglect of eye, is founded on a misapprehension, for how can the aid of the eye be said to be neglected when with the exceptions above-mentioned, nothing appears to be learned which is not rendered palpable to the sense by the act of writing? It is almost unnecessary to add that the use of monitors or leaders has long prevailed in the common schools of India, and is well known in those of Bengali.
The disadvantages arising from the want of school-houses and from the confined and inappropriate construction of the buildings or apartments used as school-rooms have already been mentioned. Poverty still more than ignorance leads to the adoption of modes of instruction and economical arrangements which, under more favourable circumstances, would be readily abandoned. In the matter of instruction there are some grounds for commendation for the course I have described has a direct practical tendency; and, if it were taught in all its parts, is well adapted to qualify the scholar for engaging in the actual business of native society. My recollections of the village schools of Scotland do not enable me to pronounce that the instruction given in them has a more direct bearing upon the daily interests of life than that which I find given, or professed to be given, in the humbler village schools of Bengal.
ELEMENTARY PERSIAN SCHOOLS: (pp.148-153)
The Persian schools in Nattore are four in number, containing twenty-three scholars, who enter school at any age varying from four and a half to thirteen years, and leave it at an age varying from twelve to seventeen. The whole time stated to be spent at school varies from four to eight years. The teachers intellectually are of a higher grade than the teachers of Bengali schools, although that grade is not high compared with what is to be desired and is attainable. Morally, they appear to have as little notion as Bengali teachers of the salutary influence they might exercise on the dispositions and characters of their pupils. They have no fees from the scholars and are paid in the form of fixed monthly allowances with perquisites. The monthly allowances vary from one rupee eight annas to four rupees, and they are paid by one, two or three families, who are the principal supporters of the school. The perquisites, which are estimated at two rupees eight annas to six rupees a month, and consist of food, washing, and other personal expenses, are provided either by the same parties or by those parents who do not contribute to the monthly allowance. The total remuneration of a teacher varies from four to ten rupees per month, averaging about seven rupees. The principal object of the patrons of these schools is the instruction of their own children; but in one instance a worthy old Mussalman, who has no children, contributes a small monthly allowance, without which the teacher would not have sufficient inducement to continue his labours; and in another case besides two children of the family, ten other boys are admitted, on whom instruction, food, and clothing, are gratuitously bestowed. Two of the schools have separate school-houses, which were built by the benevolent patrons who principally support them. The scholars of the other two assemble in out-buildings belonging to one or other of the families whose children receive instruction.
Although in the Persian schools printed books are unknown, yet manuscript works are in constant use. The general course of instruction has no very marked stages or gradations into which it is divided. Like the Hindus, however, the Mussalmans formally initiate their children into the study of letters. When a child, whether a boy or a girl, is four years, four months, and four days old, the friends of the family assemble, and the child is dressed in his best clothes, brought in to the company, and seated on a cushion in the presence of all. The alphabet, the form of letters used for computation, the introduction to the Koran, some verses of Chapter LV, and the whole of Chapter LXXXVII, are placed before him, and he is taught to pronounce them in succession. If the child is self-willed, and refuses to read, he is made to pronounce the Bismillah, which answers every purpose, and from that day his education is deemed to have commenced. At school he is taught the alphabet, as with ourselves, by the eye and ear, the forms of the letters being presented to him in writing and their names pronounced in his hearing, which he is required to repeat until he is able to connect the names and the forms with each other in his mind. The scholar is afterwards made to read the thirteenth section of the Koran, the chapters of which are short, and are generally used at the times of prayer and in the burial service. The words are marked with the diacritical points in order that the knowledge of letters, their junction and correct orthography and their pronunciation from the appropriate organs may be thoroughly acquired; but the sense is entirely unknown. The next book put into his hands is the Pandanameh of Sadi, a collection of moral sayings, many of which are above his comprehension, but he is not taught or required to understand any of them. The work is solely used for the purpose of instructing him in the art of reading and of forming a correct pronunciation, without any regard to the sense of the words pronounced. It is generally after this that the scholar is taught to write the letters, to join vowels and consonants, and to form syllables. The next book is the Amadnameh, exhibiting the forms of conjugating the Persian verbs which are read to the master and by frequent repetition committed to memory. The first book which is read for the purpose of being understood is the Gulistan of Sadi, containing lessons on life and manners and this followed or accompanied by the Bostan of the same author. Two or three sections of each are read; and simultaneously short Persian sentences relating to going and coming, sitting and standing, and the common affairs of life, are read and explained. The pupil is afterwards made to write Persian names, then Arabic names and next Hindi names, especially such as contain letters to the writing or pronunciation of which difficulty is supposed to attach. Elegant penmanship is considered a great accomplishment, and those who devote themselves to this art employ from three to six hours every day in the exercise of it, writing first single letters, then double or treble, then couplets, quatrains, etc. They first write upon a board with a thick pen, then with a finer pen on pieces of paper pasted together; and last of all, when they have acquired considerable command of the pen, they begin to write upon paper in single fold. This is accompanied or followed by the perusal of some of the most popular poetical productions such as Joseph and Zuleikha, founded on a well-known incident in Hebrew history; the loves of Leila and Majnun; the Secundar Nameh an account of the exploits of Alexander the Great, etc., etc. The mode of computing by the Abjad, or letters of the alphabet, is also taught, and is of two sorts; in the first, the letters of the alphabet in the order of the Abjad being taken to denote units, tens, and hundreds to a thousand; and in the second the letters composing the names of the letters of the alphabet being employed for the same purpose. Arithmetic, by means of the Arabic numerals, and instruction at great length in the different styles of address, and in the forms of correspondence, petitions, etc., etc., complete a course of Persian instruction. But in the Persian schools of this district, this course is very superficially taught, and some of the teachers do not even profess to carry their pupils beyond the Gulistan and Bostan.
In a Persian school, after the years of mere childhood, when the pupils are assumed to be capable of stricter application, the hours of study with interval extend from six in the morning to nine at night. In the first place in the morning they revise the lessons of the previous day, after which a new lesson is read, committed to memory, and reported to the master. About mid-day they have leave of absence for an hour when they dine, and on their return to school they are instructed in writing. About three o’clock they have another reading lesson which is also committed to memory, and about an hour before the close of day they have leave to play. The practice with regard to the forenoon and afternoon lessons in reading, is to join the perusal of a work in prose with that of a work in verse; as the Gulistan with the Bostan and Abdulfazl’s letters with the Secundar Nameh, the forenoon lesson being taken from one and the afternoon lesson from the other. In the evening they repeat the lessons of that day several times, until they have them perfectly at command; and, after making some preparation for the lessons of the next day, they have leave to retire. Thursday every week is devoted to the revision of old lessons; and when that is completed, the pupils seek instruction or amusement according to their own pleasure in the perusal of forms of prayer and stanzas of poetry, and are dismissed on that day at three o’clock without any new lesson. On Friday, the sacred day of Mussalmans, there is no schooling. In other districts in respectable or wealthy Mussalman families, besides the literary instructor called Miyan or Akhun, there is also a domestic tutor or Censor Morum called Atalik, a kind of head-servant whose duty it is to train the children of the family to good manners, and to see that they do not neglect any duty assigned to them; but I do not find any trace of this practice in Rajshahi.
Upon the whole the course of Persian instruction, even in its less perfect forms such as are found to exist in this district, has a more comprehensive character and a more liberal tendency than pursued in the Bengali schools. The systematic use of books although in manuscript is a great step in advance, accustoming the minds of the pupils to forms of regular composition, to correct and elegant language, and to trains of consecutive thought, and thus aiding both to stimulate the intellect and to form the taste. It might be supposed that the moral bearing of some of the text books would have a beneficial effect on the character of the pupils; but as far as I have been able to observe or ascertain, those books are employed like all the rest solely for the purpose of conveying lessons in language—lessons in the knowledge of sounds and words in the construction of sentences, or in anecdotal information, but not for the purpose of sharpening the moral perceptions or strengthening the moral habits. This in general native estimation does not belong to the business of instruction, and it never appears to be thought of or attempted. Others will judge from their own observation and experience whether the Mussalman character, as we see it in India, has been formed or influenced by such a course of instruction. The result of my own observations is that of two classes of persons, one exclusively educated in Mahomedan, and the other in Hindu literature; the former appears to me to possess an intellectual superiority, but the moral superiority does not seem to exist.
ELEMENTARY ARABIC SCHOOLS: (pp.152-153)
The Arabic schools, or schools for instruction in the formal or ceremonial reading of certain passages of the Koran, are eleven in number, and contain 42 scholars, who begin to read at an age varying from 7 to 14, and leave school at an age varying from 8 to 18. The whole time stated to be spent at school varies from one to five years. The teachers possess the lowest degree of attainment to which it is possible to assign the task of instruction. They do not pretend to be able even to sign their names; and they disclaim altogether the ability to understand that which they read and teach. The mere forms, names, and sounds, of certain letters and combinations of letters they know and teach, and what they teach is all that they know of written language, without presuming, or pretending, or aiming to elicit the feeblest glimmering of meaning from these empty vocables. This whole class of schools is as consummate a burlesque upon mere forms of instruction, separate from a rational meaning and purpose, as can well be imagined. The teachers are all Kath-Mollas, that is, the lowest grade of Mussalman priests who chiefly derive their support from the ignorance and superstition of the poor classes of their co-religionists; and the scholars are in training for the same office. The portion of the Koran which is taught is that which begins with Chapter LXXVIII of Sale’s Koran, and extends to the close of the volume. The Mollas, besides teaching a few pupils the formal reading of this portion of the Koran, perform the marriage ceremony, for which they are paid from one to eight annas according to the means of the party; and also the funeral service with prayers for the dead continued from one to forty days, for which they get from two annas to one rupee, and it is in these services that the formal reading of the Koran is deemed essential. The Mollas also often perform the office of the village butcher, killing animals for food with the usual religious forms, without which their flesh cannot be eaten by Mussalmans; but for this they take no remuneration. In several cases, the teacher of the school depends for his livelihood on employment at marriages and burials, giving his instructions as a teacher gratuitously. In one instance a fixed allowance is received from the patron of the school, fees from some of the scholars, and perquisites besides, amounting in all to four rupees eight annas per month, and in this case the patron professes the intention to have the scholars hereafter taught Persian and Bengali. In another the patron merely lodges, feeds and clothes, the teacher who receives neither fixed allowance nor fees. In three instances the only remuneration the teacher receives is a salami or present of five or six rupees, from each scholar when he finally leaves school. In two instances the teachers have small farms from which they derive the means of subsistence in addition to their gains as Mollas. They give instruction either in their own houses, or in school-houses, which are also applied to the purposes of prayer and hospitality and of assembly on occasions of general interest.
No institutions can be more insignificant and useless, and in every respect less worthy of notice, than these Arabic schools, viewed as places of instruction; but, however worthless in themselves, they have a certain hold on the Native mind, which is proved by the increased respect and emoluments as Mollas, expected and acquired by some of the teachers on account of the instruction they give; the expense incurred by others of them in erecting school-houses; and by the general employment by the Mussalman population of those who receive and communicate the slender education which these schools bestow. In the eye of the philanthropist or the statesman no institution however humble, will be overlooked, by which he may hope beneficially to influence the condition of any portion of mankind; and it is just in proportion to the gross ignorance of the multitude that he will look with anxiety for any loop-holes by which he may find an entrance to their understandings—some institutions, which are held by them in veneration and which have hitherto served the cause of ignorance, but which he may hope with discretion to turn to the service of knowledge. I do not despair that means might be employed, simple, cheap, and inoffensive, by which even the teachers of these schools might be reared to qualify themselves for communicating a much higher grade of instruction to a much greater number of learners without divesting them of any portion of the respect and attachment of which they are now the objects.
W. ADAM ON INDIGENOUS SCHOOLS OF LEARNING
Ward in his work on the Hindoos has given, on the whole, a correct account of the state of indigenous learning and of the institutions by which it is preserved among the Hindoos. The principle which secures the perpetuation of these institutions, as long as the Hindoo religion subsists and is professed by the mass of the people and by a majority of the wealthy and powerful, is that it is deemed an act of religious merit to acquire a knowledge of the Hindoo shastras, or to extend the knowledge of them either by direct instruction or by pecuniary support or assistance given either to scholars or teachers. Hence the privations to which the students submit in the prosecution of the prescribed course of study; the disinterestedness of the teachers in bestowing their instructions gratuitously with the addition, always of shelter, often of food, and sometimes of clothing; and the liberality of landholders and others shown by occasional endowments of land and frequent gifts of money both to teachers and scholars on the occasion of funeral feasts, weddings, dedications, etc. The number of such institutions throughout the country is unknown nor are sufficient data possessed on which to rest a probable conjecture. In the district of Dinajpur, Dr Buchanan found only 16, and in that of Purniya not less than 119—a difference between two neighbouring districts in which some mistake may be suspected. The estimates of the number in other districts, besides those reported on by Dr Buchanan, are not the results of personal inquiries, and less dependence is, therefore, to be placed on them. If I were to hazard a conjecture founded on all the facts and statements I have met with, I should say that there are on an average probably 100 such institutions in each district of Bengal, which would give 1,800 for the whole province. An estimate of the total number of students must depend upon the approach to correctness of the conjecture respecting the total number of schools; but the following facts may help towards the formation of a correct opinion respecting the average number of students in each school. In 1818, Mr Ward enumerated 28 schools of Hindoo learning in Calcutta, in which 173 scholars received instructions, averaging upwards of six scholars to each school. He also enumerated 31 schools of Hindoo learning at Nuddea, in which 747 scholars received instruction, averaging upwards of 24 scholars to each school. In 1830, Mr H.H. Wilson ascertained by personal inquiry at Nuddea, that there were then about 25 schools in which between 5 and 600 scholars received instruction, and taking the number of scholars at 550 the average to each school will be 22. The average of these three estimates would give 17½ scholars to each school. The lowest or Calcutta average, that of six scholars to each school, I consider more probable than the others, for the instances are numerous throughout the country in which a learned Hindoo teacher has not more than three or four pupils. Assuming the Calcutta average and the previous estimate of the total number of schools, there will appear to be 10,800 students of Hindoo learning throughout Bengal. The total number of teachers and students of Hindoo learning will thus be 12,600; and this number is exclusive of a large class of individuals who, after having received instruction in a school of learning, and become in the technical sense of the term Pundits or learned men, from various causes decline to engage in the profession of teaching. If further inquiry should show that the lowest estimate, which is that I have assumed, is one-half in excess of the truth, there will still remain a large and influential class of men who either have received or are engaged in giving and receiving a Hindoo collegiate education.
The Hindoo colleges or schools in which the higher branches of Hindoo learning are taught are generally built of clay. Sometimes three or five rooms are erected, and in others nine or eleven, with a reading-room which is also of clay. These huts are frequently erected at the expense of the teacher, who not only solicits alms to raise the building, but also to feed his pupils. In some cases rent is paid for the ground; but the ground is commonly, and in particular instances both the ground and the expenses of the building are, a gift. After a school-room and lodging-rooms have been thus built to secure the success of the school, the teacher invites a few Brahmans and respectable inhabitants to an entertainment at the close of which the Brahmans are dismissed with some trifling presents. If the teacher finds a difficulty in obtaining scholars, he begins the college with a few junior relatives, and by instructing them and distinguishing himself in the disputations that take place on public occasions, he establishes his reputation. The school opens early every morning by the teacher and pupils assembling in the open reading-room, when the different classes read in turns. Study is continued till towards mid-day, after which three hours are devoted to bathing, worship, eating and sleep; and at three they resume their studies which are continued till twilight. Nearly two hours are then devoted to evening-worship, eating, smoking and relaxation, and the studies are again resumed and continued till ten or eleven at night. The evening studies consist of a revision of the lessons already learned, in order that what the pupils have read may be impressed more distinctly on the memory. These studies are frequently pursued, especially by the students of logic, till two or three o’clock in the morning.
There are three kinds of colleges in Bengal—one in which chiefly grammar, general literature, and rhetoric, and occasionally the great mythological poems and law are taught; a second, in which chiefly law and sometimes the mythological poems are studied; and third, in which logic is made the principal object of attention. In all these colleges select works are read and their meaning explained; but instruction is not conveyed in the form of lectures. In the first class of colleges, the pupils repeat assigned lessons from the grammar used in each college, and the teacher communicates the meaning of the lessons after they have been committed to memory. In the others the pupils are divided into classes according to their progress. The pupils of each class having one or more books before them seat themselves in the presence of the teacher, when the best reader of the class reads aloud, and the teacher gives the meaning as often as asked, and thus they proceed from day to day till the work is completed. The study of grammar is pursued during two, three, or six years, and where the work of Panini is studied, not less than ten, and sometimes twelve, years are devoted to it. As soon as a student has obtained such a knowledge of grammar as to be able to read and understand a poem, a law book, or a work on philosophy, he may commence this course of reading also, and carry on at the same time the remainder of his grammar-studies. Those who study law or logic continue reading either at one college or another for six, eight, or even ten years. When a person has obtained all the knowledge possessed by one teacher, he makes some respectful excuse to his guide and avails himself of the instructions of another. Mr Ward, from whom many of the preceding details have been copied estimates that ‘amongst one hundred thousand Brahmans, there may be one thousand who learn the grammar of the Sunskritu, of whom four or five hundred may read some parts of the kavyu (or poetical literature), and fifty some parts of the ulunkaru (or rhetorical) shastras. Four hundred of this thousand may read some of the smriti (or law works); but not more than ten any part of the tuntrus (or the mystical and magical treatises of modern Hinduism). Three hundred may study the nyayu (or logic), but only five or six the meemangsu, (explanatory of the ritual of the veds), the sunkhyu (a system of philosophical materialism), the vedantu (illustrative of the spiritual portions of the veds), the patunjulu (a system of philosophical asceticism), the vaisheshika (a system of philosophical anti-materialism), or the veda (the most ancient and sacred writings of Hindoos). Ten persons in this number of Brahmans may become learned in the astronomical shastras, while ten more understand these very imperfectly. Fifty of this thousand may read the shree bhaguvutu, and some of the pooranas.’ At the present day probably the alankar shastras and the tantras are more studied than is here represented. The astronomical works also receive more attention. The colleges are invariably closed and all study suspended on the eighth day of the waxing and waning of the moon; on the day in which it may happen to thunder; whenever a person or an animal passes between the teacher and the pupil while reading; when a honorable person arrives, or a guest; at the festival of Saraswati during three days; in some parts during the whole of the rainy season, or at least during two months which include the Doorga, the Kali, and other festivals, and at many other times. When a student is about to commence the study of law or of logic, his fellow students, with the concurrence and approbation of the teacher, bestow on him an honorary title descriptive of the nature of his pursuit, and always differing from any title enjoyed by any of his learned ancestors. In some parts of the country, the title is bestowed by an assembly of Pundits convened for the purpose; and in others the assembly is held in the presence of a raja or zemindar who may be desirous of encouraging learning and who at the same time bestows a dress of honour on the student and places a mark on his forehead. When the student finally leaves college and enters on the business of life, he is commonly addressed by that title.
The means employed by the Mahomedan population of Bengal to preserve the appropriate learning of their faith and race are less systematic and organised than those adopted by the Hindoos; and to whatever extent they may exist, less enquiry has been made and less information is possessed respecting them. It is believed, however, that in the Lower as well as the Western Provinces, there are many private Mahomedan schools begun and conducted by individuals of studious habits who have made the cultivation of letters the chief occupation of their lives, and by whom the profession of learning is followed, not merely as a means of livelihood, but as a meritorious work productive of moral and religious benefit to themselves and their fellow creatures. Few, accordingly, give instruction for any stipulated pecuniary remuneration, and what they may receive is both tendered and accepted as an interchange of kindness and civility between the master and his disciple. The number of those who thus resort to the private instruction of masters is not great. Their attendance and application are guided by the mutual convenience and inclination of both parties, neither of whom is placed under any system nor particular rule of conduct. The success and progress of the scholar depend entirely on his own assiduity. The least dispute or disagreement puts an end to study, no check being imposed on either party, and no tie subsisting between them beyond that of casual reciprocal advantages which a thousand accidents may weaken or dissolve. The number of pupils seldom exceeds six. They are sometimes permanent residents under the roof of their masters, and in other instances live in their own families; and in the former case, if Mussalmans, they are supported at the teacher’s expense. In return, they are required to carry messages, buy articles in the bazar, and perform menial services in the house. The scholars in consequence often change their teachers, learning the alphabet and the other introductory parts of the Persian language of one, the Pandnameh of a second, the Gulistan of a third, and so on from one place to another, till they are able to write a tolerable letter and think they have learned enough to assume the title of Munshi, when they look out for some permanent means of subsistence as hangers-on at the Company’s Courts. The chief aim is the attainment of such a proficiency in the Persian language as may enable the student to earn a livelihood; but not, unfrequently, the Arabic is also studied, its grammar, literature, theology and law. A proper estimate of such a desultory and capricious mode of education is impossible.
The number of institutions of Hindoo learning, now existing in Calcutta and the Twenty-four Pergunahs, is not accurately known. Mr Ward in his work published in 1818 enumerates 28 schools of Hindoo learning in Calcutta, naming the teacher of each school, the quarter of the city in which the school was situated, and the number of students receiving instruction. These institutions are also mentioned as only some amongst others to be found in Calcutta. The nyaya and smriti shastras chiefly were taught in them; and the total number of scholars belonging to the colleges actually enumerated was 173, of whom not less than three, and not more than fifteen, received the instructions of the same teacher. The enumeration to which I refer is subjoined in Mr Ward’s words:—
‘The following among other colleges are found in Calcutta; and in these the nyaya and smriti shastras are principally taught—
Ununtu-Ramu-Vidya-Vageeshu, of Hati-Bagan, fifteen students—
Ramu-Koomaru-Turkalunkaru, of ditto, eight students—
Ramu-Toshunu-Vidylunkaru, of ditto, eight ditto—
Ramu-Doolalu-Chooramunee, of ditto, five ditto—
Gorru-Munee-Nyayalunkaru, of ditto, four ditto—
Kashee-Nathu-Turka-Vegeeshu, of Ghoshalu-Bagan, six ditto—
Ramu-Shevu-Ku-Vidya-Vegeeshu, of Shikdarer-Bagan, four ditto—
Mrityoon-juyu-Vidyalunkaru, of Bag-Bazar, fifteen ditto—
Ramu-Kishoru-Turku-Chooramunee, of ditto, six ditto—
Ramu-Koomaru-Shiromunee, of ditto, four ditto—
Juyu-Narayunu-Turku-Punchanum, of Talar-Bagan, five ditto—
Shumbhoo-Vachusputee, of ditto, six ditto—
Sivu-Ramu-Nayayu-Vageeshu, of Lal-Bagan, ten ditto—
Gouru-Mohunu-Vidya-Bhooshunu, of ditto, four ditto—
Huree-Prusadu-Turku-Punchanunu, of Hatti-Bagan, four ditto—
Ramu-Narayunu-Turku-Punchanunu, of Shimila, five ditto—
Ramu-Huree-Vidya-Bhooshun, of Huree-Tukee-Bagan, six ditto—
Kumula-Kantu-Vidyalunkaru, of Aru-koolee, six ditto—
Govindu-Turku-Punchanunu, of ditto, five ditto—
Peetamburu-Nayayu-Bhooshunu, of ditto, five ditto—
Parvutee-Turku-Bhooshunu, of T’hunt’-huniya, four ditto—
Kashee-Nathu-Turkalunkaru, of ditto, three ditto—
Ramu-Nathu-Vaschusputee, of Shimila, nine ditto—
Ramu-Tunoo-Turku-Siddhantu, of Mulunga, six ditto—
Ramu-Tunoo-Vidya-Vageeshu, of Sobha-Bazar, five ditto—
Ramu-Koomaru-Turku-Punchanunu, of Veerupara, five ditto—
Kalee-Dasu-Vidya-Vageeshu, of Italee, five ditto—
Ramu-Dhunu-Turku-Vageeshu, of Shimila, five ditto.’
Hamilton states that in 1801 there were within the limits of the Twenty-four Pergunnahs, and as I suppose must be understood beyond the limits of the town of Calcutta, 190 seminaries in which Hindoo law, grammar, and metaphysics were taught. These institutions are stated to have been maintained by the voluntary contributions of opulent Hindoos and the produce of charity lands, the total annual expense being rupees 19,500. No details are given, but it may be inferred, although it is not expressly mentioned, that the statement rests on the authority of official documents. No cause has been in operation in the intermediate period to render it probable that the number of such seminaries within this district has since then been materially diminished. Mr Ward mentions that at Juyunugur and Mujilee Pooru seventeen or eighteen similar schools were found, and at Andoolee ten or twelve, these villages, according to my information, being within the limits of the district; but it is probable that they are included in the more comprehensive enumeration mentioned by Hamilton.
I do not find any account on record of any private institutions for the promotion of Mahomedan learning either in Calcutta or in the surrounding district. Hamilton states that in 1801 there was one and but one, madrasa or college for instruction in Mahomedan law, but he does not mention its particular locality, and it is not improbable that he refers to the institution endowed by Warren Hastings, and now under the superintendence of the General Committee of Public Instruction. There can be no doubt, however, that in this as well as in other districts of Bengal in which he have no authentic account of the state of Mahomedan learning, that loose system of private tuition already described prevails to a greater or less extent.
Hamilton states that in this district there are no schools where the Hindoo or Mahomedan laws are taught. There was formerly a Mahomedan college in the town of Midnapore, and even yet the establishment is said to exist, but no law is taught. Persian and Arabic are taught by maulavis who in general have a few scholars in their houses, whom they support as well as instruct. These Persian and Arabic students, although of respectable families, are considered as living on charity; and they are total strangers to expense and dissipation. The alleged absence of schools of Hindoo learning in a population of which six-seventh are said to be Hindoos is incredible, and denied by learned natives who have resided in the district and are personally acquainted with several schools of that description within its limits. They are not so numerous as the domestic schools of learning which prevail amongst the Mahomedan population; but they are not so few as to be wholly neglected. There are probably, I am told, about 40 in the district. It may be offered as a general remark to account for such incorrect statements, that the greater attention given by Europeans to the Mahomedan than to the Hindoo languages and literature, combined with the unobtrusive and retiring character of learned Hindoos, sometimes leads the public functionary to overlook institutions of Hindoo origin. It is probably from some such official authority that Hamilton has borrowed the statement to which I refer.
Mr Stirling, in the elaborate account of this district, from which the preceding details are abridged, gives no information whatever on the state of education as conducted by natives, either in elementary schools or schools of learning. In the description of the town of Puri Jugunnath, it is stated that ‘the principal street is composed almost entirely of the religious establishments called maths’, a name applied in other parts of the country, both in the west and south, to convents of ascetics in which the various branches of Hindoo learning are taught. It may be inferred that they are applied to the same use in Jugunnath Puri.
The number of Hindoo schools of learning in this district is considerable. Mr Ward in 1818 stated that at Vansvariya, a village not far from the town of Hugly, there were twelve or fourteen colleges, in all of which logic was almost exclusively studied. There were then also seven or eight in the town of Triveni, one of which had been lately taught by Jugannath Tarka Panchanan, supposed to be the most learned as well as the oldest man in Bengal, being 109 years old at the time of his death. He was acquainted in some measure with the veda, and is said to have studied the vedanta, the sankhya, the patanjala, the nyaya, the smriti, the tantra, the kavya, the pooranas and other shastras. Mr Ward also mentions that Gundulpara and Bhudreshwuru contained each about ten nyaya schools, and Valee two or three, all villages in this district. Hamilton states that in 1801 there were altogether about 150 private schools in which the principles of Hindoo law were taught by Pundits, each school containing from five to twenty scholars. There is no reason to suppose that the number of schools is now less, and the enquiries made in 1824 showed that there were some schools with thirty scholars. According to the reputation of the teacher is the number of the students, and in proportion to the number of the students is the number of invitations and the liberality of the gifts which the teacher receives on the occasion of the performance of important religious ceremonies in Hindoo families. The number of students has thus a double pecuniary operation. As they always derive a part of their subsistence from the teacher, they are a burden upon his means; and by the increased reputation which they confer upon him, they enable him to support that burden. Sometimes, however, students capable of living on their own means return home after school hours; and in other instances, the more wealthy inhabitants of the town or village are found to contribute towards the support of poor students whom the teacher cannot maintain. The first three or four years are occupied in the study of Sanscrit grammar and the next six or eight years in the study of law and logic, with which the generality of students finish their education, and are thenceforth classed among learned men, receiving from the teacher when they are leaving him an honorary title which they retain for life.
There are few Mahomedan schools of learning in this district. Omitting reference to that at Hugly, supported by the endowment of Haji Mohammed Moshin, under the orders of the Board of Revenue, and about to be extended and improved under the superintendence of the General Committee of Public Instruction, I find mention made of only one other existing at Seetapore, a populous town, situated 22 miles in the interior of the district. It was originally supported by a grant of five rupees eight annas per diem, made by the English Government in consideration of the faithful services of Umsih-ood-din the founder. After his death, and in consequence of divisions among the surviving members of his family, who it seems had claim to a part of the grant for their maintenance, it was limited to rupees 50 per month, which, as far as my information extends, it continues to derive from government to the present day. According to Hamilton, in 1801, this college had 30 students who were instructed in Persian and Arabic, and according to the report made to the General Committee in 1824, it had 25 students who were taught only Persian. This institution does not appear ever to have come under the supervision of the Committee or of any public officer. The report of 1824 further alleges the existence of certain lands at Pandua in this district, which should be appropriated to the support of madrasas, but which have been diverted from that purpose. It is stated to be a well known fact that grants were made to the ancestors of the late Mola Mir Gholam Hyder Mutawali, attached to the shrine of Shah Suffud-din Khan Shuhid at Pandua, together with Mola Myn-ud-din or Mola Taj-ud-din and Mir Gholam Mustafa, private persons who had no share in the superintendence. The grants are said to have specified certain villages or tracts of land to be exclusively appropriated to the support of three madrasas, in addition to those granted for the personal benefit of the grantees. The madrasas were kept up for a generation or two, but through carelessness or avarice were afterwards discontinued. It is added that there were persons then living so well acquainted with the circumstances as to be able to point out the estates that were specified in the grants for the support of the madrasas. The Collector, in the letter enclosing the report, intimated his intention to investigate the matter, and in the event of the alleged misappropriation being substantiated, to pursue the course directed in Regulation XIX of 1810. The result of the enquiry I have not been able to learn.
Hamilton says that in this district there are no regular schools for instruction in the Hindoo or Mahomedan law, and that the most learned professors of the former are procured from the district of Nuddea on the opposite side of the Hugly. The same remark may be applied to this statement that has already been made with reference to the state of learning in Midnapore. All that can be fairly understood from it is not that there are no native schools of learning in the district, but that there were none known to the writer, or to the public officer on whose authority the author relied. It is exceedingly improbable, from the analogy of other districts, that there are not some of those domestic schools of Mahomedan learning already described, and still more improbable that in a population of which five-sixths are Hindoos, there should not be a still greater number of schools of Hindoo learning.
The following references to institutions of learning in this district were extracted from the proceedings of the Board of Revenue at Calcutta, and first published in the memoir prepared at the India House which I have mentioned as one of my authorities:—
In September, 1818, the Collector of Burdwan was required to report upon a pension of rupees 60 per annum, claimed by Rambullubh Bhattacharjya, for the support of a religious institution and seminary. The Collector deputed his ameen to the spot, to enquire whether the institution on which the pension was claimed was still maintained. The ameen reported that the institution appeared to be kept up, that the number of scholars generally entertained was about five or six, and that the allowance had been sanctioned by the government during the joint lives of Rambullubh Bhattacharjya and his deceased brother. Under these circumstances, the Revenue Board considered the claimant entitled to the full amount of the pension during his life, or as long as he should continue to appropriate it faithfully to the purposes for which it was originally granted. They accordingly authorised the future payment of this pension to Rambullubh Bhattacharjya, and the discharge of all arrears which had accrued subsequently to the decease of the claimant’s brother.
In March, 1819, the Collector of Burdwan applied to the Revenue Board for instructions respecting certain payments to a musjid and madrasa in the district, respecting which a suit had been instituted in the Calcutta Court of Appeal, and the question ordered by that Court to be determined by the Collector under Regulation XIX, of 1810. The establishment in question was in the hands of Musil-ud-deen, who was called upon to produce his accounts, which he appears not to have done satisfactorily. The Collector, therefore, sent his ameen to the place to ascertain to what extent the establishment was kept up. That officer reported favourably of the establishment on the authority of the inhabitants of the village in which the madrasa was situated, but without any documents to corroborate his statements. Under these circumstances, the Revenue Board desired the Collector to take an opportunity of visiting the spot, in order that he might himself ascertain the grounds on which a decision might be come to. Nothing further appears relating to this madrasa.
In July, 1823, the Revenue Board reported an endowment for a College in Burdwan of 254 sicca rupees per annum, which was communicated to the General Committee of Public Instruction.
I have met with no reference to indigenous schools, either elementary or learned, in this district, but it is beyond all question that the number of both amongst Hindoos and Mussalmans is considerable. This district is a perfect and entire blank in as far as information regarding the state of indigenous education is concerned.
The town of Nuddea was the capital of Hindoo principality anterior to the Mahommedan conquest, and in more recent times it has been a seat of Brahmanical learning. Hamilton remarks that, as a seat of learning, it must have apparently declined to a very obscure condition, as in 1801 the Judge and Magistrate, in reply to the Marquis Wellesley’s queries, declared that he knew not of any seminaries within the district in which either the Hindoo or Mahomedan law was then taught. This statement curiously contrasts with the following details, and affords another illustration of a remark already made, that the educational institutions of the Hindoos have sometimes been most strangely overlooked.
The celebrity of Nuddea as a school of Hindoo learning is wholly unconnected with any notion of peculiar sanctity as in the case of Benares. Its character as a university was probably connected with the political importance which belonged to it about the time of the Mahomedan invasion, as it seems to have been for a time the capital of Bengal. The princes of Bengal and the latter rajahs of Nuddea endowed certain teachers with lands for the instruction and maintenance of scholars, and the support thus given to pundits and pupils attracted a number of Brahmans to settle there, and gave a reputation to the district. The loss of all political consequence and the alleged resumption of most of the endowments have very much diminished the attraction of the site, but it still continues a place of learning and extensive repute.
In 1811, Lord Minto, then Governor-General, proposed to establish a Hindoo college at Nuddea and another in Tirhoot, and set apart funds for that purpose. The design, however, was finally abandoned in favour of that of forming a similar institution on a larger scale, the present Sanskrit College in Calcutta. In the course of the correspondence which took place between government and the Committee of Superintendence provisionally appointed for the proposed college at Nuddea, the Committee stated, under date 9th July, 1816, that there were then in Nuddea 46 schools kept and supported by the most learned and respectable pundits of the place, who invariably taught at their houses or in the tols attached to them, where the pupils were all lodged partly at their own expense and partly at the expense of their preceptors. The total number of pupils who were at that time so circumstanced amounted to about 380; their ages averaging between 25 and 35 years. Few, it was observed, commenced their studies until they had attained the age of 21 years, and they often pursued them for 15 years, when, having acquired a perfect knowledge of the shastra and all its arcana, they returned to their native homes and set up as pundits and teachers themselves.
In 1818, Mr Ward enumerated 31 schools of learning at Nuddea, containing in all 747 students, of whom not fewer than five studied under one teacher. So many as one hundred and twenty-five students are stated to have been receiving the instructions of one teacher at the same time, but the accuracy of Mr Ward’s information in this particular may be doubted. The principal studies were logic and law, and there was only one school for general literature, one for astronomy, and one for grammar. The following are the details in Mr Ward’s words:—
Shivu-Nat’hu-Vidya-Vachusputee has one hundred and twenty-five students
Ramu-Lochunu-Nyayu-Vhooshunu, twenty ditto
Kashee-Nat’hu Turku-Chooramunee, thirty ditto
Ubhuyanundu-Turkalunkaru, twenty ditto
Ramu-Shurunu-Nyayu-Vagesshu, fifteen ditto
Bhola-Nat’hu-Shiromunee, twelve ditto
Radha-Nat’hu Turku-Punchanunu, ten ditto
Ramu-Mohunu-Vidya Vachusputee, twenty ditto
Shri Ramu-Turku-Bhooshunu, twenty ditto
Kalee-Kantu-Chooramunee, five ditto
Krishnu-Kantu-Vidya-Vageeshu, fifteen ditto
Turkalunkaru, fifteen ditto
Kalee-Prusunu, fifteen ditto
Madhubu-Turku-Sidhantu, twenty-five ditto
Kumula-Kantu-Turku-Chooramunee, twenty-five ditto
Eeshwuru-Turku-Bhooshunu, twenty ditto
Kantu-Vidyalunkaru, forty ditto
Ramu-Nat’hu-Turku-Siddantu, forty students
Gunga-Dhuru-Shiromunee, twenty-five ditto
Devee-Turkalunkaru, twenty-five ditto
Mohunu-Vidya-Vachusuputee, twenty ditto
Gangolee-Tukalunkaru, ten ditto
Krishnu-Turku-Bhooshunu, ten ditto
Pranu-Krishnu-Turku-Vageeshu, five ditto
Poorohitu, five ditto
Kashee-Kantu-Turku-Chooramunee, thirty ditto
Kalee-Kantu-Turku-Punchanunu, twenty ditto
Gudadhura-Turku-Vageeshu, twenty ditto
College where the Poetical Works are read
Kalee-Kantu-Turku-Chooramunee, fifty students
Where the Astronomical Works are read
Gooroo-Prusadu-Siddhantu-Vageeshu, fifty students
Where the Grammar is read
Shumboo-Nat’hu Chooramunee, five students.’
In 1821, the junior Member and Secretary of the General Committee of Public Instruction, H.H. Wilson, Esquire, in prosecuting a special investigation on which he was deputed, collected at the same time some general information respecting the state of learning at Nuddea. At that period Nuddea contained about twenty-five establishments for study. These are called tols, and consist of a thatched chamber for the pundit and the class, and two or three ranges of mud-hovels in which the students reside. The pundit does not live on the spot, but comes to the tol every day on which study is lawful at an early hour and remains till sunset. The huts are built and kept in repair at his expense, and he not only gives instructions gratuitously but assists to feed and clothe his class, his means of so doing being derived from former grants by the rajah of Nuddea, and presents made to him by the zemindars in the neighbourhood at religious festivals, the value of which much depends on his celebrity as a teacher. The students are all full-grown men, some of them old men. The usual number in a tol is about twenty or twenty-five, but in some places, where the pundit is of high repute, there are from fifty to sixty. The whole number is said to be between 500 and 600. The greater proportion consists of natives of Bengal, but there are many from remote parts of India, especially from the south. There are some from Nepaul and Assam, and many from the eastern districts, especially Tirhoot. Few if any have means of subsistence of their own. Their dwelling they obtain from their teacher, and their clothes and food in presents from him and the shop-keepers and land-holders in the town or neighbourhood. At the principal festivals they disperse for a few days in quest of alms, when they collect enough to sustain them till the next interval of leisure. The chief study at Nuddea is nyayu or logic; there are also some establishments for tuition in law, chiefly in the works of Raghunandana, a celebrated Nuddea pundit, and in one or two places grammar is taught. Some of the students, particularly several from the Dekhin, speak Sanscrit with great fluency and correctness.
The account by Mr Wilson is the latest and probably the most correct of the state of learning at Nuddea. The variations in the number of colleges and students at the different periods are deserving of attention. According to the respective authorities there were in 1816 forty-six schools and 380 students; in 1818 thirty-one schools and 747 students; and in 1829 twenty-five schools, containing from 5 to 600 students. It would thus appear that, within the last twenty years, the number of schools has diminished, and the number of scholars has upon the whole increased. This would seem to support the inference that there is now, in the class from which students are drawn, and increased disposition to study Hindoo learning, accompanied by a diminished ability or inclination in the class by which the colleges are principally supported, to incur the expense of encouraging new tols proportioned to the increased number of students.
Several of those schools of Hindoo learning in Nuddea are supported or aided by small annual allowances from the British Government. Thus in 1813, Ramchandra Vidyalankara who enjoyed an annual allowance of rupees 71, in consideration of his keeping up a chaupari or seminary, died. Application was shortly afterwards made to the Collector of the district, and by him referred to the Revenue Board, for the assignment of his allowance to a native who claimed it as the heir of Ramchandra Vidyalankara, but the proofs of his right of succession or qualifications not being satisfactory, it was not granted to him. In 1818, Balanath Siromani preferred a claim to this allowance as the son of Ramchandra Vidyalankara and his successor in the chaupari. On reference of this claim to the Revenue Board, the Collector was ordered to ascertain whether Balanath Siromani did actually keep a seminary in Nuddea; and it appearing on enquiry that he kept a chaupari in which he educated eight pupils in the tarka or nyayu shastra, the government determined in June 1820, that the pension of rupees 71 should be continued to him and the arrears paid up.
In June, 1818, application was made to the Revenue Board through the Collector of Nuddea, on behalf of Sivnath Vidya-Vachaspati, for a pension or allowance of rupees 90 per annum, which had been enjoyed by his father Sukra Tarkavagis, in consideration of his maintaining a seminary in Nuddea. The Board ordered the continuance of the pension and the payment of arrears.
In November, 1819, an application was made through the Collector of Nuddea to the Board of Revenue, on behalf of Sriram Siromani, for a pension or allowance of rupees 36 per annum, in consideration of his keeping up a chaupari or seminary at Nuddea, which had been founded and endowed by the rajah of Nattore. It was in this case also ascertained that Sriram Siromani did keep up the seminary in which there were three pupils, and the allowance together with the arrears was accordingly ordered to be paid to him.
A similar decision was passed in 1819 in favour of Ramjaya Tarka-Bangka, confirming to him an annual allowance of rupees 62, in consideration of his continuing to maintain a seminary in Nuddea in which he educated five pupils.
In 1823, it was represented to the Board of Revenue that a Native College existed in the town of Nuddea in which Ramchandra Tarkavagis taught the puranas, on account of which he petitioned for the annual pension or allowance from government of sicca rupees 24, which had been enjoyed by his father while resident in Rajshahy, and which he solicited might be continued to him in Nuddea. The Revenue Board directed their nazir to make enquiry as to the facts stated, and to report the result. He accordingly reported that Ramchandra Tarkavagis did keep a seminary in the town of Nuddea in which he maintained and instructed in the shastras 31 students, of whose names a list was delivered in and that he had done so for nine years then last past. Under these circumstances, the Board recommended and the government determined that the pension should be continued to Ramchandra Tarkavagis, and the arrears which had accrued since the death of his father be paid to him.
In 1829, the Committee of Public Instruction received orders to examine and report upon a petition to government from certain students at Nuddea, claiming the restoration or continuance of an allowance amounting to 100 rupees per month. The Committee deputed their junior Member and Secretary, and ascertained that all those students who came from places more than three days’ journey from Nuddea had hitherto depended very much upon this grant from government which gave them from twelve annas to one rupee a month, and nearly sufficed to procure them food. The amount of the grant that reached the students was in fact but 90 rupees, 10 being set apart for some ceremony. The number of foreign students was generally between 100 to 150, and there were about the latter number at that time at Nuddea awaiting the result of their petition. If not complied with, they would have found it necessary to quit the place. Mr Wilson made particular enquiry of the students with respect to the distribution of the allowance and entire satisfaction was uniformly expressed on this subject. A petty suraf or podar accompanied by one of their number is deputed to receive the allowance at the Collector’s Treasury. On his return he divides it among the foreign students whose presence in the town is perfectly well known. The podar, whom Mr Wilson saw, keeps a shop for the sale of grain, and supplies the students with food, advancing them occasional maintenance on the credit of their monthly allowance. They are commonly in his debt, but he is too unimportant a personage, and the students are too numerous, and as Brahmans too influential, for him to practice any fraud upon them. The allowance, he has, no doubt, is fairly distributed; and although the value of the learning acquired at Nuddea may not be very highly estimated by Europeans, yet it is in great repute with the natives, and its encouragement even by the trifling sum awarded is a gracious and popular measure. There can be no doubt of its being a very essential benefit to those students who have no other fixed means of support. On Mr Wilson’s report it was determined to continue the allowance of rupees 100 per month to the petitioners.
Little is said by any of the authorities to which I have referred of the schools of learning in this district beyond the town of Nuddea; but there can be no doubt that such exist at Santipore, Kishnaghur, and other places within the district. Mr Ward mentions transiently that, at Koomaru Hutta and Bhatpara, villages in this district, there are perhaps seven or eight such schools. At Santipore there was formerly a small Government endowment which appears to be at present in abeyance. In 1824, an application was made through the Collector of Nuddea to the Board of Revenue by Devi Prasad Nyayu Vachaspati Bhattacharyya, as the brother of Kali Prasad Tarkasiddhanta Bhattacharyya, who had died in the preceding year, for an annual allowance or pension of sicca rupees 156-11-10, in consideration to his keeping a seminary in the town of Santipore.
Enquiries were made as to the character of the deceased who is stated to have been a pundit of great ability, having when he died about 10 students under tuition. It also appeared by the evidence produced on the occasion that the brother and present claimant assisted the deceased in the tuition of his students who resided with him, and that they read the dharma shastra or works on law. The information thus produced not seeming to the Board of Revenue satisfactory, the Collector was directed to make further enquiries respecting the origin and the extent of the endowment and the service rendered, but his final report does not appear on the records.
I have already mentioned the nature of the report, made by the Judge and Magistrate of this district in 1801, that there were no seminaries within the district in which either the Hindoo or Mahomedan law was taught, and I have met with no direct evidence to establish the existence of any Mahomedan institutions. With a considerable proportion, however, of Mahomedan population it seems exceedingly improbable that they should be entirely destitute of such institutions of education as are found to exist in other districts.
DACCA & JALALPUR: (p.85)
Hamilton speaks of certain schools in the district in which the principles or rather the forms of Hindoo religion and law are taught, but I have not been able to trace any further details respecting them. I find not the remotest reference to Mahomedan schools in a district remarkable for a large proportion of Moslem inhabitants.
The public functionaries in 1823 reported to the General Committee that no grants or endowments of any description for the purpose of education were known to exist in the district.
I have not been able to obtain any information respecting indigenous schools, either elementary or learned, in this district, and I can only infer from the known state of education in other districts that here also such institutions must exist, although they have not in any way come under public notice. The Collector in 1823 reported that no endowments or funds for the purposes of education existed in the district.
The official report of 1824 makes no mention of indigenous schools of learning, and it is probable that few exist in this district. It is, however, stated that there is much land that has been appropriated to charitable purposes, some for churches and some for the benefit of the poor, but no endowments were known at that time to exist for the benefit of education.
In 1827, the Collector of the district was directed to make enquiries respecting a native institution supported by endowment, and to report the result to government. He reported that Meer Hinja had bequeathed lands for the endowment of a madrasa, and that they then yielded for the purpose of education not more than rupees 1,570 per annum, two-thirds of the endowment having been judicially assigned to the founder’s children in the year 1790; that with the remaining one-third the then incumbent Maulavi Ali Machtulul Khan Kemoun professed himself unable to keep up the institution on its then present footing, which provided for the instruction of 50 students and for the support of three teachers, one of Arabic and two of Persian; that the number of students originally contemplated was 150; and that the buildings consisted of a small mosque in good order and two low ranges of attached houses for the dwelling of the master and disciples, which were of little value. The Collector suggested that the lands would realise twice their present rental, if put up to the highest bidder by order of government; and submitted that they should be so re-let, and the proceeds paid to the Maulavi in monthly installments, who in return should periodically submit his accounts and a report of the state of the institution to the Board of Revenue for the information of government. The Governor-General in Council approved this suggestion and it was ordered accordingly.
I have no information regarding either common schools or schools of learning in this district. Hamilton states, perhaps too positively, that there are not any regular schools or seminaries where the Hindoo and Mahomedan laws and religion are taught. In reply to enquiries made by the General Committee the local agents of government stated in 1823 that they could not discover that any endowments or funds of a public nature exist in the district, or that any grants have ever been made applicable to the purpose of public instruction.
Hamilton states that there are not any regular seminaries in this district for teaching the Mahomedan law, but that there are two or three schools in each pergunnah for instruction in Hindoo learning. The district is divided into nineteen pergunnahs and six tuppas, in all twenty-five local sub-divisions, which will give from 50 to 60 schools of Hindoo learning in the district. The scholars are taught gratuitously, it being deemed disgraceful to receive money for instruction.
Indigenous schools for learning imply the existence of indigenous elementary schools, but I find no mention of them in any authority to which I have referred.
The alleged non-existence of Mahomedan schools in a district in which the proportion of Mahomedans to Hindoos is as five to two is incredible.
The information respecting the state of education in this district is exceedingly scanty. Hamilton states that there are no regular schools and seminaries for teaching the Hindoo or Mahomedan law, but that in different places there are private schools where boys are taught to read and write. Of Mymunsing the reverse was stated, that it had schools of learning, but nothing was said of elementary schools. It is probable that in Sylhet the former are to be found as well as the latter, although neither may be numerous or very efficient.
In 1801 there was said to be only one school in the district for instruction in the Mahomedan law, while there were twenty for instruction in the Hindoo laws and customs. It seems very probable that the number both of Hindoo and Mahomedan schools of learning was then and still is much greater.
In December, 1818, the Collector of Moorshedabad forwarded to the Board of Revenue the petition of one Kali Kanth Sarma, praying for the continuance to him of a pension of five rupees per month, which had been granted to his father, Jaya Ram Nyaya Panchanan, by the late Maha Rani Bhawani, former zemindar of Chucklah Rajshahy, for the support of a Hindoo college at that place. The Collector accompanied the petition by a statement that the pension had, as represented, been enjoyed by the father of the petitioner and confirmed to him by the government on the report of the Collector in 1796, and that the petitioner was of good character and qualified for the superintendence of the college. The Revenue Board on forwarding this petition and the Collector’s letter to the government observed that the pension had in fact lapsed to the government in 1811, the petitioner not being then qualified to discharge the duties of the office, but that it was intended fully to ascertain his fitness for the office and in the event of his competency to give it to him. ‘On general principles,’ the Board added, ‘we entertain the opinion that pensions granted for the maintenance of public institutions for education and instruction should not be resumed so long as they shall be appropriated bona fide for the purpose for which they were assigned; and we observe on reference to our proceedings that government has generally been pleased to continue pensions for similar purposes, the Board having previously ascertained the qualifications of the persons in whose favour they have been granted and we are accordingly induced to recommend the present claim to the favourable consideration of his Lordship in Council.’ On this recommendation the government confirmed Kali Kanth Sarma in the receipt of this pension; and upon his decease in 1821 it was by the same authority conferred on his brother Chandrasiva Nyayalankara whose claim was undisputed and who then maintained seven students, five of them resident in his house.
In July, 1822, the Collector of Moorshedabad forwarded to the Revenue Board a petition from Kishanath Nyaya Panchanand, the son of Ramkishore Sarma, reporting the death of his father, and praying the transfer and continuance to himself of a monthly pension of five rupees which had been granted in 1793 for the support of a Hindoo seminary at Vyspur near Colapur. The Collector reported the petitioner to be the heir and rightful claimant of the pension and well qualified for the performance of the duties of the school. Under these circumstances the transfer of the pension from the name of Ramkishore Sarma to his son Kishanath Nyaya Panchanand was authorised.
I find no account of the state of indigenous education in this district. Hamilton is silent on the subject, and in reply to inquiries made by the General Committee in 1823, the local Agent of Government stated that there were no seminaries for the instruction of youth in the district, either public or private, and, as I suppose must be understood, either elementary or learned. If, as I suspect, this statement is incorrect, it is the more extraordinary, because the agent appears to have taken a great deal of trouble to collect information regarding the means existing in the district supposed to be applicable to the encouragement of education. From the analogy of other neighbouring districts, it seems incredible that there should be no schools of any kind amongst a population in which there is a proportion of thirty Hindoos to one Mahomedan.
In 1820, a Hindoo named Sarbanand, who claimed succession to the office of ojha or high-priest of the temple of Baidyanath already mentioned, made an offer to the government through the local agent to give 5,000 rupees as an endowment for a Native school in the district on condition that his claim to the succession of the ojhaship might be sanctioned and established by the authority of government. From a notice of this transaction contained in the records of the General Committee, it would appear that he actually sent the money to the Collector’s office, and that in addition to the establishment of a school he wished it to be, in part, expended on the excavation of a tank at Soory, the chief town of the district. The offer was declined, and Sarbanand informed that he must abide the regular adjudication of the law courts on his claim, which proved unfavourable.
The acting Agent and Collector in Beerbhoom in 1823 seems to have considered that the funds of the temple were liable to be applied to the establishment of public institutions, but it does not appear on what grounds this opinion was formed. According to one account the collections of the temple average 30,000 rupees per annum, the amount depending on the number and liberality of the pilgrims. According to an official estimate made in 1822, the resources of the temple were supposed to be 1,50,000 rupees annually. A specific fact stated is that in two months the collections amounted to 15,000 rupees, but it is not said whether the two months were in the season of the year when the temple is most frequented. The present appropriation of the revenue after providing, I conclude, for the current expenses of the temple, is to the support of religious mendicants and devotees.
The acting Agent and Collector also submitted two statements of the quantity of land dedicated to various religious purposes, expressing at the same time the opinion that the produce of these endowments is generally estranged from the purposes to which it was originally devoted, and enjoyed by persons who have no claim to it. He seems to have considered that these endowments also were applicable to purposes of education but the reasons of the opinion are not given. The statements were prepared from the public registries of land and I subjoin them entire, noticing here only their general results. These are that in twenty-two pergunnahs there are 8,348 beeghas, besides 39 separate mouzahs or villages of dewottur lands; 16,331 beeghas of nazar lands; 5,086 beeghas of chiraghi lands and 1,015 beeghas of pirottur lands. In fifteen other pergunnahs that had been then recently transferred from the district of Moorshedabad to that of Beerbhoom, there are 1,934 beeghas of dewottur and 162 of pirottur lands, making the whole amount 32,877 beeghas of land, besides 39 villages. I have added to the statements a brief explanation of the distinctive terms employed to describe the different sorts of endowed lands; and I have recorded these endowments in this place because they were in some way connected in the mind of the acting Agent and Collector with the means existing in the district for the promotion of education; but I would not be understood to express a concurrence in the opinion, if it was entertained, that their application to such a purpose could be rendered legally obligatory. As far as I can ascertain from the terms employed to describe them, they are religious endowments. With the voluntary consent of the holders, they are, as I understand, capable of being applied to promote education when viewed as a religious duty; but without that consent it would be unjust to employ them for such a purpose, and it would also be imprudent by the employment of questionable means in pursuit of a great public object, such as national education, to rouse the religious feelings of the country against it.
There is no doubt that in this district there are several schools of Hindoo learning, but I find no mention of any of them except two which are supported by an allowance from government. In June, 1813, the Collector of Rajshahy forwarded to the Revenue Board a petition from Kassessur Bachusputy, Govindram Sirhat, and Hurram Surma Buttacharjee, stating that their father had received from Rani Bhawani an allowance of 90 rupees per annum for the support of a college, which allowance on the decease of their father had been continued to their elder brother till his decease; and that since the date of that event they had kept up the establishment, and therefore, prayed that the allowance might be continued to them.
The Collector corroborated the averments in this petition, observing that Kassessur discharged the duties of one college in the town of Nattore, and that his two brothers had established another in the Mofussil.
The Revenue Board, in forwarding the Collector’s letter and the petition to government, observed that the pension had been conferred by the authority of government on the late Chundar Sikar Turkanshes for his life, on a representation from the Collector that he had no other means of subsistence, and was properly qualified and taught the sciences gratis; that he was attended by many students; was the only capable teacher in Nattore; and that the continuance of his pension might be deemed a public benefit.
The Revenue Board further submitted that, as it appeared the brothers maintained the institutions of their father in full efficiency, the pension might be continued to them and their heirs in perpetuity, on the condition of their continuing to uphold these establishments under the supervision of the local agents of the British Government. The Bengal Government fully acquiesced in this suggestion, and sanctioned the payment of the allowance of 90 rupees per annum on the condition stated by the Revenue Board.
Hamilton on the state of learning in this district says that a few Brahmans have acquired sufficient skill in astronomy to construct an almanac, and five or six Pundits instruct youth in a science named Agam, or magic, comprehending astrology and chiromancy. The latter is reckoned a higher science than the calculation of nativities, and is monopolised by the sacred order. The Mahomedans, he adds, having no wise men of their own, consult those of the Hindoos. This account of the state of learning is very unfavourable and is not quite correct. The Agama shastra does not merely teach astrology and chiromancy, but is also occupied with the ritual observances of modern Hindooism, and it is not the only branch of learning taught in the schools.
From details furnished by the canoongoes, it appears that in nine sub-divisions of the district there are 41 schools of Sanskrit learning containing each from 5 to 25 scholars, who are taught grammar, general literature, rhetoric, logic, law, the mythological poems, and astronomy, as well as the Agama shastra. The students often prosecute their studies till they are thirty-five and even forty years of age, and are almost invariably the sons of Brahmans. They are supported in various ways—first, by the liberality of those learned men who instruct them; secondly, by the presents they receive on occasions of invitation to religious festivals and domestic celebrations; thirdly, by their relations at home; and fourthly, by begging, recourse being had to one means when others fail. The instructors are enabled to assist their pupils, sometimes from their own independent means, sometimes from the occasional gifts they receive from others, and sometimes from the produce of small endowments. At least ten are stated to have small grants of land for the support of learning, one of these consisting of 25 beeghas of Brahmottur land, and another of 176 beeghas of Lakhiraj land. The quantity of land in the other cases in not mentioned, but it is not stated to be generally Brahmottur.
In one instance it is stated that the owner of the estate on which the school is situated gave the Pundit a yearly present of 32 rupees, and in another instance a monthly allowance of 5 or 8 rupees. In a third instance the Pundit of the school lived on his patrimony, and at the same time acted as family priest to the zemindar.
Of the twenty-two sub-divisions of the district, there are fifteen without any schools of learning, and the remaining seven have only sixteen schools. Most of the teachers possess lands which enable them to provide for their own subsistence as well as that of their pupils, and they receive gifts from all Hindoos of any distinction. There is, however, no necessity for a person who holds these lands to instruct youth, and when the celebrity of a teacher has procured large grants of land, his heirs, although they continue to enjoy the estate, are not bound to teach. They may retain the high title of Pundit without devoting themselves to the business of instruction or they may even betake themselves to the degrading affairs of the world without forfeiting the property. Very much, however, to the credit of the Brahmans, such a neglect is not usual, and one son of the family continues generally to profess the instruction of youth. If there are other sons they follow their natural inclination. With such a system, however liberal it may be in appearance, and to whatever merit the individual professors are justly entitled, it must be evident that the work of education will go on but slowly. It is even to be feared that it would altogether stop, were it not for the charity which usually follows considerable reputation as a teacher.
Students usually commence the study of the Sanskrit language about twelve years of age, after they have been instructed in the knowledge taught in the elementary schools. The principal studies are, as elsewhere in Bengal, grammar, law, and metaphysics and less frequently the philosophical theology of the Veds, the ritual of modern Hindooism, and astronomy, to which may be added medicine or rather magic.
The Vaidyas or medical tribe, and even some rich Kayasthas, are permitted to study such portions of Sanskrit literature as have been composed by wise men; but they are excluded from whatever is supposed to be of divine origin and authority. Dr Buchanan remarks that the exclusiveness with which Sanskrit learning has been appropriated to the sacred tribe may have tended to increase the general ignorance; but that there can be no doubt that those who possess it enjoy very considerable advantages over their countrymen. The Brahmans generally speaking have an intelligence and acuteness far beyond other Hindoos; and he further thinks that they are subject to fewer vices, and that those persons will be found to approach nearest their good qualities who are admitted even to the porch of science. Here as well as elsewhere it will be found that although intellectual cultivation and moral excellence are neither identical nor always concomitant yet the addiction to intellectual pursuits and enjoyments, coeteries paribus, leads to the elevation and improvement of the moral character. Amongst the multiplied means, therefore, which civilisation and philanthropy will suggest for the reformation of a whole people, let us not altogether neglect one of which, however unfamiliar it may be to our conceptions, experience has established the utility, and which has in fact been the salt of the earth, preserving the country for centuries past amid general debasement and corruption from total ignorance and depravation.
It does not appear that there is any school in which Arabic or the sciences of the Mahomedans are taught,—a remarkable fact respecting a populous district in which so large a proportion of the inhabitants is Mahomedan.
Although some of the Mahomedan priests can read the portions of the Koran that are appropriated for certain ceremonies, yet Dr Buchanan heard a general complaint from the kazis that few understood a single word of that language and that the greater part had merely learned the passages by rote so as to enable them to perform the ceremonies.
Throughout the district Dr Buchanan reckoned 119 schools of this description, possessing various degrees of respectability. The subjects taught are grammar, logic, and law, astronomy and the modern ritual, the teachers of the two latter, although classed as learned men, being less respected than the former. Some even of the most respected class were reputed to possess but superficial acquirements. The students are said to be inattentive and to take long vacations. About as many students go to other districts from Purneah as are attracted to it from other quarters. No Pundit had above eight scholars altogether which is less than two for each teacher. The Pundits in the district, including the professional teachers, amounted to 247, but the claims of many to the title were deemed questionable. A great many other persons to the number of 1,800 or 1,900 assume the title of Pundit but are distinguished from the former by the name of dasakarmas. They officiate as priests to the Sudras, and towards the West they act in the same capacity for very low castes; but in those parts few can read or write any language. They understand, however, the poetical legends when read, have acquired some knowledge of the marvels they contain, have committed to memory the necessary forms of prayer, and can perform the usual ceremonies. In the eastern parts of the district, where the manners of Bengal prevail, there is a class of Brahmans who officiate for the lower castes of Sudras, and their knowledge is nearly on a level with that of the dasakarmas. The dasakarmas, who act as priests for the higher order of Sudras, can read and are able to pray from a book. A good many of them have studied for a year or two under a learned teacher, and have some slight knowledge of grammar and law. Some of them can understand a part of the ceremonies which they read, and some also can note nativities. A very few of the medical tribe in the south east corner of the district have studied the sacred tongue.
It is remarked that science is almost entirely confined to two of the corners of the district, the old territory called Gour, and the small portion situated to the west of the Kosi. In the former case, the effect is attributed to the care of a native public officer who had several estates in that vicinity, and still retained a part at the time of Dr Buchanan’s investigation. He appointed six pundits to teach, and gave them an allowance besides the lands which they possess. They are reckoned higher in rank than the other professors in the vicinity, and are called rajpundits. The thirty-one pundits in that quarter addict themselves chiefly to the study of grammar, law, and the mythological poems. Logic and metaphysics are neglected, as well as astronomy and magic. In the western side of the district there are no less than thirty-three teachers within a small space and there astrology as well as metaphysics is studied; mythological poems are not much read and magic is not known. The number of the teachers is owing to the patronage of the Rajahs of Darbhanga to whom the greater part of the lands belong; but their patronage did not appear to be very efficacious, for, of the thirty-three Pundits in the whole territory west of the Kosi, only eight were considered well-versed in the sciences and learning, which they professed to teach, viz., one in logic and metaphysics, three in grammar, and four in astrology. All these are Mithila Pundits.
Dr Buchanan has communicated some details of the proportions in which the different branches of learning were studied. Eleven Pundits taught metaphysics; of these six confined themselves entirely to that branch; one also taught grammar, another added law; two others with law also read the Sri bhagvut; and one man included the whole of these within the range of his instructions. There were no less than thirty-one teachers of the law, of whom one only confined himself to that pursuit; twenty of them taught one additional science; and of these nineteen taught grammar, and one logic and metaphysics; eight taught two additional branches, of whom three taught grammar and explained the bhagvut, two taught logic and metaphysics and also explained the bhagvut, two taught grammar and the modern ritual, and one taught grammar and astronomy. Two taught three other branches, one explaining grammar, logic and the mythological poems, and the other substituting the modern ritual for logic. Of eleven teachers of the astronomical works, ten professed nothing else. Of seven persons who taught the modern ritual, one only confined himself to it, two professed the law, three taught grammar and the metaphysical poems, and six were proficients in grammar. Only five Pundits limited themselves to the teaching of grammar.
With regard to the state of medical education and practice, Dr Buchanan ascertained that there were twenty-six Bengalee practitioners who used incantations (muntras); thirty-seven who rejected them and administered medicine; and five Mahomedan physicians who seemed to be little superior to the Hindoos. The doctrines of both are nearly the same, and seem to be founded on the school of Galen. Those who practice at large make from 10 to 20 rupees a month. They do not keep their recipes or doctrines secret, but seemed to practice in a liberal manner, although without having gained a high reputation. A considerable number are servants, and attend on wealthy families for a monthly pension. Many of them cannot read. There is another class of medical practitioners who reject incantations and exhibit herbs. They have no books, and the greater part cannot read the vulgar tongue. They have been early instructed in the use of certain herbs in certain diseases. Dr Buchanan heard of about 450 of them, but they seemed to be chiefly confined to the Hindoo divisions of the district, and they are held in very low estimation. There is also a class of persons who profess to treat sores, but they are totally illiterate and destitute of science, nor do they perform any operation. They deal chiefly in oils. The only practitioner in surgery was an old woman, who had become reputed for extracting the stone from the bladder, which she performed after the manner of the ancients.
According to Dr Buchanan the science of the Arabs has been exceedingly neglected in this district, so that very few even of the kazis are supposed to understand the Koran or any Arabic work on grammar, law or metaphysics. He did not hear of one man who attempted to teach any of these branches of learning, and he expresses a doubt whether even one man employed in administering the Mohammedan law and born in the district was tolerably well-versed in the subject, or so well informed or liberally educated as the common attornies in a country town of England.
W. ADAM ON STATE OF NATIVE MEDICAL
The state of Native Medical Practice in the (Rajshahy) district is so intimately connected with the welfare of the people that it could not be wholly overlooked; and as the few facts that I have collected tend additionally to illustrate their character and condition, it would be improper to omit them. They are submitted with deference to those who may have made professional inquiries, and can form a professional judgment on the subject.
The number of those, who may be called general practitioners and who rank highest in the native medical profession in Nattore is 123, of whom 89 are Hindus and 34 are Mahomedans. The Medical School at Vaidya Belghariya possesses considerable interest, since it is, as far as I can ascertain, the only institution of the kind in the district, and the number of such institutions throughout Bengal is, I believe, very limited. The two medical teachers of this school are employed as domestic physicians by two wealthy families, and they have each also a respectable general practice. As a domestic physician, the junior teacher has a fixed salary of twenty-five rupees a month; while the senior teacher in the same capacity has only fifteen rupees a month, and that only as long his attendance may be required during periods of sickness in the family that employs him. I have spoken of that family as wealthy, but it is only comparatively so being in very reduced circumstances; and to that cause rather than to the low estimation in which the physician is held, we must ascribe the scant remuneration he receives. At another place, Hajra Nattore, No.26, there are three educated Hindu practitioners, all three Brahmans and brothers and more or less acquainted with Sanscrit, having acquired the grammar of the language at Bejpara Amhatti, and subsequently applied their knowledge of it to the study of the medical works in that language. The eldest has practised since he was eighteen, and he is now sixty-two years of age, and employs his leisure in instructing his two nephews. On an average of the year he estimates the income derived from his practice at five rupees a month, while one of his brothers who is in less repute estimates his own income at three rupees. At a third place, Haridev Khalasi, No.100, there are four educated Hindu practitioners, three of whom appeared to be in considerable repute for skill and learning. They were all absent, and I had not an opportunity of conversing with them; but their neighbours and friends estimated their monthly professional income at eight, ten, and twelve rupees, respectively. There are at most two or three other educated Hindu physicians in Nattore, and all the rest are professionally uneducated, the only knowledge they possess of medicine being derived from Bengali translations of Sanscrit works which describe the symptoms of the principal diseases and prescribe the articles of the native materia medica that should be employed for their cure, and the proportions in which they should be compounded. I have not been able to ascertain that there is a single educated Musalman physician in Nattore, and consequently the 34 Mahomedan practitioners I have mentioned, rank with the uneducated class of Hindu practitioners, deriving all their knowledge of medicine from Bengali translations of Sanscrit works to the prescriptions of which they servilely adhere.
The only difference that I have been able to discover between the educated and uneducated classes of native practitioners is that the former prescribe with greater confidence and precision from the original authorities, and the latter with greater doubt and uncertainty from loose and imperfect translations. The mode of treatment is substantially the same, and in each case is fixed and invariable. Great attention is paid to the symptoms of disease, a careful and strict comparison being made between the descriptions of the supposed disease in the standard medical works and the actual symptoms in the case of the patient. When the identity is satisfactorily ascertained, there is then no doubt as to the practice to be adopted, for each disease has its peculiar remedy in the works of established repute, and to depart from their prescriptions would be an act of unheard of presumption. If, with a general resemblance, there should be some slight difference of symptoms, a corresponding departure from the authorised prescription is permitted, but only as regards the medium or vehicle through which it is administered. The medicines administered are both vegetable and mineral. The former are divided into those which are employed in the crude state, as barks, leaves, common or wild roots, and fruits etc.; and those which are sold in the druggist’s shop as camphor, cloves, cardamums, etc. They are administered either externally or in the forms of pill, powder, electuary, and decoction.
The preceding class of practitioners consists of individuals who at best know nothing of medicine as a science, but practise it as an art according to a prescribed routine, and it may well be supposed that many, especially of the uneducated class, are nothing but quacks. Still as a class they rank higher both in general estimation and in usefulness than the village doctors. Of these there are not fewer than 205 in Nattore. They have not the least semblance of medical knowledge, and they in general limit their prescriptions to the simplest vegetable preparations, either preceded or followed by the pronouncing of an incantation and by striking and blowing upon the body. Their number proves that they are in repute in the villages; and the fact is ascribable to the influence which they exercise upon the minds of the superstitious by their incantations. The village doctors are both men and women; and most of them are Mahomedans, like the class to which they principally address themselves.
The smallpox inoculators in point of information and respectability come next to the class of general practitioners. There are 21 of them in Nattore, for the most part Brahmans, but uninstructed and ignorant, exercising merely the manual art of inoculation. One man sometimes inoculates from 100 to 500 children in a day, receiving for each operation a fixed rate of payment varying from one to two annas; the less amount if the number of children is great, the greater amount if the number is small. The cow-pox has not, I believe, been introduced into this district amongst the natives, except at the head station. Elsewhere the smallpox inoculators have been found its opponents, but, as far as I can understand, their opposition does not arise from interested motives, for the cow-pox inoculation would give them as much labour and profit as they now have. Their opposition arises, I am assured, from the prejudice against using cow-pox. The veneration in which the cow is held is well-known, and they fear to participate in a practice which seems to be founded on some injury done to that animal when the matter was originally extracted. The spread of the cow-pox would probably be most effectually accomplished by the employment of Mussalman inoculators whose success might in due time convince the Brahman inoculators of their mistake.
Midwives are another class of practitioners that may be noticed, although it has been denied that Hindus have any. An eminent London physician, in his examination before the Medical Committee of the House of Commons, is stated to have affirmed that the inhabitants of China have no women-midwives, and no practitioners in midwifery at all. ‘Of course,’ it is added, ‘the African nations and the Hindus are the same.’ I enquired and noted the number of women-midwives (there is not a man-midwife in the country) in the villages of Nattore, and find that they amount to 297. They are no doubt sufficiently ignorant, as are probably the majority of women-midwives at home.
Still lower than the village doctors there is a numerous class of pretenders who go under the general name of conjurors or charmers. The largest division of this class are the snake-conjurors, their number in the single police sub-division of Nattore being not less than 722. There are few villages without one, and in some villages there are as many as ten. I could, if it were required, indicate the villages and the number in each; but instead of incumbering Table I with such details, I have judged it sufficient to state the total number in this place. They profess to cure the bites of poisonous snakes by incantations or charms. In this districts, particularly during the rainy season, snakes are numerous and excite much terror among the villagers. Nearly the whole district forming, it is believed, an old bed of the Ganges, lies very low; and the rapid increase of the waters during the rainy season drives the land-snakes from their holes, and they seek refuge in the houses of the inhabitants, who hope to obtain relief from their bites by the incantations of the conjurors. These take nothing for the performance of their rites, or for the cures they pretend to have performed. All is pecuniarily gratuitous to the individual but they have substantial advantages which enable them to be thus liberal. When the inhabitants of a village hitherto without a conjuror think that they can afford to have one, they invite a professor of the art from a neighbouring village where there happens to be one to spare, and give him a piece of land and various privileges and immunities. He possesses great influence over the inhabitants. If a quarrel takes place, his interference will quell it sooner than that of any one else; and when he requires the aid of his neighbours in cultivating his plot of ground or in reaping its produce, it is always more readily given to him than to others. The art is not hereditary in a family or peculiar to any caste. One I met with was a boatman, another a chowkidar and a third a weaver. Whoever learns the charm may practise it, but it is believed that those who practise it most successfully are ‘to the manner born’, that is, who have been born under a favourable conjunction of the planets. Every conjuror seems to have a separate charm, for I have found no two the same. They do not object to repeat it merely for the gratification of curiosity, and they allow it to be taken down in writing. Neither do they appear to have any mutual jealously, each readily allowing the virtue of other incantations than his own. Sometimes the pretended curer of snake-bites by charms professes also to possess the power of expelling demons, and in other cases the expeller of demons disclaims being a snake-conjuror. Demon-conjurors are not numerous in Nattore; and tiger-conjurors who profess to cure the bites of tigers, although scarcely heard of in that thana, are more numerous in those parts of the district where there is a considerable space covered by jungle inhabited by wild beasts. Distinct from these three kinds of conjurors and called by a different name is a class of gifted (guni) persons who are believed to possess the power of preventing the fall of hail which would destroy or injure the crops of the villages. For this purpose when there is a prospect of a hailstorm, one of them goes out into the fields belonging to the villages with a trident and a buffalo’s horn. The trident is fixed in the ground and the Gifted makes a wide circuit around it, running naked blowing the horn, and pronouncing incantations. It is the firm belief of the villagers that their crops are by this means protected from hailstorm. Both men and women practise this business. There are about a dozen in Nattore, and they are provided for in the same way as the conjurors.
Some of these details may appear, and in themselves probably are, unimportant, but they help to afford an insight into the character of the humblest classes of native society who constitute the great mass of the people, and whose happiness and improvement are identical with the prosperity of the country; and although they exhibit the proofs of a most imbecile superstition, yet it is superstition which does not appear to have its origin or support in vice or depravity, but in a childish ignorance of the common laws of nature which the most imperfect education or the most limited mental cultivation would remove. These superstitions are neither Hindu nor Mahomedan, being equally repudiated by the educated portions of both classes of religionists. They are probably antecedent to both systems of faith and have been handed down from time immemorial as a local and hereditary religion of the cultivators of the soil, who, amid the extraordinary changes which in successive ages and under successive races of conquerors this country has undergone, appear always to have been left in the same degraded and prostrate condition in which they are now found.
BOOKS USED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
History of Education in the Panjab since Annexation and in 1882
LEITNER ON INDIGENOUS EDUCATION IN THE PANJAB
I am about to relate—I hope without extenuation or malice—the history of the contact of a form of European with one of Asiatic civilisation; how, in spite of the best intentions, the most public-spirited officers, and a generous Government that had the benefit of the traditions of other provinces, the true education of the Panjab was crippled, checked, and is nearly destroyed; how opportunities for its healthy revival and development were either neglected or perverted; and how, far beyond the blame attaching to individuals, our system stands convicted or worse than official failure. Whether it is possible to rouse to renewed exertion, on behalf of its own education, the most loyal population that has ever been disappointed, is a question which the following pages will only partially attempt to answer. Much will of course, depend on the wise adaptation of the noble principle just propounded—of ‘local self-government’—to a department of the Administration,—that of education,—in which, above all others, it can be introduced with perfect safety and the greatest political advantage.
Respect for learning has always been the redeeming feature of ‘the East’. To this the Panjab has formed no exception. Torn by invasion and civil war, it ever preserved and added to educational endowments. The most unscrupulous chief, the avaricious money-lender, and even the freebooter, vied with the small landowner in making peace with his conscience by founding schools and rewarding the learned. There was not a mosque, a temple, a dharmasala that had not a school attached to it, to which the youth flocked chiefly for religious education. There were few wealthy men who did not entertain a Maulvi, Pandit or Guru, to teach their sons, and along with them the sons of friends and dependents. There were also thousands of secular schools, frequented alike by Mahomedans, Hindus and Sikhs, in which Persian or Lunde was taught. There were hundreds of learned men who gratuitously taught their co-religionists, and sometimes all-comers, for the sake of God-‘Lillah’. There was not a single villager who did not take a pride in devoting a portion of his produce to a respected teacher. In respectable Mahomedan families husbands taught their wives, and these their children; nor did the Sikhs prove in that respect to be unworthy of their appellation of ‘learners and disciples’. In short, the lowest computation gives us 3,30,000 pupils (against little more than 1,90,000 at present) in the schools of the various denominations who were acquainted with reading, writing, and some method of computation; whilst thousands of them belonged to Arabic and Sanskrit colleges, in which Oriental Literature and systems of Oriental Law, Logic, Philosophy, and Medicine were taught to the highest standards. Tens of thousands also acquired a proficiency in Persian, which is now rarely reached in Government and aided schools or colleges. Through all schools there breathed a spirit of devotion to education for its own sake and for its influence on the character and on religious culture; whilst even the sons of Banyas who merely learnt what they absolutely required in order to gain a livelihood looked with respect, amounting to adoration, on their humble Pandhas, who had taught them the elements of two ‘Rs’.
We have changed all this. The annexation disturbed the minds of believers in Providence, and all that was respectable kept, as much as possible, aloof from the invader,—just as the best Englishman would not be the first to seek the favour of a foreign conqueror.
CLASSIFICATION OF INDIGENOUS SCHOOLS
I. SIKH INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
1. Gurmukhi Schools
II. MOHAMMEDAN INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
3. Madrasas, religious and secular
4. Koran Schools.
III. HINDU INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
5. Chatsalas (for the trading community)
6. Patshalas (religious)
7. Patshalas (semi-religious)
8. Secular Schools of various kinds and grades
IV. MIXED INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
9. Persian Schools
10. Vernacular Schools
11. Anglo-Vernacular Schools
V. FEMALE INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
12. (a) Female Schools for Sikh girls
(b) -do- Mohammedan girls
(c) Instruction at Hindu homes
With a more minute subdivision the indigenous schools might have to be classified as follows:-
I. MAKTABS OR MADRASAS
1. Arabic Schools and Colleges (of various grades and specialities)
2. Perso-Arabic Schools and Colleges (of various grades and specialities)
3. Koran Schools (where merely or chiefly the Koran is read)
4. Perso-Koran Schools
5. Koran-Arabic Schools
6. Perso-Koran-Arabic Schools
7. Persian Schools
8. Persian-Urdu Schools
9. Persian-Urdu-Arabic Schools
10. Arabic Medical Schools
11. Perso-Arabic Medical Schools
II. GURMUKHI SCHOOLS
12. Gurmukhi Schools
13. Gurmukhi and Lande Schools
III. MAHAJANI SCHOOLS
14. Lande Schools of different kinds (Chatsalas)
15. Nagari-Lande Schools (Chatsalas)
16. Perso-Lande Schools
17. Nagari-Sanscrit Schools
18. Sanscrit religious Schools
19. Sanscrit secular literary Schools (cultivating various branches)
20. Sanscrit semi-secular Schools (cultivating various branches)
21. Sanscrit Medical Schools (Chiefly)
22. Hindi-Sanscrit Schools
23. Sanscrit astrological or astronomical Schools (Chiefly)
V. FEMALE INDIGENOUS SCHOOLS
(classified as above)
LIST OF SANSCRIT BOOKS USED
Balbodh Akshar dipika
Laghu Kaumudi Paniniya Vyakaran
Kaumudi Siddhant Kaumudi
Shekar Prakrita Prakasa
Amar Kosh Malini Kosh
III. POETRY, THE DRAMA AND RELIGIOUS HISTORY
Raghu Vans Mahabharat
Megh Duta Venisanhara
Kirat Arjun Naishadha Charita
Sri Mad Bhagwat Kumara Sambhava
and other Puranas
Kavya Dipik Kavya Prakash
Sahitya Darpana Dasu Rupa
V. MATHEMATICS, ASTRONOMY, AND ASTROLOGY
Siddbant Shiromani Nil Kanthi
Mahurta Chintamani Brihat Jatak
Shighra Bodh Parasariya
VI. MEDICAL SCIENCE
Sham Raj Nighant
Susruta Sharang Dhar
Charaka Bhashya Parichehed
Madhava Nidan Vagbhat
Nyaya Sutra Vritti Gada dhari
Tark Sangrah Kari kavali
Atma Bodh Sarirak
Manu Smriti Parasara Smriti
Yagya Valk Gautama
Sankhya Tatwa Kaumudi Patanjali, Sutra Britti Sutra with Bhashya
Sankhya Pravachan Bhashya Vedanta, Vedantsar (see Yoga Sutra also above)
Vaiseshika, Siddhant Mimansa, Sutra with Muktavali Sutra with Bhashya Artha Sangraha
Srut Bodh Vritta Ratnakar
XII. PROSE LITERATURE
Dasa Kumara Charita
Rigveda Sanhita (rare) Samaveda, Mantra Bhaga Yajurveda, Shukla Yajur Chhandasya Archika (very Vajasneyi Sanhita rare)
Correspondence between Mahatma Gandhi and
Sir Philip Hartog
MAHATMA GANDHI ON INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
...That does not finish the picture. We have education of this future state. I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished. The village schools were not good enough for the British administrator, so he came out with his programme. Every school must have so much paraphernalia, building, and so forth. Well, there were no such schools at all. There are statistics left by a British administrator which show that, in places where they have carried out a survey, ancient schools have gone by the board, because there was no recognition for these schools, and the schools established after the European pattern were too expensive for the people, and therefore they could not possibly overtake the thing. I defy anybody to fulfill a programme of compulsory primary education of these masses inside of a century. This very poor country of mine is very ill able to sustain such an expensive method of education. Our state would revive the old village schoolmaster and dot every village with a school both for boys and girls.
Question (SIR PHILIP HARTOG): Would Mr Gandhi give his authority for the statement that literacy had diminished in India during the last fifty years?
Mr Gandhi replied that his authority was the Punjab Administration Reports, and said that he had published in Young India a study of the Punjab educational statistics.
SIR PHILIP HARTOG: Would Mr Gandhi explain why the literacy figure was fourteen percent of the men and only two percent of the women, and why illiteracy was higher in Kashmir and Hyderabad than in British India?
Mr Gandhi replied that the women’s education had been neglected, to the shame of the men. He could only conjecture, with regard to the figures for Kashmir, that if illiteracy was greater there, it was due to the negligence of the ruler or because the population was predominantly Mohammedan, but he thought that, as a matter of fact, it was six of the one and half a dozen of the other.
—from International Affairs, London, November 1931: from a long speech by Mahatma Gandhi, on October 20, 1931 held under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, London; the meeting was attended by influential Englishmen and English-women drawn from all parts of England. Lord othian, who was one of the British chairmen at the Round Table Conference on India, presided at this meeting.
above text is copied from
Collected Works, Vol.48, pp.199-200, 201-2)
. . .
5, Inverness Gardens, W.8.
21st October, 1931
M.K. Gandhi, Esq.,
Round Table Conference,
St. James Palace,
Dear Mr Gandhi,
I understood you to say last night at the Royal Institute of International Affairs that you could prove on the evidence of British officials that literacy had diminished in British India in the last fifty or hundred years. In reply to my request for the precise authority for this statement you mentioned a Punjab Administration Report, (without, however, giving the date,) and said that what had happened in the Punjab must have happened in the rest of India. You mentioned, too, an article in ‘Young India’, but also without giving its date. The subject is one in which I have taken a deep interest for some years, and I should be grateful, therefore, if you would very kindly give me precise references to the printed documents on which your statements were based, so that I may consult them.
You will, I feel sure, forgive me for pointing out that the assumption that what happens in the educational world in the Punjab necessarily happens in the rest of India is a mistaken one. It is generally recognised that the Punjab has made more rapid advances in primary education in the last 10 or 15 years than any other province in India.
In reply to my question about the inferiority of the literacy in the two largest Indian States, Kashmir, (Predominantly Mohammedan with a Hindu ruler), and Hyderabad, (Predominantly Hindu with a Mohammedan ruler), you suggested that perhaps Kashmir was educationally backward because it was predominantly Mohammedan, but this left the backwardness of Hyderabad as compared with British India unexplained. Probably the facts had not been previously brought to your notice.
If you should find ultimately that the inference from your remarks that backwardness in literacy and education has been due to British administration in India was unjustified, I feel certain that you would wish to correct your statement.
M.K. Gandhi Esq.,
Round Table Conference,
St. James’ Palace,
. . .
23rd October, 1931
Inadvertently, I have no doubt, you have omitted to sign your letter, but as the address is fully given, I am hoping that this letter will reach you.
You will realise that I could not off-hand give you the dates, but since you would gladly study the whole question, I would find out the numbers of ‘Young India’ in which the articles appeared and send the references to you. I shall also find out what is possible to prove with reference to the other provinces, apart from the deductions that I have drawn from the Punjab. Meanwhile, I have no difficulty in drawing the deduction from the rest of the Provinces from the examples of the Punjab and Burma. Whatever may be the strides made by the Punjab during the past five or ten years, cannot affect the argument that I have advanced to you.
About Kashmir, as I said in reply, mine was merely a conjecture, but since you are so interested in the question, I shall try and find out the true state of education in Kashmir.
You are quite right in feeling certain that if there were any error in my reasoning or the facts that I stated, I should immediately correct them, and whilst I should try to verify more fully the statements that I made, you will also on your part oblige me by giving me such information as may be in your possession and as may help me to understand the truth.
Sd/- M.K. Gandhi
. . .
27th October 1931
Dear Mr Gandhi,
I am much obliged by your very friendly letter of 23rd October and must apologise for having omitted to sign my own of the 22nd. I must have signed the carbon copy instead of the copy sent.
I shall be grateful for the references to the articles in ‘Young India’ which you promise me, and I will verify them and give you my opinion of them.
In reply to your request for the sources of my own knowledge of the history of education in India, I would refer you to the sources quoted in the report of the Calcutta University Commission of which I was Chairman (Interim Report of the Indian Statutory Commission, H.M. Stationery Office, Cmd. 3407,1929), and especially to the literacy figures, taken from the census reports and quoted on p.382 of Vol.1 of the Simon Report, which I subjoin:—
In 1911 the figure for British India was 12%; and in 1881 8%. It has always to be remembered that these percentages are adversely affected by the existence of nearly 20,000,000 aboriginals and hill tribes, as well as by the educational backwardness of a far greater number of ‘untouchables’.
You will notice that the figure for males for British India increased from 8% in 1881 (50 years ago) to 12% in 1911 and 14.4% in 1921, not a rapid increase, but still an increase.
In Travancore and Cochin you have a large number of Indian Christians. In Baroda the system of compulsory primary education taken from Western models, began to be introduced in 1893.
The census figures, as you well see, are in complete contradiction with your assertion that literacy has diminished in British India in the last fifty years.
The figures for Hyderabad (preponderatingly Hindu with a Mohammedan ruler), and for Kashmir (preponderatingly Muslim with a Hindu ruler) seem inexplicable if you attribute illiteracy to British administration.
I would refer you also to the chapter on Education which I have contributed to ‘Modern India’ (Oxford University Press, 1931), and finally to a work by an advanced Indian political thinker, the late Lala Lajpat Rai (National Education in India, 1920), whose views, though in many ways opposed to your own, I am sure you would find interesting.
I welcome your decision, of which I felt assured beforehand, that you will immediately correct your statement, if you are convinced that it is erroneous, and I look forward to your doing so.
Sd/- Philip Hartog
13th November, 1931
M.K. Gandhi, Esq.
88, Knightsbridge, W.
Dear Mr Gandhi,
I wrote on October 27th in reply to your letter to me of October 23rd, but have not yet received from you the promised references to the documents (a Punjab Administration Report and the articles in ‘Young India’) on which your statement that literacy had diminished in British India during the last fifty years was based.
In case my letter of the 27th may have miscarried I enclose a copy of it, and am sending this to you by registered post.
Sd/- Philip Hartog
M.K. Gandhi, Esq.
. . .
88, Knightsbridge, S.W.1.
(Post-Mark Nov. 14, 1931)
(To Sir Philip Hartog, London)
Mr Gandhi has your letter of the 27th October. He has now been able to secure the files of ‘Young India’ for 1920 and wants me to send you the enclosed copies.
(see following page)
COPY OF ARTICLE TAKEN FROM ‘YOUNG INDIA’
8TH DECEMBER 1920
THE DECLINE OF MASS EDUCATION IN INDIA
(By Daulat Ram Gupta, M.A.)
It is generally believed that from the time the British Government have taken in their hands the duty of educating the people of India, in accordance with the Parliamentary dispatch of 1854, the country has made remarkable progress in education, in so far as the number of schools, the number of scholars, and the standard of education are concerned. It will be my business to prove, that we have made no such progress in these respects,—a fact which will be startling to some and a revelation to others—and in so far as our mass education is concerned, we have certainly made a downward move since India has passed to the British Crown.
The advent of British Rule found in India systems, of education of great antiquity and value existing among both Hindus and Mussalmans, in each case closely bound up with their religious institutions. There was not a mosque, a temple, a Dharamsala, that had not a school attached to it. To give and receive instruction was regarded as a religious duty. Schools of learning were formed in centres containing a considerable high caste population, where Pandits gave instruction in Sanskrit, grammar, logic, philosophy and law.
For the lower classes, village schools were scattered over the country in which a good rudimentary education was given to the children of petty traders, cultivators and landlords. The very fact that every family of the DWIJA (twice-born) and every guild of the mixed castes, and every village of any importance, had its own priest, and that it was enjoined upon the priest to teach as well as to minister to religion, leads one to the belief, on strong prima facie grounds, that education was very widely diffused among the people.
The higher education of the Mussalmans was in the hands of men of learning. Schools were attached to mosques and shrines and supported by the state grant in cash or land, or by private liberality. The course of study in a Muslim Madrassa included grammar, rhetoric, logic, literature, jurisprudence, and science.
Thus, in Madras, in an inquiry conducted by Sir Thomas Munro in 1826, it is stated that in 1826 there were 11,758 indigenous schools and 740 colleges giving instruction to 1,57,664 boys, and 4,023 girls. (Vide Education Commission Report by the Madras Provincial Committee 1884). It is therefore estimated, that considering the population in that period (123,50,941) elementary indigenous education was imparted to about one-fourth of the boys of school-going age. It was also estimated that there was at least one school to every 1,000 of the population. ‘But as only a few females were taught in schools, we may reckon one school to every 500 of the population.’
Mr Munro, (as he then was) further supplements this estimate of the spread of education with the following observation:—
I am, however, inclined to estimate the portion of the male population, who receive school education, to one-third than one-fourth of the whole, because we have no return of the numbers taught at home.
In 1826, such was the state of purely indigenous education in a province which had been under British influence for over a century and was, therefore, fast disintegrating old institutions and adopting new ones.
In Bengal, Mr W. Adam, conducted a similar inquiry and found that in 1835 ‘a network of primitive Vernacular schools existed throughout Bengal’, and he estimated their number to be about one lakh. The Sadler Commission has pointed out that ‘no attempt was made to develop these schools.’ Government preferred to devote its energies to secondary and higher schools, on the theory that, if Western education were introduced among the upper classes, it would ‘filter down’ by a natural process to the lower classes. Practically all the public funds available for education were expended on schools and colleges founded and controlled by Government, and nothing was spent upon indigenous schools, and as rent-free lands attached to these schools were resumed, the schools were left without any financial aid and naturally collapsed.
The purpose of all this was political. Sir Sankaran Nair in his masterly Minute of Dissent writes:—
Efforts were made by the government to confine higher education and secondary education, leading to higher education, to boys in affluent circumstances...Rules were made calculated to restrict the diffusion of education generally and among the poorer boys in particular. Conditions for “recognition” for “grants”—stiff and various—were laid down and enforced, and the non-fulfillment of any one of these
conditions was liable to be followed by serious consequences. Fees were raised to a degree, which, considering the circumstances of the classes that resort to schools, were abnormal. When it was objected that minimum fee would be a great hardship to poor students the answer was such students had no business to receive that kind of education. Managers of private schools who remitted fees in whole or in part, were penalised by reduced grants-in-aid.
Thus, by this policy, education was only confined to the well-to-do classes.
‘They it was believed would give no trouble to the Government.’ Sri Sankaran Nair, therefore, concludes that,
It is the universal belief, and there is little doubt that facts unfortunately tend to prove it, that primary English Education for the masses, and higher education for the higher classes are discouraged for political reasons. Higher, professional, industrial and technical education is discouraged to favour English industries and recruitment in England of English officials.
In the Punjab the state of indigenous education was much better because of the special efforts made by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to promote learning. Dr Leitner, who was the Principal of the Oriental College and Government College, Lahore, and who also officiated for some time as Director of Public Instruction, Punjab, conducted a very thorough going inquiry into the state of indigenous education in the Punjab, and in his book on the ‘History of Indigenous Education’ in the Punjab, he writes:—
I am about to relate—I hope without extenuation or malice—the history of the contact of a form of European, with one of the Asiatic, civilisation; how in spite of the best intentions, the most public-spirited officers, and a generous government that had the benefit of the traditions of other provinces, the true education of the Punjab was crippled, checked and is nearly destroyed; how opportunities for its healthy revival and development were either neglected or perverted; and how, far beyond the blame attaching to individuals, our system stands convicted of worse then official failure.
He therefore writes:—
I fear that my account of the decline of indigenous education in the Punjab may offend some prejudices and oppose some interests. I have to appeal to rulers to put themselves in the position of the ruled, if they wish to understand them...and both the writer of these pages and the reader must endeavour to divest themselves of every preconception. Indeed, the man has so often described the struggle with the lion, that it would be well to sketch a picture which the lion might have drawn had he been a painter.
Referring to the educational glory of the Punjab before annexation he writes:
Respect for learning has always been the redeeming feature of the East. To this the Punjab formed no exception. Torn by invasion and war, it ever preserved and added to educational endowments. The most unscrupulous chief, the avaricious money lender, and even the free-booter, vied with the small land-owner in making peace with his conscience by founding schools and rewarding the learned. There was not a mosque, a temple, a Dharamsala, that had not a school attached to it, to which the youth flocked chiefly for religious education. There were few wealthy men who did not entertain a Maulvi, Pandit, or Guru to teach their sons, and along with them the sons of friends and dependents. There were also thousands of secular schools, frequented alike by Mahomedans, Hindus and Sikhs, in which Persian or Hindi was taught. There were hundreds of learned men who gratuitously taught their co-religionists, and sometimes all comers, for the sake of God, “Lillah”. There was not a single village who did not take a pride in devoting a portion of his produce to a respected teacher. In respectable Mahomedan families husbands taught their wives, and these their children; nor did the Sikhs prove in that respect to be unworthy of the appellation of “Learners and disciples”. In short the lowest computation gives us 3,30,000 pupils in the schools of the various denominations who were acquainted with reading, writing and some method of computation, whilst thousands of them belonged to Arabic and Sanskrit Colleges, in which oriental literature and system of oriental law, logic, philosophy and medicine were taught to the highest standards. Tens of thousand also acquired a proficiency in Persian which is now rarely reached in government and aided schools and colleges. Through all schools there breathed a spirit of devotion to education for its own sake, and for its influence on the character and on religious culture; whilst even the sons of Banias who merely learnt what they absolutely required in order to gain a livelihood, looked with respect, amounting to adoration, on their humble Pandhas, who taught them the elements of two ‘Rs’.
Dr Leitner further describes the state of feeling with respect to education in the Punjab. He writes:
The Punjab is classic ground. Not merely the celebrated country between Sutlej and the Jumna, but also the whole province teems with noble recollections. The history of its culture will tell us of a simple worship...........of an ardent republicanism allied to the most chivalrous devotion to chiefs, of capacity for self-Government not equalled elsewhere, and above all, of the universal respect for learning and of the general spread of education. The priest was a professor and poet, and education was a religious, social and professional duty.
It is, therefore, our belief, founded on authentic historical data, that before annexation, every Punjab village had a school of its own.
In every Indian village which has retained anything of its form...the rudiments of knowledge are sought to be imparted; there is not a child, except those of the outcastes (who form no part of the community), who is not able to read, to write, to cypher; in the last branch of learning, they are confessedly most proficient.’ (Vide BRITISH INDIA by Ludlow).
Dr Leitner estimated that in 1854-55 there were at least 30 thousand schools, and if we count at least 13 pupils per school, the total number of pupils will amount to 4 lakhs. Dr Leitner writes:
‘The village school would contain 3,00,000 pupils, but there are reasons for estimating larger number.’
Further, in backward districts like that of Hushiarpur, the Settlement Report of 1852, shows a school to every 1,965 male inhabitants (adults and non-adults), which may be contrasted with the present proportion of one government or aided school to every 9,028 or one school to 2,818.7 inhabitants including the present number of ascertained indigenous schools throughout the province, a significant contrast to the proportion of one school to every 1,783 inhabitants in the most backward division of the Punjab in 1849 when brought under British Rule after a period of confusion following on war and annexation.
Such was the state of affairs in 1882, but the contrast will become more startling if we look at the figures already reproduced in ‘Young India’.
A mere glance at that statement will show how the indigenous education has declined, and how stagnant the state of education has remained from 1882 to 1918-19. In a period of 37 years the government has done nothing whatsoever for mass education. In a period less than this, England was able to educate the whole of its populations; in a period considerably less than this, America could give education to a population without any records of civilisation or intellectual stamina; and in a period equal to this, Japan was able to work out its destiny. But such is the way of doing things in India that during all this time nothing was done except to shift schools from one place to another, to shift the expenses of education from one source to another, to shift the responsibility from man to man; in fact to make shifts as best as could be done.
Such in brief is the history of the decline of indigenous education, and as to how it was crushed in the Punjab will form the subject matter of the next article.
. . .
COPY OF ARTICLE TAKEN FROM ‘YOUNG INDIA’
OF 29TH DECEMBER 1920
HOW INDIGENOUS EDUCATION WAS CRUSHED IN
The Punjab was the last of all the Provinces of India to come under the direct influence of the English. The Honourable the East India Company had during a couple of centuries, extended their sphere of influence from the Cape to the Jamuna; but its administrators never thought it worth the trouble to go beyond the Moghul Court. The Moghul Court itself was jealous of any encroachments upon its northern province—the gateway to Kabul—which they still looked upon as their ancestral home.
When the descendants of Aurangzeb began to bungle things in this province, the invaders from the North and the people from within threw in a state of anarchy and misrule. Under such circumstances the hardy Sikh began to realise his own importance and individuality. Ever afterwards till 1849, the Sikhs kept the banks of Beas free from all diplomatic or martial overtures. They preferred their own incapacity to govern to an established order of things where their liberty would be restrained and their religion interfered with. The Sikh like the Hindu is essentially devout, and his devotion always lands him on the side of conservatism; of respect for the past, its institutions and traditions.
So that, when the reins of government and authority passed into the hands of the Sikhs, both from lack of initiative and requirements of diplomacy, they left untouched all the old village institutions. Whereas, British administrators in other provinces were changing and modifying ancient ways and manners to suit their own conceptions, the Sikh Sirdar was content to let things have their own way, so long as he got the revenue that he wanted. The result of it all was that a network of village schools which traditions of a thousand years past had spread all over India, was in its full strength here. If any change was made at all, it was to add the Granthi or Bhai, to the Maulvi and the Pandit. Instead of there being two traditional teachers of village youth, now there became three.
The village education was an essential part of the village administration and the provision for it was made in the village expenses. The ‘school-master’s field’, the ‘watchman’s field’ never disappear from the village books. There was in every village in the Punjab, a school of some sort, in which elementary education, having a direct bearing on the secular needs of the pupil, was imparted either free of cost, or at a nominal rate of monthly fee. In addition to these schools, there were spread all over the province ‘colleges’ of various grades and denominations in which the ancient ideals of the academies were kept alive and potent. There were centres of advanced studies of metaphysics, astronomy, mathematics, grammar, philosophy and other sciences.
That much good was done to all sections of the community by these indigenous schools and colleges, is beyond doubt a fact recognised even by the bitter antagonists of the indigenous system. From the advanced ‘colleges’, in which classical education (Arabic and Sanskrit) was imparted to students of mature age and thought, to the elementary Mahajani, Sharafi, and Lande Schools, there was a very large variety of quasi-classical vernacular and technical schools. The teachers always kept in view the requirements of individual students and the profession they were qualifying for.There was no class instruction, as in our schools reducing all intellects to the same level and retarding the industrious for the sake of the dullard. But recitations in Sanskrit and the system of repeating lessons in chorus on the dispersion of the school encouraged such emulation as may be necessary, whilst the separate instruction of the pupil and his devotion to his work during the time that he was not reading with his tutor stimulated those habits of reflection and of private study, in which the students of present day schools are sadly deficient. Then again when the student grew older, he travelled to learn philosophy under one tutor, and law under another, much in the same way as students of German Universities visit various seats of learning in order to hear, say, international law at Heidelberg, the Pandects at Berlin.
It would not be without interest to point out that from the humblest beginnings in education up to the highest courses in Hindu metaphysics and science great wisdom was displayed. Traces of the ‘Kindergarten system’ are still found. The simplest methods for arresting and keeping attention were resorted to and the moral and mental capacities of children, according to their spheres of life, were everywhere carefully studied and cultivated. As for the mode of instruction, it also bore in every one of its features the emphatically practical as well as ideal aim of the Hindu legislator.
That the above statement is not an unsupported assertion, I will quote a paragraph from the first educational despatch of the Court of Directors which was issued on the 3rd June 1814.
The Directors point out that ‘the indigenous village schools are a part of the village system and that they have formed a model to schools in England.’ Again they point out ‘this venerable and benevolent institution of the Hindus is represented to have withstood the shock of revolutions, and to its operation is ascribed the general intelligence of the native.’
In 1848 the Government of the Punjab passed into the hands of the East India Company. The first Board of Administration in the Punjab recognised the full value of the rich educational legacy, which they inherited from the decaying and disintegrating Sikh constitution. Recognising the widespread character of the indigenous education, and the necessity of keeping up old educational traditions alive, Sir John and Sir Henry Lawrence defined their policy in matters of education in the following words:—
‘We intend to set up one school, if not in every village, at least in every circle of villages, so that at least there should be something throughout the land in which the children do attend some rudimentary school.’
How far policy was actually carried out will be explained in another article.
. . .
17 November 1931
Dear Mr Gandhi,
I beg to acknowledge with thanks the undated letter received on November 14th, written on your behalf by Mr M. Desai in which were enclosed typed copies of two articles on Indian education by Mr D.R. Gupta published in Young India for 8th December 1920 and 29th December 1920.
I understand that it is on the evidence adduced in those articles and on a Punjab Administration Report to which you have not given me the reference, that you base the sweeping statement that literacy had diminished in British India during the past fifty years, and that you could prove this from official statements.
I have examined the articles and can find nothing in them to support your contention. The articles do not contain a single percentage of literacy. The chief authority quoted is the ‘History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab’ by Dr G.W. Leitner, a Punjab Official. I feel sure that when you made your assertion you cannot have been aware that that book was published nearly fifty years ago, in 1882. Mr D.R. Gupta does not mention the fact. Nor does he point out that so far from regarding the Punjab as typical, Leitner compares that Province educationally to its disadvantage with the Central Provinces and with Lower Bengal (loc. cit. p.3). It is only within the past ten or fifteen years that the Punjab has made the rapid advances in primary education to which I referred in my letter of 21st October.
I am still awaiting the reference which you promised to a Punjab Administration Report. I have consulted recent Punjab Administration Reports, but can find nothing in them relating to literacy in British India, and it is obviously unlikely that any Punjab Report would deal with such a subject. If you find therefore that your reference was made in error, may I suggest that you should now withdraw your statement in accordance with the undertaking given in the last paragraph of your letter to me of October 23rd?
P.S.: May I ask from what Report Sir Sankaran Nair’s Note of Dissent referred to in Mr Gupta’s first article, is quoted? No reference is given in the article itself.
M.K. Gandhi, Esq,.
88, Knightsbridge, W.
. . .
London, S.W. 1,
November 19, 1931
Sir Philip Hartog, K.B.E.
5 Inverness Gardens, W.8.
Dear Sir Philip,
I am much obliged to you for your letter of the 17th inst.
I do not propose just now to withdraw the statement I made at the meeting at Chatham House. At the present moment I have not got any time for searching the records to which you are making reference. I, however, promise not to forget the matter, and if I find that I cannot support the statement made by me at Chatham House, I will give my retraction much wider publicity than the Chatham House speech could ever attain.
Meanwhile I am endeavouring to find out the references you want.
Sd/- M.K. Gandhi
Sir Philip Hartog, K.B.E.
5 Inverness Gardens, W.8
. . .
20 November 1931
Dear Mr Gandhi,
I am much obliged by your letter of yesterday’s date.
I think it might help matters if you could spare me a few moments of your valuable time; and I should be glad to call on you if would suggest a day and hour.
Sd/- Philip Hartog
M.K. Gandhi, Esq,.
88, Knightsbridge, W.
. . .
5, Inverness Gardens,W.8.
22nd November 1931
Dear Mrs Naidu,
In accordance with your kind suggestion today I send you enclosed copies of my letters to Mr Gandhi of 27th October and 17th November. The other letters from me do not contain any detailed information. Would you kindly return the enclosures at your convenience?
With kind regards,
Mrs Sarojini Naidu,
7, Park Place,
St. James’, S.W.I.
. . .
Boars Hill, Oxford.
November 23, 1931
Dear Sir Philip Hartog,
I probably under-rate the indigenous system of Indian education; at any rate, I have never thought it amounted to much. My statement is not the usual extravagant claim of the Nationalist, but a pretty mild one.
However, you will get the evidence in F.E. Keay, Ancient Indian Education, Oxford University Press 1918—esp. pp.51, 57, 107 and passim.
Dr Leitner, History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab, pp.14, 21 passim.
A Report for the Punjab Government issued in 1882.
A.P. Howell, Education in British India Prior to 1854. And Ludlow, British India.
The Madras Presidency made an enquiry, 1822-6, and calculated that rather less than one-sixth of the boys of school-going age received education of some sort. Bombay Presidency, 1823-8, estimated it as one in eight, Bengal, 13.2 percent (Adam’s enquiry 1835). William Ward supposed that about one-fifth of the male population of Bengal could read.
I know the difficulties. But I feel more and more that in this matter, of general education, we did precious little to congratulate ourselves on—until the last dozen years. Don’t you agree? Calcutta University was damned bad. And the Middle Vernacular schools—
Sd/- Edward Thompson
P.S. I do not believe we destroyed indigenous schools and indigenous industries out of malice (which is what is stated, in America as well as India). It was inevitable.
. . .
INTERVIEW WITH MR GANDHI ON DECEMBER 2, 1931
In my last letter to Mr G. relating to his statement at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on October 20th that literacy in India had diminished during the last 50 or 100 years (see Journal of International Affairs November 1931, pp.727, 728, 734, 735). I had asked him for an interview. I received no reply in writing, but Mrs Sarojini Naidu, to whom I had spoken on the matter, arranged for an interview today, by telephone, and I went to see Mr G. at 88, Knightsbridge at 4 p.m. and stayed till five. He was lying on a sofa covered with his shawl in front of a big fire, obviously tired, though he insisted on rising both when I came and when I went. He told me that he had thought his strength was equal to anything but that he was now saturated. I suggested that he might be too tired to discuss matters but he said that it was a pleasure to meet me and he apologised sincerely for not having written to offer me an appointment.
He admitted at once that he had at present no facts to substantiate his statements and did not attempt to answer my argument that the articles in Young India for December 8th and 29th 1920 by Daulat Ram Gupta of which he had furnished me with typed copies, contained no literacy figures and that the most recent official report in them, Dr G.W. Leitner’s History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab was written in 1882 and could therefore furnish no evidence with regard to the progress or decline of literacy in India during the last 50 years. He told me that Mr Mahadeo Desai who was present had been investigating the matter in the British Museum. Mr Desai admitted that he had found nothing fresh up to the present. Mr G. said that he would question the writer of the articles in Young India and that on his return he would get competent friends to investigate the matter for him over there and that he would send me a cablegram with regard to the result, and that in it he would say whether he had found material that would convince me that he was right, or that he would apologise handsomely for his mistake, and would make his withdrawal in such a way as to reach a much wider audience than his original statement.
I showed him Leitner’s Book and pointed out the statement on p.3 in which Leitner had pointed out that the Punjab was not typical but far behind the Central Provinces and Lower Bengal in the proportion of pupils to population, a statement not referred to by Mr Gupta though he had quoted figures in regard to Hushiarpur from p.2. I told Mr G. that the population of British India in 1882 was roughly speaking 210 millions and that it had increased in 1931 to about 270 millions, i.e. about 30 percent in round figures, and that during that period the number of pupils under instruction in British India had increased from about 2½ millions to over 11 millions, i.e. more than 4 times, and that it would be surprising therefore if literacy had diminished during these 50 years.
I also pointed out that it was impossible to draw any accurate conclusions on the other hand in regard to literacy from the numbers of pupils under instruction. Howell in his Education in British India had pointed out that for many reasons, including the early age at which the children are withdrawn it was almost worthless (loc. cit. p.7). I also mentioned that during the years 1917-1927 in Bengal with an increased enrolment of over 3,00,000 pupils (the actual figure is about 370,000) there had been a decline of about 30,000 pupils in the number that reached Class IV where under present conditions, literacy was first attained.
I also showed Mr G. certain figures of literacy for Bengal from Adam’s Report on Vernacular Education of 1835-38 and compared them with the census figures for 1921 Vol.5, p.302. I further showed him census figures for 1911 and 1901 taken from the same volume, p.285, showing considerable increases in literacy in Burma, Bengal and Madras, though the Punjab, Bihar, Bombay and United Provinces had made little or no progress during those years. Mr Gandhi said, ‘I know very little about these things’ in a tone of apology, to which I rejoined that he had no doubt many other things to occupy his attention.
Towards the end of the interview I said that I hoped that he was now on the side of peace. He replied that he had meant exactly what he had said on the previous day, that he would read the Prime Minister’s declaration over again and again, and that he felt the immense personal responsibility that rested on his shoulders in advising Congress. He said that he had postponed his departure in order to see Sir Samuel Hoare on the following Friday as Sir Samuel had said that he would have no free time during the debate in Parliament (on the Wednesday and Thursday). I said, ‘I am sure you must be convinced that Englishmen are in earnest in wishing to give India everything possible at the present moment.’ He said, ‘Yes, but there is one thing that the English sincerely believe, but which I cannot understand. They think us incapable of managing our own affairs even with the help of experts. When I was a young man and my father was Prime Minister of an Indian State, I knew the Prime Minister of another Indian State (Junagarh), who could hardly sign his own name but who was a very remarkable man and managed the state wonderfully. He knew just who were the right people to advise him and took their advice. When I spoke to your own Prime Minister about the exchange value of the rupee, he said to me, that he knew nothing about exchange values, that the Prime Minister had of course to do things in his own name but had really to depend on experts. We have had experience in governing in the past and we could do equally well.’
I did not think it worthwhile to pursue the political topic or to point out the political chaos of India when the British entered on the scene, as my main object was to secure from Mr Gandhi the withdrawal of his statement about literacy. I ended up the interview by saying that I was a man of peace, and had no desire to enter on a controversy but that I must state the facts in the Journal of International Affairs, and to this I understood Mr Gandhi to assent. I wished him a pleasant journey back to India and said I hoped I had not tired him. He replied that it had been a real pleasure to see me, and that he hoped to keep in touch with me.
There were present during the conversation Mr Desai, a tall young man whose name I did not know, Miss Slade to whom I was introduced, but who was in a kind of back drawing room for most of the time, and another young Englishwoman, who brought Mr Gandhi some fruit at the end of the interview. No one intervened in the conversation, but once or twice Mr Gandhi asked Mr Desai for information. It appeared that Mr Desai had been asked by Mr Gandhi to try to get information from the British Museum, but that he had been unable to get the books he had wanted and had not been able to find any facts to support Mr Gandhi’s statements. Mr Desai accompanied me downstairs and showed me his British Museum slips for one book dated 1859, another book of 1867-8, and a book by Wilmot on “‘he Indigenous System of Education in India’, of which he had not the date.
I find I have omitted one statement of some importance. Mr Gandhi said that he had not accused the British Government of having destroyed the indigenous schools, but they had let them die for want of encouragement. I said that they had probably let them die because they were so bad that they were not worth keeping up. In the United Provinces Mahomedan witnesses had told my Committee that the Mahomedan schools not organised by Government were not an aid but a hindrance to Mahomedan progress and I knew there were many voluntary schools in other parts of the country of which this might be said. I told Mr Gandhi that my interest in primary education in India was no new thing; and that when as a member of the Sadler Commission I had seen Mr Montagu and Lord Chelmsford in 1918 I had told them both that although university reform was perhaps the most urgent matter, the problem of primary education was the fundamental one for India, although I could not advise on it then. I said that India had probably not yet found the solution of the problem of giving the agricultural labourer an education that would make him a more efficient cultivator without making him want to be a clerk, but that the Punjab, under the inspiration of the late Mr Richey whose work had been carried on by Sir George Anderson, had made great strides in the last ten or fifteen years. I described the system adopted in Punjab and Mr Gandhi said he had heard of recent progress in that province. I then told him that Bombay had probably the most efficient schools in some ways under the system initiated by Dr Paranjpye, but that the complete transfer of control to local bodies by his successor had unfortunate results, as so many district boards were more interested in politics than in education of which they knew very little.
I next told Mr Gandhi that I could not accept his suggestion that universal primary education must necessarily be very remote, and that my Committee had estimated than an additional recurring expenditure of about 19 crores would bring about 80 percent of boys and girls into the primary school system. Mr Gandhi then asked me if I thought that primary education would be much use unless the children went on to middle schools. I said that was the next step that would follow, and that I regarded the encouragement of vernacular middle schools as of the greatest importance not only for the sake of the children, but because they produce the primary teachers. I said that I was sorry that Bengal despised vernacular middle schools and insisted on English teaching middle schools.
We then spoke of girls’ education and I quoted the opinion of my Committee that in all schemes of expansion priority should be given to the claims of girls. Mr Gandhi said that he entirely agreed, but he asked himself whether primary education would make girls better mothers. Mr Gandhi said that he had not read the Report of my Committee. I asked him if he would like to do so on his journey back to which he said yes and I promised to send him a copy.
(These notes were dictated on December 2nd and December 4th)
2 December 1931
Dear Mr Thompson,
My apologies for not having acknowledged your kind letter of November 23rd with its references earlier. I was familiar with Adam’s Reports and Leitner, and with Howell from quotations. I have looked at Keay, and I’m afraid he doesn’t impress me. I will ask F.W. Thomas what he thinks of the book, but it all seems to me second-hand.
After going through your reference I am still in doubt as to whether the statement on p.255 of the ‘Reconstruction of India’ ‘Nevertheless there was more literacy if of a low kind, than until the last ten years’ is justifiable. You mention figures for Bombay schools and Bengal schools. But from my experience of Indian schools it is a far cry from attendance to literacy.
In the ten years 1917-27 with an increased enrolment of nearly 370,000 pupils in Bengal, the number in Class IV, where first you may expect permanent literacy, declined by 30,000. (See EDn Comtee of Simon Commission Report, p.59, including Table xxxiv).
I imagine from my reading of Adam, and Howell and Leitner—all pressing the claims of indigenous education—that this kind of thing is not new.
Did you notice in Long’s edition of Adam p.268 a quotation from a report of Mountstuart Elphinstone dated 25 October 1819 in which he says:
‘There are already schools (in the Deccan) in all towns and in many villages, but reading is confined to Brahmans, Banyans, and such of the agricultural classes as have to do with accounts.’
And Howell, p.7, in referring to Adam’s estimate that there were 100,000 schools in Bengal in 1835 and similar estimates in Madras and Bombay says ‘although all authorities were agreed that the existence of these schools was a satisfactory evidence of a general desire for education, there was equal unanimity that the instruction actually imparted in them was, owing partly to the utter incompetence of the teachers, the absence of all school books and appliances, and the early age at which the children were withdrawn, almost worthless.’
All the people I have quoted wanted Government to build up a system on the basis of the village schools. Adam gives some literacy figures which are worth examining in detail. I will look up the Census returns for the actual districts for which Adam has given figures.
Sd/- P.J. Hartog
. . .
Boars Hill, Oxford.
December 5, 1931
Dear Sir Philip Hartog,
I am really not clear as to what we are disputing about.
My statement is mild enough, moderate enough and its purpose is plain. I was obviously trying to go to the limits of concession that truth permitted, as to claims that I consider entirely wrong. That seems to me the only way to get a controversy forward. I never did believe in the method of belittling whatever case my opponent, whether British imperialist or Indian nationalist, may have. The context makes it clear that I have never thought that Indian schools amounted to much. It makes equally clear what I remember quite well was in my mind when I wrote that passage—this was that I do not agree with the steady crabbing of the last dozen years but to emphasise that on the whole they have been years far more progressive than any previous decade.
Of course—literacy and school attendance are not the same thing. They are not the same even now. But that is the realm of the imponderable and not worth arguing. If it comes to that, just now I rank mere literacy low enough. It seems to me we are in for a rotten ten years of struggle to keep any sort of decency alive. I may be overdepressed; but I saw the utter wash that the ‘literate’ populace of the United States read as their only gain from education, and I come back to this country to find that the weeklies are dying or recently dead, and that Daily Mail, Daily Express, and the infamous Sunday popular papers are about all the reading that Demos does. I believe the most popular weekly is ‘Competitions’, which guides the huge mob whose sole intellectual recreation (an absorbing and costly one) is making ‘bullets’ or cross-word puzzles (sending up six-pence a time). On the other hand, Akbar was ‘illiterate’.
There are in India poor folk who never went to any sort of school who have learnt to read. But these of course are few. They pay a few pice to be coached by some student. There must be more literacy in the sense of reading the vernaculars, than the numbers in schools indicate, or else how could every Bengal bazaar swarm with these frightfully printed (but cheap) texts of Ramprasad, Chandidas, Krittibas’s Ramayana (before the War, according to Dinesh Sen, two hundred thousand sold every year), even of Bhadu songs (which are sung only in two divisions)? Sarat Chatterjee told me that in 1921 the twelve annas edition of his fiction had brought him in twelve thousand rupees in royalties, which I estimate to be a sale of two hundred thousand. But the semi-religious texts swarm and always have done, irrespectively of the number in schools.
I will go into the matter when in India next spring. But my impression has steadily deepened that the first real advance we made—in most things—began about 1917. I do not think you will believe how stagnant officialdom was before the War. When I started in educational work in Bengal, the M.V. Schools used to pour an indescribably turbid stream into the fourth class of our high school—literate, if you like, but it would have been almost better if they were not. And the Education department was shocking. The acting Lieut. Governor was the notoriously inefficient Slack, and the D.P.I. the notoriously lazy Kuchler. I do not believe that a century ago there was widespread literacy. But neither do I believe that anything we ever did for education before about 1917 made any serious difference or improvement. We give ourselves many unjustified chits. But I will stand up for what we have done since the unfairly abused Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms.
Previous to 1917, what were the figures of literacy? Four or five per cent of the population? I believe they were higher a century ago. But the only way of proving this would be by finding out what sales in the very much smaller population of that day (though the first census was 1871, was it not?) were achieved for the popular classics.
Sd/- Edward Thompson
(IN HAND FOLLOWING TYPED LETTER)
P.S. ‘Banyan’ is a usual way of referring to ‘Banias’, in East India Company documents.
I have again read carefully through your letter. It seems to me that we are in agreement. Obviously we both think that (a) the literacy of a century ago amounted to very little to justify a song about it (b) that the average M.E. or M.C. schools of prewar days was a farce. We used to be asked continually to take over village ‘M.V.’ schools, with a failed Inter Arts or even failed Matric, as their head, and their students appalled me. Our own high school boys were bad enough but...I tell you what it is. The prewar administration of India in many ways was appalling. I know the difficulties. But tell me—what is it that has been wrong with Indian administration? I am reading old records by pre-Mutiny residents. They teem with information that makes you hope the Congresswall