A Revised and Enlarged Account of the Bobbili Zemindari/The Founder of The Samasthanam/VIII. Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao Bahadur Garu
Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao Bahadur Garu.
Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao was born on the 4th January, 1790, and was in his thirteenth year when he was adopted. His adoptive mother, Chinnamma Garu, a lady of the Kotagiri family, raised an objection to his adoption, which led to a voluminous correspondence between the Collector and the Government, but owing to the able representations made by his paternal uncle, Ravu Venkatarayadu Garu, his adoption was ultimately recognised by the Government. Great efforts were made at this time by the Pusapatis to get his country incorporated with Vizianagaram; but their prayer was rejected;* and he obtained from the Government a Permanent Cowle, or Sunnad-Mulk-et-Istimirar, dated 21st October, 1803. He formed many agraharams, established chattrams at Rajam and Bobbili, and did many other charitable acts. He dug several tanks, of which Rangaraya Sagaram is the largest.
The following account of an interview between the Rajah and Sir Thomas Munro is taken from the Minutes of Consultation of His Excellency. [Vide Selections from Minutes and other official writings of Major-General Sir Thomas Munro, Bart., K.C.B., by Sir A. J. Arbuthnot, page 188, para. 9).
"The Bobbili Raja met me at Suparnam, a large weaving village in his own zemindari. He came on his elephant, attended by his brother-in-law and another person employed in his service chiefly as a legal adviser, on account of his supposed knowledge of the Regulations. The Raja is an active, intelligent man, and manages and looks minutely into all his own affairs. He answered with great readiness every question I put to him on the state of his country. He said that it was divided into four parganas in three of which he collected his rents in money, and in the fourth in grain; that his settlements were made ryotwari, except in a few small villages, which were rented at a fixed sum to the heads of the village; that he gave every ryot a pottah specifying the amount of his land and his rent; that the rent was fixed, not varying with the seasons, though he frequently in bad seasons granted some remission to the poorer ryots; that the rent which he received in kind in one pargana was not a share of the crop, but a fixed quantity of grain from each ryot, according to the nature and extent of his land; and that he treated his ryots well, as was evident from none of them ever bringing complaints against him before the Court On my asking him how the state of cultivation in his country was at present, compared to what it had been when he succeeded to the zemindari, he said that there was very little increase because his country being entirely open had long been all cultivated, except what it was necessary to leave waste for pastures, and that, therefore, almost the only increase that had arisen was from his having repaired some tanks and got better crops from them. The Collector seemed to think that terror was the cause, rather than fair dealing, of there being no complaint against the Raja. He is rigorous in exacting his clues; but I believe that he is just on the whole, and that were he otherwise, fear would not suppress all complaints in a zemindari so accessible and so defenceless. I had none, and his villages appeared to be populous and thriving. I must, however, make one exception to this favourable account of him, for I have reason to believe that he, as well as many other Zemindars, has resumed Inams without authority." In the year 1821, Rajah Rayadappa received the following communication from the then Collector and Agent to the Governor of Madras : —
"To Rajah Saheb Meharbax Dostan Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao Bahadur.
"For your information, we have herewith enclosed an abstract of the Regulations now in the course of preparation. The chief object of these Regulations is to guarantee to the holders of the ancient zemindaries the permanent enjoyment of the estates and of the customary privileges in vogue in their estates, and thereby to enable them to maintain their ancient prestige.
"You are aware of the contingent consequences of the present bad system of manage- ment prevailing in the zemindaries. Towards the clearance of the Zemindars' debts, and owing to other irregular ways of managing the estates, they are sold away and are for ever alienated from the families of the Zemindars.
"Therefore you had best consider the advantages that shall accrue to you from the passing of the aforesaid Regulations, which shall invalidate any alienation of the Samasthanam from your family in favour of others, except in the three following cases : —
"1. When you justly transfer your estate to another party with the previous consent of the Government obtained.
"2 & 3. When you forfeit it as a penalty for your violation of the stipulations of the agreement executed and submitted by you to the Government, or for the transgression of the orders of the Government.
"If you should, desirous of obtaining the above mentioned advantages, agree to give up the rights that you have in virtue of the Sunnad-Mulk-et-Istimirar (Permanent Cowle), of alienating your Samasthanam to others by sale, by a free gift, or in any other manner, you had better intimate the same to us by means of a written petition.
"Those Zemindars who thus represent, in a written form, their willingness to give up their rights of alienation, will never be deprived of the advantages promised to them; nor shall a summons be ever issued for their attendance in person in any court of justice without the sanction of the Government being previously obtained. It has also been decided that those ancient Zemindars, who comply with the conditions above referred to, should be entrusted with the administration of the police in their zemindaries; and sanction will be granted to them to conduct the police work by their own men in accordance with the custom in practice in their districts. "In these Regulations a new system is proposed with reference to the collection of Motarpha (professional) tax. It is under contemplation that, after due consideration of all matters connected with Motarpha in the light of the proposed system, the collection of the tax should be made either on behalf of the Government or on behalf of the Zemindars, according as the one or the other may appear more reasonable.
"You are requested to furnish us with a decisive reply, stating what you think of the advantages offered to you by the new Regulations and whether you desire them.
"Replies are also invited to the following questions :--
" 1. When did your ancestors acquire your Samasthanam?
"2. What custom prevails in your family in the matter of succession to the zemindari? "3. Is it binding or not on the eldest son (in case the custom of primogeniture prevails in your estate) to maintain the other members of the family?
"4. Was the zemindari ever divided at the time of the partition of the other family property?
"5. Is there any such custom in your family?
"6. If such a partition had ever taken place, what were the chief causes that led to it, and with whose sanction was the partition made?
15th December, 182 1. Collector's Cutchery, VlZIANAGARAM.
(Signed) J. SMITH, Collector."
"To Meharban Dostan John Smith, Esq., Collector, Vizagapatam District.
"From the abstract of the Regulations you have sent us with your letter dated the 15th December 1821, we have made out that, provided we relinquish the rights which we have in virtue of the para. 7 of the Permanent Cowle, the Government intend to make our Samasthanam for ever inalienable from our family.
"Though, by agreeing to the proposal, we should make ourselves subject to such inconveniences as the disability to procure debts when necessary, we who are inclined to think that the Zemindars, loyally acting up to the wishes of the Government, are sure of being helped by God, fully desire to be placed in enjoyment of the benefits meant to be conferred upon us through the proposed Regulations, and shall voluntarily relinquish our authority to alienate our Samasthanam in favour of any party. We are not, however, at present prepared to submit a written petition to that effect for the reasons hereinafter to be mentioned with due respect.
"Though we should consent to renounce our right of alienating the Samasthanam, one other disadvantage to us from the new Regulations is, that nowhere therein is it explicit that His Excellency the Governor-in-Council has decided to continue to keep the collection of Motarpha tax in our hands, and that, on the other hand, the question as to who is to be entrusted with that work is yet to be decided. If, in accordance with the Proceedings dated 7th August 1820, and issued to you by the Honorable the Revenue Board, the Government should arrange to give us compensation for the amount of the Motarpha tax, and then have its collection made by their own servants on their own behalf, it should entail on us a great loss for the reasons mentioned below. Many of the persons who pay Motarpha tax have built houses on Jeroyiti lands, for which we pay revenue to the Government. Partly in the form of loans and partly in the form of free help, we have given large sums of money to the Motarpha-paying ryots to enable them to build houses whether on their old sites or on the Jeroyiti lands, and also to carry on operations of trade.
"Many of these ryots have, moreover, taken loans from us and cultivate our Jeroyiti. If the collection of the Motarpha be now taken off our hands, the last mentioned would leave off the cultivation of our Jeroyiti.
"As both the ryots paying Motarpha and the tenants cultivating the Jeroyiti lands, for which we pay rent to the Government, are at present within our jurisdiction, the former give loans to the latter under the assurance that with our help the loans can be, without any difficulty, recovered. If the ryots be now placed beyond our control, they will discontinue giving loans to the Jeroyiti tenants. This will greatly hinder the payment of the revenue by the latter.
"If the Government, although they should thereby subject us to a variety of losses, should contemplate the removal, from our hands, of the collection of the Motarpha— a tax that was included in the permanent assessment and not excluded from the operation of the stipulations of the Permanent Cowle bestowed upon us by the Government, how can we have any faith that the Government would keep the promised advantages in our permanent enjoyment? You have informed us that, on our submitting a written document expressing our willingness to resign our rights of alienating our Samasthanam, the Govern- ment would entitle us to the promised privileges and advantages by passing the proposed Regulations. But as it has come within our experience that many Regulations long in force are amended and repealed by new ones, we cannot have sufficient assurance that the rights to which we should become entitled through the said Regulations would be kept in our permanent enjoyment.
"Having considered all the aforesaid circumstances, we beg to submit our request in the following lines : —
"If the Government should be pleased to keep under our control the collection of the Motarpha revenue in accordance with the custom till now in vogue, and if they should also graciously condescend to execute in our favour a document binding themselves to keep, in our permanent enjoyment, the advantages now offered through the proposed Regulations, we shall then submit the required written petition stating that we resign the rights to transfer our Samasthanam to another party, whether by sale, by a free gift, or by any other mode of alienation, the rights that we now enjoy in virtue of the Sunnad-Mulk-et-Istimirar.
"We shall also humbly submit, for the information of the Government, some details with regard to our estate such as the time of its acquisition.
"The ancestor from whom we trace our lineage is Sarvagnya Singamulu. In generous recognition of the signal services rendered by his grandson,* Dharma Rayanin Garu, the Nawab of Haidarabad, who was at that time the supreme ruler of the country, conferred on the latter the Samasthanam of Bobbili together with such fitting Royal Insignia as the White Flag, the Dhanka and the Naubath, besides many titles of honour. In the matter of succession to the estate, the custom of primogeniture has been observed in our family. Our Samasthanam has never been divided. It is customary in our family that the eldest son is bound to maintain all those of its other members that have, at their heart, the interest of the Samasthanam. The other sons of the Zemindar have equal rights with the eldest son in respect of all the property of the family, the Samasthanam and its fitting equipages excepted.
"For your information we have represented all these matters, and we request you will send this letter of ours to the Governor-in-Council with your favourable recommendation thereon endorsed.
Saturday, the 5th of the second Lunar Fortnight in Pushya of VrusJia.
(Signed) RAJAH RAYADAPPA RANGA-RAO, Rajah of Bobbilz." Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao began building the local temple of Sree Venugopalaswamy, but died before it was finished. The estate of Wungarada and the village of Yambannavalsa were purchased in his time. He married three wives, of whom two were married under unique circumstances. He was first betrothed to a lady in Sitanagaram of the Chelikani family, but before completing the marriage he changed his mind and was betrothed to a lady, in Terlam, of the Inuganti family. On the evening before the night of the marriage, the father and brothers of the former betrothed lady brought her in a palanquin to the palace gate, where they halted and stood with drawn swords on either side of the conveyance. Then they sent in word to the Rajah to the effect that, if he did not consent to marry their child, they had determined to put an end, not only to her life, but also to their own lives, at the very front of the gateway. Thereupon, the Rajah, thinking that, if he refused to marry her, they would be sure to carry out their threats, called them into the palace and consented to marry the lady first betrothed to him, along with his second betrothed. This proposal was accepted, subject to the condition that the sacred ribbon (Mangala-Sutram) should first be tied on the lady first betrothed, and to this the Rajah consented. At the marriage the Rajah stood in the middle with his first and next betrothed to the right and left respectively, and then tied the sacred ribbon in the same order. Thus, in those old days, the father of the former succeeded in fully carrying out his desire. Fortunately the first wife, Chellayyamma Garu, gave birth to a good family of four sons and five daughters, and the second, Butcheyyamma Garu, only to a single daughter. After many years of a happy married life, the second Rani expired, and then the Rajah married a lady, Lakshminarasayyamma Garu, of Vavilavalsa Inuganti family. She lived for about 90 years and died in 1899. This old lady was very virtuous and orthodox in her religion. Her life was one which few would probably be able to beat. She lived to see her grand-son's grand-son. Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao Bahadur Garu died on the 17th January 1830, leaving behind him four sons and six daughters. His sons were Rajah Sweta Chalapati Ranga-Rao, the eldest, Rajah Janardana Ranga-Rao, the. second, Rajah Sitaramachandra Ranga-Rao, the third, and Rajah Venkata Ranga-Rao, the fourth.
- * Vide Carmichael's Manual.
- * Under the heading "The Founder of the Samasthanam" it was shown that Dharma Rayanin Garu could not be the founder of the zemindari.