The Emergence of an Indigenous Business Class in Maharashtra in the Eighteenth Century Author(s): V. D.

Divekar Source: Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3 (1982), pp. 427-443 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 07/04/2011 11:17
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The rise and growth of the new class of savakars did not. say. For its fortunes. Also Brahman savakars did not form any separate trading community of their own. members of other castes were also there among them. like. Part II discusses the dominance of Brahman savakars in the newly emerged business class. Vanis. Banias in Gujarat or Chettis in Tamil Nadu. in western India. Part I describes and analyses the emergence of an indigenous business class in Maharashtra. the new class of savakars depended mostly on the prevailing political situation and failed to lay sound industrial and commercial foundations for its survival and prosperity independent of the vagaries of politics. One of its significant outcomes was the emergence of a new class of substantial indigenous savakars and businessmen. D. Printedin GreatBritain. or Vatan-holding moneylenders who operated everywhere in Maharashtra on a small scale. during the Peshwa times. pp. however. Warfinance It was mainly the Maratha system of war finance and advance collection oo26-749X/82/o506-o208$o2. They were unlike the traditional Shetes. TheEmergence An Indigenous of Business Classin Maharashtrain the EighteenthCentury V. within the larger organization of the Brahman community. i6.oo ? 1982 Cambridge University Press. Developments in the Eighteenth Century In the eighteenth century there came about a great change in the political situation in Maharashtra.Pune THE present paper is divided into three parts. Part III presents an overview and states general observations relating to the subject. Mahajans. 427 . I.Asian Modern Studies. Although Brahmans predominated in the new class of savakars. 3 (1982). and its position under early British rule. result in the formation of a separate specialized business caste or community. DIVEKAR GokhaleInstituteof Politics and Economics. 427-443.

1969). Nevertheless.' Information relating to such loans is available also in the account books of several bankers who gradually thrived on this business. 2 N. nos 53.428 V. Poona Univ. I906-I I). But it appears from the historical records that the realization of tributes was. I94. Chapekar. the tribute for that year would not be realized. Selections from the Peshwa Daftar. pp. whereas the tribute realized was only about three million rupees. . or always commensurate with the huge expenses of the military expedition involved. tributes. 9 vols (Poona. The knowledge about the system and its modus operandi. PeshwaaichyaaSaavaleet (Poona. Apte. C. were required to be raised often at high rates of interest by Marathi chieftains for paying the wages of their soldiers. Sardesai (ed. o103 and Vol. whatever happened to the realization of the tributes.therefore. not easy. 'SarakaareeAayavyaya'. p. Vol. I763-73 (Unpublished thesis. and that was to amass revenue and wealth from outside territories in the form of chauthai. This they did with the political motive of expanding the boundaries of their respective territories.).. would be useful for the proper understanding of the subject. D. In the main this made the Peshwas and their Sardars turn to the moneylenders for loans. only five states paid their tributes regularly for four or five years.2 Marathas subjugated different territories and levied tributes on them. In the eighteenth century. records are available relating to Karnatak expeditions by the Peshwa government undertaken during the 176os. IOO. 55. ransom. 71-8. the expenses of the army had to be incurred. In the case of one of these expeditions we find that the amount of expenses relating to the expedition went up to the tune of ten million rupees. 9. For example. The political-military situation in eighteenth-century India was such that if the army was not sent even for one year. etc. in the Pune Archives. 8o (henceforth referred to as SPD). DIVEKAR of revenue through loans which created the conditions for the emergence of the new business class. But there was also another equally important economic motive behind their military expeditions. G. Vad (ed. D.). see also G. In the records of the Peshwa Daftar one comes across a large number of documents throwing light on how huge amounts of loans. running into several lakhs of rupees. 67. in many cases. 2I no. 232 (henceforth referred to as SSRPD). Vol. dependable. 1937). the Peshwas and other Marathi sardars ceaselessly organized army expeditions in different parts of India. 20. booty. Selections from the Satara Raja's and the Peshwa's Diaries. 97. P. 3 M. 46 vols (Bombay. 1 G. i934). Thus the process of collection of tributes was neither smooth nor on each occasion economical.3 In the decade between 1763 and 1773 when the Peshwas had agreements with about thirty big and small subjugated states for receiving tributes from each of them. S.

and moneylender to the Peshwa government. At Poona. one knows how they were 'harassed' by their creditors or the creditors' agents. whenever occasions of booty. was thus harassedin 1746 by his creditors. N. SPD. no. the subhadari rights. the administrativerights of five villages. 46. provided necessary additional loans to the army chieftains by contacting businessmen of nearby places.7 Janoji's father. 20. the Mamlat rights. prior to 1759. In recognition of his various timely services Morshet's son. In this context it would be useful to understand the financial aspects of Marathi military campaigns. ransom. Joshi. from the days of S. No. by way of example. etc. From the available letters of army chieftains written from their camps.000. 44.4 The creditor. the Peshwa at Poona and also at army encampments during military campaigns. He was later given the charge of the Subha of Ahmedabad. Vaidya not only recovered his loan of Rs 1.and one among them. or their agents. 1960). as a result of their service rendered to the government. Vol. Raghuji Bhosale. for the recovery of their dues. the Shetepan rights. Vishwanathbhat Vaidya. the business family of Karje secured for itself the Saranjam rights. a big bazaar was held at the place. a practice developed whereby the chief of the marching army took bankers and traders. Thus. etc.. Dhanshet. He was thereupon appointed as the Shete of that ward with rights of collection of excise duties in that ward. arose. accompanying the expedition tried to recover the loan whenever possible. 5 6 SPD. under royal patronage his sphere of business activities widened.000 but also got away with presentsworth Rs 25.25. and was also given the charge of revenue administration of several towns and villages in Maharashtra. got his account settled. Janoji Bhosale's case is a typical one. 12-13. was granted Saranjam rights from the government. In addition to this. 7 SPD. a banker. Out of the three lakhs of rupees that Raghuji got as ransom by releasing the son ofJanakiram held earlier as a hostage. Let us briefly mention here. By supplying goods and advancing loans he served the King at Satara. the family history of one Morshet Karje. pp. or his agent. Dhanshet was assigned the work of establishing a market ward called Mangalwar Peth. along with their successes in business proper.6 Morshet Karje was a local trader at Satara having business contacts with the royal household there. on the credit of their own hundis. Vol. Vol. 103. with him during the expedition. had raised a loan to the tune of Rs 40 lakhs for the Bijanagar campaign. Soon. MaraathekaaleenSamaajdarshan(Poona. and in addition to that. .AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 429 Out of necessity. The accompanying bankers. As the moving army halted and encamped on the way.5 The peculiar relationship that came to be developed between the chieftain and his financier made both of them dependent on each other. for example. 20.

000 each. S. a loan of about one million rupees was received by the government from fourteen savakars. therefore. However. and from one among them the Peshwa received a loan of Rs 2. 120-5. On one particular date. can hardly stand any comparison with such great business houses outside Maharashtra as those of Viraji Vora. one of them advanced only Rs 4. Unfortunately for Janoji. DIVEKAR Savanur affairs. an official at the Peshwa court. and due to the urgency of the situation. Bendre (ed. I. Even the richest among them. Jagat Seth and others. for the armies. On another date. etc. again and again. Janoji had also to pay to the Peshwa his usual dues. The usual amount advanced at a time by an average savakar was about 20 to 50 thousand rupees. Ravaji Apaji. Janoji's example serves as a typical case of the military adventurism and the loan-raising activities it involved in eighteenth-century Maharashtra. on the other. etc.000. four of them advanced only Rs 3. for Govindarao Gaikwad's warlike activities in I760s relating to securing the Sardarship of Baroda. His role in raising loans and required material like cloth. Such small loans suggest a special collection drive for war funds for the battle of Panipat. one of the available lists of savakars who advanced loans to the government includes sixty names. Information about his activities in this regard is narrated in detail in a contemporary family bakhar. Even the big moneylenders among them were not big enough to advance generally more than one or two hundred thousand rupees at a time. alias BaskarJyoti Phanase. It was also in these circumstances that there emerged a new class of middlemen proficient in the work of organizing the required amount of loans. There were attacks on Janoji's territories by the Nizam.). No record of the Peshwa government receiving as much as five lakhs of rupees from any one single savakar at a time is available.8 In the year I760-6 I. the money spent on the army was also each. against his step-brother Fattesingrao. and money had also to be spent on the army to repel the attacks. Bakhar Anant Phanase in vamshaachee MaharashtratePrayag hyanchya hisaacheeSaadhane 3 vols (Bombay. They worked as liaison agents between the chief on the one hand and savakars. pp. provisons. D. Six of them adianced a meagre loan of Rs 5. 'Rabilakhar 9'. for four years. traders. saddles. horses. he lost the territories. 'Jamadilakhar 29'. a loan of another million rupees was received from fifty savakars. the year of the great battle of Panipat. serves as a typical example of the activities of such middlemen. fresh loans were raised. as the army had to be maintained as before. was one such middleman. and therefore. . they had to be raised at high rates of interest. army loans were required to be raised. 1966-67).430 V. etc.000 only. vol. 8 V.

274: collection of arrears (about 15 per cent). (4) Rs 2.390: cloth on credit. (2) Rs I I.e. 10 " SSRPD. . moneylending came to be carried on by a large number of savakars throughout the region. From the above it will be seen that in the year 1763-64.09.675: loans from savakars.26. pp. (3) Rs 23. even for routine governmental activities.57. Ibid. (3) Rs 10. individual 9 Apte. This repayment was effected through the following sources: (I) Rs 24.9 for example. It appears that to tide over the situations of urgent needs. During the same year. (2) Rs 34. we find that the Peshwa government was in receipt of loans worth about one crore rupees from different sources: (i) Rs 15. 'Sarakaaree Aayavyaya'." Thus. or ledgers. 7. thirty-four per cent of the amount that was used for paying off the earlier loans was raised by contracting fresh loans.1o the Peshwa government repaid their previous loans to the tune of little more than seventy lakhs of rupees: Rs 26 lakhs were repaid for earlier years' loans. They were required to remit the estimated amount for their respective regions in the treasury in advance. Details contained in accounts of receipts and expenditures in the tarjumas are helpful for understanding the processes of state financing of the Marathas and their methods of raising and repayment of loans. 1763-64. the government often raised loans for short or long durations.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 431 Revenuecollectionand loans The work of collection of revenue was entrusted to kamavisdars. money was urgently needed and loans were raised from the savakars. I I7. p. and in order to repay the earlier loans. p. it had to go in for fresh loans again. Under such circumstances it is no wonder if the position of the savakars was strengthened.315: excess collection from mahals.I33: amount collected at the time of appointment of darakdars (about 3 per cent).48. it led gradually to the increase in the number of savakars in the money market.. 306.67.533: revenues from the mahals (about 49 per cent). While some of them were petty.28. 152-4. in anticipation of future collection.873: loans in the form of advance receipts from kamavisdars and darakdars. Often. In the Pune Archives are available annual consolidated accounts of the Maratha state in the form of tarjumas drawn and arranged departmentwise on the basis of entries in the Ghadani Daftar.53. i. According to the tarjuma of the year I763-64. (5) Rs 28. and Rs 44 lakhs for the loans of the previous year. As the number of loan transactions increased.624: fresh loans from the savakars (about 34 per cent). (4) Rs 15.220: goods received on credit. Vol.17.30.

etc. D. Shrirangapatan. Bundelkhand. for example. A hundi issued by the government was termed a varait. stored. Transactions in commodities. The Peshwa government collected its revenue both in cash and commodities.12 Revenue and other collections of distant regions under the control of the Marathas often reached Poona through a chain of hundi-dealers. or passed through. The government itself. 25. Peshwaaichyaa Saavaleet. Gradually. Poona in the eighteenth century. called ainjinsi. Aurangabad and Ujjain. were entered into annual tarjumas in detail. military captains. pp. Konkan. One of the chief causes for the spread of the business in hundi transactions was the constant need for money for the purposes of war coupled with the insecure conditions everywhere for sending it in cash. etc. If the amount required was large enough. This was provided by the savakars by advancing short-term loans. Commodities were required by the government for 12 13 Ibid. as an employer. Poona. see ibid. and the final loan transaction was made through a leading savakar among them. It also paid partly in commodities the wages of its employees. especially those serving on forts. DIVEKAR savakars and operated on a small scale. we find accounts of hundis of Paithan. Kashi. 26. Chapekar.13 A large number of hundis came to. others developed themselves into flourishing banking houses. Hundi transactions As a result of the widening of the network of their business. as also the noblemen. But the names of the sub-savakars always appeared in all account papers. or sold commodities at different times.432 V. constantly needed money for carrying on their activities. administrative officials. as a revenue collector. It purchased. the government entered into the commodities market in a big way in different parts of its territories. p. This reason is stated specifically in the account papers of Tulsibagwale. hundi transactions covering most parts of India came to be carried on by Marathi savakars.. Bombay.. Poona appears to have emerged as an important market in hundis where they were sold and purchased by a large number of brokers at discount. etc. In the account papers of Tulsibagwale. p. 134-6. three or four savakars pooled their money. Thus. Nibadi.. 14 For examples. . as a state-trader."4 State trading. Satara.

289. the Peshwas. purchasing of other commodities. cloth worth Rs 20. No. Interestingly. It appears from the available documents'5 that the government.342 were purchased on credit by the government. During the same year (1763-64) other articles worth Rs 32. Big and small savakars sold cloth on a cash or credit basis to the government. etc. In the year I763-6416 different kinds of cloth (details of which are available) worth Rs 59. they were mostly used for: payment of wages. pp. domestic use of the Peshwas. During the year 1768-69. p. Vol.860 were purchased by the government by making payments in cash. Surat. Karnatak. 748. as is evident from the yearly tarjumas. Foodgrains and cloth constituted major items for any year. foodgrains and other items. bought fine cloth and clothes. Cloth market Cloth was used very sparingly by ordinary people. such as feasts and festivals. Bengal. 'SarakaareeAayavyaya'.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 433 various purposes. 23. 2. religious requirements. io6.732. In the order of their appearance in the tarjumas and their values. rewards. p. giving as prizes. Delhi.07. Substantial savakars like Kabaras and Paranjape who advanced large amounts of money loans to the government were also the principal suppliers of cloth. From the available records it is evident that a large number of traders dealing in varieties of cloth. Many of them were also moneylenders and lent large sums of money to the Peshwa government on different occasions. Vol.15.794. 139- . Also. SPD. fine cloth was always in great demand by the King. 15 SSRPD. diplomatic protocol. 16 Ghadani Daftar Rumal. Paranjape supplied to the government cloth worth Rs 54. repayment of loan or commodities bought on credit. often with detailed specification on a number of occasions from different specialized and reputed centres in India like Paithan. Vol. the noblemen and other rich people both for their own use and also for giving as presents to others on a number of occasions. no. presents.515 and so on. But the government needed cloth for various purposes. etc. Kabaras. Khandesh. etc. 7. and cloth worth Rs 2. customs. Apte. especially menfolk. carried on their business on a large scale in the Poona region in the eighteenth century. cloth worth Rs 32. there were also many petty purchases of cloth on credit with some other dealers by the Peshwa government. 147-57. Shivaram Naik Bhide. through their agents. Sirohi.312 was purchased on credit from different savakars.

Non-Maharashtrian business communities from Gujarat and Marwad. builders. profited greatly by the availability of a well-developed financial infrastructure. it was not utilized by . Hence the collection of money in the hands of Marathi savakars and banking houses did not prove to be very suitable for commercial or industrial ventures. reasons. the European traders had started establishing their own trading interests in the eighteenth century. DIVEKAR The import trade in fine cloth and clothes deserves serious consideration. They. and also in spite of there being a large number of indigenous savakars in the city. with a network of banking and financial institutions. European traders who went there for trading. In spite of Poona being a capital and populous city of the Peshwas. it did not attract European trading interests. Also. there already had existed in such regions a sophisticated financial market to cater for local business interests. created a financial superstructure resembling outwardly the one existing in advanced industrial or commercial regions. remained to be fully and properly made use of for commercial and industrial purposes by the Marathas themselves. the banking infrastructure and sophisticated financial system of the Marathas that had come into existence in the eighteenth century. had its origin mainly in the system of their war economy and the administrative system of their public finance. too. owing essentially to political. and there being constant demand for fine cloth and clothes of various sorts. In such regions. The collections of money with the savakars and the additions of interest-amounts to them were no more than the accumulation and reaccumulation of money giving rise to some sort of primitive wealth. an indigenous sophisticated financial market. who migrated to Poona in the second half of the eighteenth century had their own financial and banking arrangements in developed form.. Limitationsof thefinancial system The Marathas' financial infrastructure of the eighteenth century. no fine cloth industry originated and flourished in Poona. not commercial. contractors. with the rise and expansion of Maratha political power a number of avenues were opened for local artisans. However. In Maharashtra there had come into existence.434 V. etc. for example. had therefore no great need to depend on Marathi financiers for their business activities. The agencies of savakars and the government with their brisk financial activities. D. as stated above. However. Thus. along with moneylenders and traders. like Surat.

The contemporary English statesmen of the East India Company like Sir Charles Malet. had only one important function to perform and that was to collect the annual revenue of chauthai. however. they were not successful in establishing properly administered governments in the respective regions. A question is sometimes raised: if an indigenous business class had really come into existence in Maharashtra owing to political exigencies at home during this period. The European traders and rulers. Secondly. It was a universal phenomenon with revolutionary possibilities. sardeshmukhi and khandani (tributes) from the conquered and subjugated territories by resorting to force almost each time. on the other hand. and their military centres. But to them its possession was mainly useful as a source of fixed sum of chauth and khandani. The Marathi savakars generally stuck throughout to their main business of moneylending at home and hardly evinced. why did it not then spread out with the spread of political power? While attempting to answer this question one has to bear in mind the nature of Maratha political expansion. together. had ushered in a new era of colonialism. Therefore. and the expected consequential expansion of their foreign commerce can hardly be compared with a novel phenomenon of expansion of European trade with political support. as a class. thanks to the Marathas themselves. In fact. So also were the traders of other European East Indian Companies who followed the Portuguese. The Portuguese traders who landed in India at the end of the fifteenth century were a state or quasi-state body. including fertile and industrial regions like Gujarat and Karnatak. obviously. any interest in pushing the trading activities in the conquered and subjugated regions. And. Although the Maratha armies had spread to different parts of India. The expansion of political power. the expansion of Maratha political power. were far ahead of the Marathas in . Maratha political power had spread to different parts of India. Peshwa and Gaikwad had conquered Gujarat. and the so-called states established by them in outside territories.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 435 traders of other commercial regions like Gujarat. in the conquered and subjugated territories. the political situation that had prevailed inside Maharashtra cannot be equated with the one of turmoil that had existed. was hardly taken advantage of by the newly emerged class of Marathi savakars for furthering their business interests in such outside territories. the Maratha traders and rulers were too far behind the Europeans in this respect. nor by Europeans. the Maratha armies themselves were often predatory in nature. Ultimately. it almost withered away with the fall of Maratha rule.

256-7. ibid.18 Savakars who had advanced loans to army chiefs in pre-British days for the purpose of recruiting Maratha armies were the great losers as they were made to write off the bad debts as a result of British policy in this regard. the trading and moneylending opportunites of the Marathi savakars dwindled fast.. Under alien rule Under their own rule the trade and employment of the indigenous population of Maharashtra were in a flourishing condition. 20 p. the Marathas surrendered to the forces of the East India Company and lost their independence to the British power. Deputy Agent. in the newly emerged business class in Maharashtra in the eighteenth century. both numerically and in their money power. 8. Report. D. observed: 'The situation of the lower order was very comfortable. 268. 19 Cf. p. the two savakars. 124-5. Vasudev Bapuji and Krishnaji Hari Chiplonkar.436 V. we come across names of businessmen belonging to Elphinstone. and the stopping of all warlike activities. in his Report on the TerritoriesConquered from the Paishwa (1821). There was abundance of employment in the domestic establishment and foreign conquest of the nation. In the available lists of savakars and merchants of Poona of the eighteenth century. But in 1818. 1877 reprint). Peshwaaichyaa Saavaleet. DIVEKAR considering the possession of Gujarat territories as a commercial proposition. Chaplin in his Report (1822) observed that the condition of the savakars had much deteriorated 'it being computed that not two-thirds of their former capital are now employed in banking and speculation'. Io8.'9 A number of documents available in the family records of the Poona savakars indicate vividly their deteriorated condition after the defeat of Maratha rule. p. 1821). the first Deccan Commissioner of the British government. Reporton the Territories Conquered from the Paishwa (Calcutta.20 II. Very shortly after the defeat of the Marathas. pp. Elphinstone. in Chapekar. 17 Mountstuart . in the case of Sardar Ramchandra Pandurang Dhamadhere v.'17 With the loss of political power. 18 Chaplin. the ruling given on 2June 1832 byJohn Warden. Deccan. The Dominance of Brahmans in Business It was the Brahmans who were dominant. August 1822 (Bombay. 20 Cf. and that of the upper class prosperous.

As landowners. This suggests that up to 1773. moneylenders. contained 71 names out of which 55 were Brahmans and 35 appear to be Chitpavans. until the beginning of the eighteenth century. administrators and religious leaders they held a predominant position in society. Chhabildas Burhanpur and Madhavadas Godidas. Gadre. Incidentally. apart from scholars and priests. There were some merchants from other Marathi castes like Maratha. included the families of Raste. Joshi. 229. Gadgil. Tambavekar. 21 SPD. furthermore. viz. clerks. judges. Oak. Sonar (Goldsmith). the Peshwas themselves. Gosawi etc. Bhokare. we find that members of the Brahman community. Thatte. Anagal. Datar. Damle. And. For example. again. the Deshasthas. Moghe. the list contains only two apparently Gujarati names. who were rulers and army generals are never known to have felt embarrassed about marrying girls from priestly or business families. The Brahman caste enjoyed in the eighteenth century the topmost position in Maharashtrian society. and a majority of them were Brahmans. Karje. Vol. moneylenders. soldiers. businessmen. that is. in their daily life generally observed religious rituals as laid down for them by the scriptures and customs. Omkar etc. And in innumerable instances we find that Brahmans following different occupations did intermarry. as the Peshwas belonged to the Chitpavar sub-caste.21 for example. including Peshwas and other Brahman sardars. There were among them. No religious or caste question is known to have come in the way of their occupational mobility. including the Peshwas' Diaries. messengers. Biwalkar. and among them the Chitpavans. Bhide. Among the Brahmans. well-known ministers.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 437 different castes and communities in Maharashtra. who were the earlier settlers in the region.. Gune. This situation prevailed until the rise of the Peshwas. and also agriculturists. 22. Patwardhan. . appear to be predominant in the field. A list of cloth merchants of Poona market drawn up on 24 February 1773. The fact that the Peshwas themselves were Brahmans was one of the most important reasons for this development. administrators. watermen. Gosawi. held a superior position as compared to Brahmans of other sub-castes. no. doctors. Vaidya. But they followed a wide-ranging variety of professions. cooks. etc. Dikshit-Patwardhan. the merchants of the Poona cloth market were almost all Maharashtrians. and in large amounts. Brahmans of that sub-caste dominated in different walks of life. From the historical records. The savakars who frequently advanced loans to the government. Brahmans.

Peshawekaaleen Maharashtra (New Delhi. D. Chitpavan Brahmans also received special consideration in the recruitment for administrative posts. Poona). who founded the state of Sangli. King Shahu. 24 Ibid. PP. generals and rulers themselves. In his later life he became a politician and a diplomat. 201-7. The following is a gist of the relevant material from his autobiographical account. however. 3.22 Many of the priestly Brahmans received from rich people large amounts of presents both in cash and kind on various occasions. in that the Peshwas were not just administrators. the monopoly of the Deshastha Brahmans in administrative and other fields began to decline. 1976 reprint). utilized the large amount of money thus accumulated with them for the purposes of moneylending. for example. their own style of living being very simple and frugal. ibid. I pp.500 in Maharashtra. etc. Advancing money for administrative or war purposes involved great risks. Only those who had close contacts with the administration or collection of revenue or those who had influence or good relations with the army chiefs could take such risks. etc.Vol. and slowly the Chitpavan Brahmans came to occupy in society the dominant position held for a long time by the Deshasthas. a camel. Vol.. but were policy-makers. . 3. With them a large number of Brahmans held top positions in a strong and expanding political power in India in the eighteenth century. Bhave. DIVEKAR With the rise of the Peshwas. Vol. K. From the Peshwa government records we find that proportionately an overwhelming number of clerks in the Central Secretariat at Poona were also Chitpavan Brahmans. for 1797-98.438 V.25 When I was eight years old I worked as a clerk in the Peshwa secretariat at Poona in the section dealing with the matters relating to Karnataka 22 23 25 For the year I76o-61. especially the Chitpavans. who belonged to a priestly Chitpavan Brahman family of the later eighteenth century. 7. We may mention in this context the case of Gangadharshastri Patwardhan. Through their close caste and family connections with the Peshwas. was originally only a family priest..23 It may be mentioned here that in I719-20. for 1763-64. as presents. for example. 5. pp. the price of an elephant was above Rs 5. no. pp. two horses. I115-9. ibid. two buffaloes. A member of the Patwardhan family. a large number of middling Chitpavan families soon rose to prominence in various fields. deerskins. 373-5. Vol. 17-41. With the rise of the Peshwas there was also a qualitative change in the status of the Brahmans. PP. 294-5Traimasik (QuarterlyJournal of the Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal. V. on a particular day gave away for the health of his ailing wife.24 Some of the priestly Brahmans. see SSRPD. an elephant. Thus. several cows.

000 to Angria. some of the loans advanced by the Swami 100. Dada Gadre was forced to agree to pay six lakhs of rupees. for which I was not required to pay any interest. and a religious leader. Rs 10. about twenty thousand rupees of Prabhakar Ballal Joshi [another Chitpavan Brahman] used to remain with me for which I paid to him interest at the rate of half per cent per month only. This rather long extract from Gangadharshastri's autobiographical account shows how the business of moneylending thrived. For the preliminarycash transactionin this regard I advanced for Dada Gadre a cash of sixteen thousand rupees at the rate of five per cent as 'Manoti' amount plus eight per cent as interest. Nimbaji Bhaskarwas managing the revenue administration of Surat. namely Brahmendraswami of Dhavadshi (1649-1 745). My loan advanced through Roopchand (Roopram) Marwadi to the Peshwa was later returned to me according to the terms of our agreement. [details are given]. The Swami was a Deshastha Brahman. Also. I advanced to him two thousand rupees. but also priestly Brahmans and even some religious leaders to profit by entering into moneylending and other business activities. He developed a keen personal interest in business and moneylending activities. in the prevailing political situation in Maharashtra. Sometime afterwardsin a similar situation I advanced a loan of about ten thousand rupees to Sarjerao Ghatge. The Peshwa was later imprisoned by Daulatrao Shinde.000 to Peshwa.000 Rs to . Large amounts of money were spent by both sides for the purpose of sabotage in the armies etc. Dada Gadre and others. His annual revenue collections to the tune of about sixty thousand rupees used to remain with me.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 439 expeditions. Vyankatrao Raste [a Chitpavan nobleman] was my friend since our childhood. to Queen Sagunabai. Rs 200. through Roopram Marwadi. Slowly my credibility and standing in society as a savakar was strengthened. wife of King Shahu.000 included: Rs 200. A savakar of the latter type may well be illustrated by the example of a mendicant-cum-moneylender. Each one of the prisonerswas forced to pay a ransom amount fixed on his head. On this occasion I advanced a loan of about fifty thousand rupees to Bajirao II through Roopchand. My uncle was in business as a savakar. I started my own career of businessindependently. According to a historical record. the office of Peshwaship went to Bajirao II. The amount was to be paid through one Modikhane. The prevailing situation in Maharashtra thus encouraged not only lay Brahmans. Thus. Some time later Bajirao Peshwa and Shinde imprisoned Nana Phadnis. After the death of Sawai Madhavrao. I borrowed money from different people at the rate of half per cent per month and lent it to the needy at the rate from one to two per cent depending on the situation. and how originally ordinary priestly Brahmans took advantage of it for embarking on their own business careers. to Umabai Dabhade. L.440 V. female-attendants. Only in the caste hierarchy. that not only members of different castes did not intermarry. but they followed only their caste occupations. wealthy priestly order. treasuries. vehicles. etc. Gadgil. Saswadkar. tanks. D.. Ch. Rs io. store houses. 23- . Also. P. throughout Maharashtra. Gadgil.000 to Nimbalkar. wells. At Dhavadshi the rich Swami. DIVEKAR Yeshwantrao Pawar. 'Brahmendraswami:His Life and Role in Maratha History' (Unpublished thesis. priestly and ruling-administrative classes.26 The Swami had with him two hundred oxen as pack-animals for transporting goods from Konkan ports to the Desh region. Origins of theModernIndian Business Class: An Interim Report(New York. as there were among them military men. 5. etc. lived like a merchant prince with all the related paraphernalia: clerks. that this immobility was induced and maintained by the caste system of society. have held that there was no mobility in India about the middle of the eighteenth century between merchant classes and military. R. soldiers. Rajasthan Banias held important political positions and worked as ministers in the courts of Rajasthan. He also effectively influenced the Marathas in taking decisions relating to relations with the Siddis in Konkan. Poona Univ. who was essentially a religious guru. 27 D. The real strength of the Brahman community as a whole in eighteenth-century Maharashtra came from the powerful hold it had on the state apparatus. It is likely that if we look closer into 26 P. Occupational immobility? Professor D. By his timely financial help through loans to the Peshwa and sardars the Swami made them remain under his personal obligation. and Rs 5. or the establishment of the church in the contemporary or the nineteenth-century Christian world. their caste was at the top. He gave liberal donations for the construction of temples. horses. and many other scholars. There was no religious order or organization of the Brahmans similar to the aristocracy of the Christian church. etc. cattle. traders and financiers. This position he utilized for furthering his influence in political affairs. He sided with the Peshwa Bajirao against other sardars. messengers. and that was very important as they received many social privileges because of that. I964). R.27 Professor Gadgil admits that Khatris of the Punjab constituted a partial exception to this. 1959). palanquins. It should be noted here that the Brahman community in Maharashtra in the eighteenth century was not like the powerful.

Professor Gadgil has also observed28 that as a consequence of immobility between different occupations in eighteenth-century India. etc. broadly it is true. the latter did not have much influence in shaping the military or political policies of the state. In the case ofBabuji Naik. along with the caste system. However. Not relevant because. while a large number of Brahmans were dominant in ministerial or high administrative positions. These observations may perhaps be true regarding some other regions in India. Telangana. and that caste barriers came in the way of mobility in different occupations in India. much of the generalized and theoretical discussion relating to India regarding caste barriers. and the so-called high socio-economic position held by the trading class in Indian urban life. In Maharashtra. becomes a matter for debate. III. . Conclusion Maharashtra was economically and culturally backward before the eighteenth century as compared to the neighbouring regions ofGujarat. in the eighteenth century there was no indigenous community which had confined itself only to trading. etc. The notion that the caste system made Hindus follow only their respective caste occupations. the occupations of moneylending and army activities.. as a savakar and as a sardar. it was not unlikely that some other members of their own families were leading moneylenders or traders.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 441 histories of business communities of different regions of India. The establishment of Maratha 28 Ibid. But so far as eighteenth-century Maharashtra is concerned. the brother-in-law of Peshwa Bajirao I. Karnataka. in Maharashtra. non-integration of so-called traditional caste occupations. the institution of vatan rights. needs to be investigated with reference to relevant religious scriptures and customs. And not valid because. the above observation does not seem to be very relevant nor valid. If we understand this historical situation in Maharashtra. Malwa. he combined in himself. and historical developments in different regions. and sub-regional customs also influenced occupational mobility. that although the Peshwas and other army chiefs were chronically in debt to the newly emerged class of Brahman savakars. we may come across similar other 'exceptions' everywhere. appointees to ministerial or high administrative positions were very rarely drawn from the trading classes. souls to a capital city with a population of more than 00oo. in this case commercialization of unlike in the feudal set up. Originally it was not an important industrial or commercial centre. while in Gujarat the area under the crop increased. But surely as far as Maharashtra Brahmans were concerned they started pursuing in that century without inhibitions a number of various callings. In Europe. not to be restricted by religious or institutional regulations. This came about as a consequence of a struggle in the direction of the creation of a 'civil society' where. The very rapid growth of Poona in the eighteenth century-from a small town of less than I o. Such fundamental change. Instead. Marx andthe ThirdWorld. however. the business activities nearly came to a halt and soon became almost non-existent. Ultimately the social barriers against trade and commerce collapsed and economic activity could expand 'in a morally neutral sphere of its own'. In the eighteenth century in some regions of India cotton played an important part in the development of rural as well as urban economies. This needs to Umberto Melotti. expansion of the area under the crop or increase in related activities of traders and moneylenders. in Bengal and Andhra there was an increase in the imports of cotton. This newly emerged class. it became more and more dependent on governmental and warlike activities for its sustenance and prosperity. nor did it become one in the process of its growth. Once this extraneous support was totally withdrawn. D.oooat the end of the century-and its fast depopulation soon after the defeat of Maratha rule indicate the inherent defects in its growth.442 V.29 It would be hazardous to find even a resemblance between the situation in Europe as described above. for example. with the situation that existed in eighteenth-century Maharashtra where there arose on a large scale a class of moneylenders and traders from among the traditionally priestly caste of Brahmans. in the late Middle Ages moneymaking came to be recognized as a legitimate pursuit. by Pat Ransford (London. p. DIVEKAR political power and its subsequent expansion offered an excellent situation to Marathi people for development in different spheres. 1977). owing to the defeat of the Marathas on the battlefield. 29 . did not come about in Maharashtra in the eighteenth century. the bourgeoisie was able to pursue the maximizing of private profit. except perhaps in the Berar-Nagpur region in the case of cotton. 98. became at no stage independent of the political situation. as also for the emergence of a new indigenous business class.

as they had not invested their capital even in the traditional mode of production. In one place Marx has observed30 that usury works revolutionary effects in all pre-capitalist modes of production. p. for. The economic change in Maharashtra in the eighteenth century in the form of emergence of an indigenous business class due to the political upheaval in the region may be considered as a typical example of such superficial change. not to speak of the capitalist one. in the case of an important section of Maharashtrian society at least. there arose the possibility of an almost unrestricted economic activity in a 'morally neutral sphere of its own'. the Marathi savakars of the eighteenth century were far behind in assisting the formation of the new mode of production. . Considered from this point of view.AN INDIGENOUS BUSINESS CLASS IN MAHARASHTRA 443 be emphasized. to that extent. 30 Ibid. does usury become a means of assisting in the formation of the new mode of production. Under the Asiatic forms usury may last for a long time without producing anything else.. Not until the other prerequisites of capitalist production are present. Economic changes in India that depended on the political factor were mostly of superficial nature. 102.

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