2. Wealth and Power
Dharmadhikarnik Mahamahopadhyaya Gadadhar Jha
Born around 1330 A.D Gadadhar Jha was the eldest son of Graheshwar. We gather from Patra-panjee that he lived at a place called Usrouli, also that his children, from second and third marriage were residents of Baigni. Raghubeer Narayan writes that Gadadhar lived in Baigni Navada in the district of Darbhanga, so does Anand Jha in Chandravati Charitam. It is quite possible that Gadadhar may have shifted from Usrouli to Baigni, after his second or third marriage. He may have risen in influence and wealth, in Baigni, this being the reason why he is said to be a resident of Baigni in most of the texts.
Gadadhar Jha had three wives; his first wife was the daughter of Seeru of the great Mool ‘Gangauli’. Later he married the daughter of Harikar of ‘Gangaur’. He had children in both. But the most important marriage was the third where he married the daughter of a princess and a Minister of state. His third wife, Aajho Dai, was from ‘Kaligam Bhutahari’ Mool. She was the daughter of Rajkumari Uma, who was the daughter of Maharaj Ganeshwar of the Oinwaar dynasty. Her father was a minister of the same Raja; his name was ‘Sandhivigrahik Ganesh’.
This Baigni branch of the Alayee mool (more commonly known as Alayebaar Baigni), under its Beeji-purush Gadadhar Jha, became quite powerful. Later, between 1700 and 1958, one branch of Alayebaar Baigni, formed the ruling house of Banaili, the subject of this study. It amassed vast landed property in eastern Mithila (purnea), Bhagalpur, Munger and the district of Malda and Dinajpur in Bengal and played a very important role in shaping the political, cultural, economic and social scenario of the times.
Mahamahopadhyaya Gadadhar was a Dharma-dhikarnik of the kingdom of Tirhut. In Panjee Pradandh, we find him decorated with this title ‘Dharmadhikarnik’. This was a very important office in the judicial system of Tirhut. In contemporary Mithila, the ultimate office of judiciary rested with the king. This office was entrusted, by the king, into the hands of a representative who was called Dharmadhikarnik. In Mithila, Dharma meant, the code of conduct. The entire system of law, social behavior and personal conduct came under Dharma. Although, cases of law, and social problems were put up before the local Pandit, for disposal and decisions, but such cases that were very controversial or otherwise important, were sent to the Supreme Court i.e. the Raja. He entrusted it to the Dharmadhikarnik whose decision was final and binding to all. In other words, the Dharmadhikarnik was the chief justice of modern Tirhut. This, being a very important post was given only to such individuals who possessed extraordinary genius and charismatic personality. Dharmadhikarnik Gadadhar had an extraordinary personality. He won this title as a result of his genius and acumen.
God had also bestowed upon him the fatherhood of two royal dynasties. The royal lines of Souria and Banaili were immediate descendents of Gadadhar.
The daughter of Gadadhar Jha from his second wife was married to Vasudev of Surgan-loaam Mool. Vidushi-ratna Mahadevi Lakhima, the favorite wife of Maharaja Shiv Singh was the daughter of Vasudev. Lakhima had ascended the throne after the death of Shiv Singh and ruled Tirhut from 1416 to1428-29. Apart from this, Lakhima Devi is remembered even today through the poems of Mahakavi Vidhyapati. Vasudev’s great grandson was Chaturdharik Samru Rai, the founder of Souria and Pahsara estates.
Today almost every member of Banaili, is aware that it was Gadadhar Jha who earned and amassed great fortune and wealth. It is also accepted that it was through favours won from the Tuglaq Sultans of Delhi that he became a very rich man.
Before proceeding, we shall take a look at the political scenario of the Tirhut of Gadadhar. Raja Harsingh Deva of Karnat dynasty ruled Tirhut from 1307 to the year 1324, when he was defeated by Ghiasuddin Tuglaq of Delhi and had to flee to Nepal. Next, Ahmed khan was deputed to rule in 1353. Firoz Shah Tuglaq handed over the reigns of Tirhut to Bhogeeshwar, Raja of Oinwaar dynasty. Bhogeeshwar died in 1360. After his death, his son Ganeshwar became king but was killed in 1361, where upon his uncle Bhaveshwar ruled for 36 years. After a few years the sons of Ganeshwar, Kirtisingh and Veer Singh, went to Firoz Tuglaq and asked for help in reclaiming a share in their father’s kingdom. They succeeded and ruled half of Tirhut, half remaining with Bhaveshwar. But Mithilaak Itihas says that they succeeded with the help of Ibrahim Sharqi of Jaunpur. Tirhut was under the Sharqi overlord-ship till 1460. After the death of Kirtisingh, once again, reign was shifted to the younger branch. When Bhavsingh died in 1396, Devsingh ruled till 1412, where upon Shivsingh ruled till 1414-16.
Balban, the Sultan of Delhi, appointed his son Bughra Khan to rule over Bengal in 1281-85. After Balban’s death, Bughra Khan continued to rule Bengal till 1291 with the name of Sultan Nasiruddin. His grandson Gheasuddin Bahadur was defeated by Ghiasuddin Tuglaq when he came to Bengal and Tirhut in 1324 and the younger grandson Nassiruddin was installed on the throne of Lakhnauti. When Nassiruddin died, Md.-Bin-Tuglaq appointed Qadr Khan in Lakhnauti and re-installed Gheasuddin Bahadur at Sonargaon. Later he was punished and killed by the Sultan in 1330. In 1345 Ilyas Khan ruled over the entire of Bengal and exacted tribute from the Tirhut Raja in 1352. After his death in 1357, his son Sikandar Shah ruled till 1390. During the time of Ilyas and Sikandar, Firoz Tuglaq Shah came twice to Bengal in 1353-54 and 1359-60, during which he passed through Tirhut.
In the book “Bhagalpur Darpan” first volume, first part, page-245-246, Jharkhandi Jha writes that Emperor Ghiasuddin Tuglaq, being pleased and impressed by the immense knowledge, wisdom and saintly nature of Gadadhar Jha, gave him large landed properties in 1334 A.D.
A bundle of notes titled ‘Banaili Raj’, written by Raghubeer Narayan, private secretary to Raja Kirtynand Sinha of Banaili, have come into my possession. Here it is written that Sultan Nasiruddin alias Bughra Khan who was the ruler of Bengal till 1291 was in friendly terms with Gadadhar Jha. Both were of saintly nature and the Sultan held Gadadhar Jha in high esteem.
During the rule of Khilji dynasty in Delhi, Bughra Khan could not continue as the Sultan of Bengal and Bihar. But he held Lakhnowti as Jagir. Nasiruddin (Bugra Khan) used to visit Gadadhar Jha at the latter’s house in Baigni, whenever he came to Tirhut side. When Ghiasuddin Tuglaq came to Tirhut, on his way to punish Bahadur Khan, in 1324, Nasiruddin met him and presented Gadadhar Jha at the Durbar of the Sultan. It was on this occasion that Gadadhar made an accurate astrological predication and became a favorite of the Tuglaq Sultan. The Tuglaq Sultan showered him with gifts and riches.
Pandit Anand Jha writes in his ‘Chandrawati Charitam’ that, in spite of being a king; Gadadhar Jha was not addicted to the luxuries and vices of rich men. He possessed a handsome and strong physique. Not only was he very brave and an accomplished hunter, but also a warrior of fame. He was born in a pious Maithil Brahmin family. Because of these many merits he acquired large landed properties from the Afghan emperor Ghiasuddin. He was able to make his entry into the court of the Emperor, with the help of Nawab Nasiruddin of Bengal.
Upendra Jha wirtes on page 176 of the first part of Mithilaank in the magazine Mitihila Mihir that, when Emperor Ghiasuddin Tuglaq came to know about the genius of Gadadhar Jha through Subedar Sultan Nasiruddin, he gifted some villages to Gadadhar as Jagir.
In his article on page 19 of Mithila Bharti, Kamlesh Narayan ‘Kamlesh’ is silent about the Tuglaq Sultan. But he writes that Gadadhar Jha procured Baigni and neighbhouring villages from the rulers of Oinwaar dynasty.
Pandit Ramanath Jha in his ‘Alayee-Kul-Prakash’ contends on page72 that, if at all, Gadadhar was recognised by the Tuglaq dynasty, it must have been, by Firoz Shah Tuglaq, during the last year of his reign.
On one point, every scholar is unanimous. They all agree that the Tuglaq Sultans were pleased with Gadadhar Jha and decorated him with property wealth and Jagir.
It is historical truth that Ghiasuddin Tuglaq conquered Tirhut in1324, and while returning to Delhi, died in an accident when a building collapsed on him in 1325. Therefore, when Jharkhandi Jha writes that Ghiasuddin gave large landed properties to Gadadhar in 1334, it is definitely wrong. According to me, there seems to have been a printing mistake. 1334 has been wrongly printed instead of 1324. Otherwise, Ghiasuddin being dead in 1325, it is impossible that he met Gadadhar in 1334.
Even Raguveer Narayan seems to have written certain things that are far from historical truth. Although Bughra Khan was also known as Nasiruddin but it was another Nasiruddin who met Ghiasuddin Tuglaq in Tirhut, when the latter was going to Bengal to punish Gheasuddin Bahadur. This other Nassiruddin was ‘the grand son of Bughra Khan, the son of Shamsuddin Firoz Shah’. Shamsuddin ruled over Bengal from 1302 to1322.
It seems that Gadadhar Jha was born some time between 1325 and 1330. But the above-mentioned scholars do not seem to agree with one another on the subject of his time of birth. According to Raguveer Narayan, Gadadhar was a full grown adult in 1324 when he came in contact with Ghiasuddin Tuglaq. Pandit Ramanath Jha is of the opinion that Gadadhar was born around 1350 and Kamlesh Narayan maintains that his period was 1330 to 1413.
I have in my possession two articles and excerpts from authentic books that throw light on this topic and help me in taking a decision. One is ‘Chandrawati Charitam’ by Anand Jha and the other is the hand written and typed history of Banaili by Raguveer Narayan.
The first book is the life sketch of the last Rani of the Ram Nagar branch of Banaili dynasty ‘Rani Chandrawati’. This was written and printed around 1936-40. The other is a bundle of old papers, compiled and written by the private secretary of the last Raja of Champanagar branch of Banaili, ‘Raja Bahadur Kirtyanand Sinha.’ the first part is the genealogical tree of Banaili family. The second is the typed history titled ‘Banaili Raj’. I received these papers from my father Late Kumar Bimlanand Sinha. He had procured this bundle from the archives of the palace at Champanagar and had kept it in his safe custody.
Both these books are old, the latter having been written almost 79 years ago. This was written under the supervision and guidance of Raja Kirtyanand Sinha. However, after taking into consideration, the views of Ramanath Jha, I place my opinion below.
Sultan Ghiasuddin Tuglaq of Delhi invaded Tirhut, twice. Firstly, when he was going to Bengal and secondly, when he defeated Raja Harsingh Dev of Tirhut, while returning from Bengal. Both these visits were made between1323-24. If he had rewarded Gadadhar at one of these occasions then the latter was definitely an adult in 1323-24.
Firoz Tuglaq came to Tirhut in 1353. He made friendship with Raja Bhogishwar of Oinwaar and addressed him as ‘Priyasakha’. At that time Firoz Shah was 48 years old. Although it is authentic that he was friendly towards Bhogiswar, called him Priyasakha and made him the ruler of Tirhut. But this was definitely a political friendship. In diplomatic friendships age has never been a consideration. Firoz and Bhogeeshwar may have not been of the same age but a lot of difference in their respective ages does not seem very probable.
With Bhogishwar, we find a few more clues that help us to decide the period of Gadadhar Jha .
Princess Uma was the grand daughter of Bhogiswar and Uma’s daughter was the third wife of Gadadhar
Princess Nono, niece of Bhogiswar (daughter of his younger brother Maharaja Bhawesh Singh) was the second wife of Lakshmidhar, uncle of Gadadhar.
Taking into consideration the contemporary system of child marriage I have tried to make personal assessment of marriages and childbirth and have prepared the same genealogical tree in two different ways.
In the first, Bhogeeswar is shown to be 15 years older to Firoz Shah. It seems as if Gadadhar was born in 1320, according to the above chart. But if this was true, he was a mere adolescent of 14 years and it is not probable that he may have appeared at the court of Firoz Shah and won his favours at such a tender age.
In the second chart, Bhogeeswar is only 6 years elder to Firoz Shah. Gadadhar was born in 1330 and was a grown up man of 24 and was presented at the court of Firoz Shah by Sultan Nasiruddin, in 1353-54. Lakshmidhar (uncle of Gadadhar) is shown to have been born in 1310 and is 20 years elder to Gadadhar, which is quite probable.
In 1326-27 Gadadhar’s grandfather was the Karta of his family. So we can say that he was born around 1265A.D. Graheshwar was the eldest son of Rameshwar and was born around 1300A.D. Similarly, Gadadhar being the eldest child of Graheshwar may have been born around 1330. So the assessment made through the second chart is more probable.
Gadadhar was born in 1330 A.D and was recognized and rewarded by Firoz Shah, when the latter came to Tirhut, either in 1353-54 or 1359-60. After being recognized by the Emperor for a very accurate and lucky astrological prediction he became famous and was offered the hand of the daughter of Sandhivigrahik Gansheswar as his 3rd wife and later, the post of Dharmadhikarnik, both of which he readily accepted.
If we accept that Ghiasuddin Tuglaq was the initial patron of the house of Banaili, then we will also have to accept that the Donee was not Gadadhar but his grandfather Rameshwar, who was the Karta of his family. Rameshwar also, was a scholar of repute and it is quite probable that his friend Sultan Nasiruddin presented him at the court of Ghiasuddin Tuglaq.
But, there is no doubt that Gadadhar Jha aquired the village Baigni. We may never be able to find out whether the Jagir of Baigni and neighbouring villages were given to him by the Sultan of Delhi or the Oinwaar kings of Tirhut.
Gadadhar was a master of Indian Philosophy, Dharmashatra (Hindu law), and Astrology. He was a highborn Shrotriya. Saraswati, the goddess of learning, had showered him with her special gifts.
Now, it was the turn of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth to bestow her favours on Gadadhar. The house of Kaligaam-Bhutahari Mool, from which Gadadhar had taken his third wife, was playing a very important role on the political platform of contemporary Tirhut. The Oinwaar Rajas had many matrimonial relations with them. Many members of this family were influential and powerful ministers of state. Gadadhar’s father-in-law was a minister of state and his mother-in-law was the Oinwaar Princess Uma.
Thus, Gadadhar’s third marriage was very important. By becoming the son–in-law of a princess and a minister, he became very rich and powerful. He became the owner of many villages. He received the respected post of Dharmadhikarnik (chief justice) through the Oinwaar kings and immense fortune through the recognition of the Sultan of Delhi. Soon he became a favorite of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
In old Mithila, norms of Brahminism were maintained with rigidity and firmness. The chief duty of a Brahmin was to study and teach, apart from making deep studies and researches of the Vedas and Upanishads. They used to impart learning on to the next generation and carry out religious rituals. A Brahmin earned his subsistence through donations given by kings and nobles. These donations were received in the form of land, cattle and cash. But to receive remuneration for any service was absolutely prohibited for Brahmins. Every highborn Brahmin solemnly followed these rules.
Now, we see that Gadadhar Jha was a Shrotriya, a Brahmin of very high status. Although the post of Dharmadhikarnik was very important and prestigious, yet it was a job under the king and remuneration was given in cash or kind, or both. When we make a study of Panjee-Prabandh, we find that the children of every Dharmadhikarnik had to face a fall in their status as Brahmins. They were socially boycotted. The highborn Brahmins severed all connections with them. In this way every Dharmadharnik had to face the consequences of breaking a rule.
Gadadhar Jha was no exception. He had to bear the punishment, which had been prefixed for such a breach of the code of conduct. Because of his employment as a Dharmadharnik, the descendents of Gadadhar could no longer inter- marry with the staunch Shrotriyas. They were ousted from the society of the Shrotriyas.
According to the Hindu Caste system (Varnaasram Dharma) specific assignments were made for every Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. Fighting, protecting and ruling were the main duties of a Kshatriya. We find, that during this period, a Kshatriya or a Rajput did not rule Tirhut. Tirhut was under the rule of the Oinwaar kings who were Brahmins, belonging to the Oinwaar Mool and Kaashyapa Gotra. A Brahmin was not supposed to rule. So the Oinwaar rulers had also broken a rule and were criticized. Although, they were saved from the thrashings of open criticism because of their power, yet there was a distinct under-current of disrespect and hatred. Highborn Brahmins preferred to keep a distance and hesitated in making matrimonial relations with them.
Now, Gadadhar had committed three social offences. So, he had to face the consequences.
1 He took employment as a Dharmadhikarnik.
2 Several matrimonial relations were made with the Oinwaars.
3. He married a girl of Kaligaam-Bhutahri. This family was already guilty of the above two offences. Ganeswar, the father-in-law of Gadadhar, was a minister, an employee of the king, and had married the daughter of a Brahmin king.
For three generations this office of Dharmadhikarnik, continued to be held by the members of Gadadhar’s family.
Gadadhar was succeeded by his nephew Shivdutta and, Shivdutta was succeeded by his nephew Suchidutta. For three generations they maintained political influence and power. On one side, their power and wealth was on a constant increase while on the other side there was a steep fall in their caste status.
Therefore, there were two major changes;
1. The descendents of Gadadhar became exceedingly rich and powerful.
2. They lost their erstwhile status of a Shrotriya.
Harikar Jha was the eldest son of Gadadhar, by his third wife. He was born around 1382 A.D. and may have lived in Baigni (during early life). He was married to the daughter of Horay of Tehata Mool.
When we study the Panjee-Prabandh for details of this period, we come across many peculiarities. A typical change is found in the matrimonial relations of this branch of Alayebaar Baigni (the families and descendents of all the brothers of Gadadhar). All the daughters of Gadadhar were wed into well-reputed families and have been registered in the Panjee. But there is very little information about the marriages of his sons. The male descendents of Gadadhar have been mentioned in a most passing way. Further genealogical branching is available only for one out of the five sons of Gadadhar. Branches of the other four have simply vanished from the Panjee.
Although the genealogical tree of Harikar Jha is available, proper descriptions with details, start to come in, only after many generations, when there is all-round resumption of matrimony with the highborn Brahmins. Till then, the Panjee barely mentions Harikar Jha himself.
In the Panjee-prabandh when details of marriages and genealogical branching are shown, it means that marriages have been maintained within the sphere of the high borns. On the other hand when we don’t find further branching of a family it means that marriages have been made with low Brahmins.
On studying the charts of Gadadhar and his brothers we find that further branching have been shown for the daughters only. Branching on the side of the sons have either vanished all together or are barely mentioned. Even where the marriages of sons and grandsons are not even mentionable (low marriages) their daughters’ marriages are mentioned in details. This means that these daughters were wed into illustrious families in spite of the fact that their mothers came from ordinary backgrounds. There must have been a reason behind such diversities.
The Shorityas, Yogyas and Panjee-Badhs continued to receive the daughters of Alayebaar Baigni but abstained from giving their daughters in marriage to an Alayebaar Baigni man. This trend continued for many generations. Why this discrepancy?
Pt.Ramanath Jha makes an explanation of the phrase “SStree ratnam dushkulaadapi”and tries to justify the above mentioned duality of behavior, on page 104 of his book “Alayee-Kul-Prakash”. This means that it has been prescribed by the Hindu scriptures that “a woman should be regarded as a gem even if she has low birth”. According to him, the above phrase is enough justification, permitting the high-born to marry women of low birth. But the question arises--Should not the same justification be implemented universally?
The history of Panjee-Prabandh bears testimony to the fact that where
1. Gadadhar Jha lost his high caste because of marrying a daughter of Kaligaam-Bhutahari.
2. The high caste status of the descendents of Surpati Jha of Parihat-Sankararhi Mool remained un-disturbed even after marrying the daughter of Gadadhar Jha of Alayebaar Baigni. We must not forget that Gadadhar had already fallen from his status.
Both these brides were “Stree ratnam”(women gems) and were from a “Dushkul”(low born families). One was the daughter of Sandhivigrahik Ganeshwar of the degraded house of Kaligaam-Bhutahari whereas the other was the daughter of Dharmadhikarnik Gadadhar, of the recently fallen house of Alayebaar Baigni. Both the girls should have been regarded as a gem. Why this difference?
Even if I choose to ignore the above discrepancies of social justice it is quite abnormal that all the genealogical branches (except one) of the sons and grandsons of Gadadhar and his brothers have simply vanished from the Panjee. There must have been some other reason.
Immigration to far away provinces, by the members of Alebaar Baigni family may have been a valid reason. They may have been, simply unavailable in Tirhut, to provide details for entry in the Panjee. Being rich and powerful, the adventurous descendents of Gadadhar and his brothers may have taken for traveling. It seems that their entire joint household may have settled down for a few decades in some far away province like Bengal. Some may have settled there permanently while others may have put up temporary residences, never having deserted their ancestral home in Baigni.
In the beginning, these men of Alayebaar Baigni ignored the rigid rules of Maithil Brahmins and made relations with ill-reputed houses of Oinwaar and Kaligaam Bhutahari. They enjoyed the office of Dharmadhikarnik and political privileges related to it. Having procured Jagir and other landed gifts from the Muslim rulers they lived in pride. But when, the Shrotriyas almost completely ousted them from their society, they were quite unnerved by this social insult. They must have reacted and may have preferred to escape insult and infamy by immigrating away from Tirhut.
We can see, for example, the matrimonial relations of Harikar Jha who had married a girl from the Tehata branch of Kaligaam Mool. There is no such place as Tehata in Mithila but a place called Tehata exists in Bengal, even today.
Sankarshan Thakur of Khandwala Mool had acquired landed property in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh and lived there for many years. While living in Khandwa they maintained their relations with Tirhut. Later they returned to Tirhut, leaving behind a few members, whose descendents have become inhabitants of Madhya Pradesh.
Similarly, the descendents of Graheswar and Gadadhar of Baigni stayed away from Mithila but did not sever all connections. They developed matrimonial relations with other Brahmins of their new society (families of similar immigrants) by marrying their daughters. However, they preferred bridegrooms from Tirhut when they had to give away their daughters in marriage. In this way they maintained relations with the highborn Brahmins of Tirhut through the daughters. They never deserted their ancestral home at Baigni and emigrated after several decades.
It is more probable that immigration to far away places and matrimonial relations with other co-immigrants is responsible for consequent absence of details in the Panjee Prabandh.
I have had the privilege of going through the pages of Patra Panjee written by Horilla Jha. His great grand son, Shri Vidyanand Jha alias Mohan who is the Panjeekar of our family, showed me some excerpts from the Patra-Panjee, and I am obliged to him for the verification it provided towards probable immigration of the Banaili men. Here Gadadhar is shown as a resident of Usrouli but no comments are made about the residence of his son Harikar and grandson Shirkar. Again, Buddhikar the great grand son of Gadadhar is described as a resident of Baigni. This also, leads us to confirm that Harikar and Shirkar were immigrants, where as Buddhikar returned to Baigni and lived there.
Shrikar Jha was the eldest son of Harikar Jha. He was born around 1412 A.D. He had married the daughter of Gonu Jha of Maander-Baruari Mool. Gonu Jha lived at a place called Suhath. Major portion of Shrikar’s life was spent outside Tirhut.
Buddhikar Jha (1452 A.D.)
Buddhikar was the only son of Shrikar Jha. He is described as an inhabitant of Baigni in the Patra-Panjee written by Horilla Jha. He did not prefer the life of an immigrant as his grand father and father and returned back to his own native land. He settled down in Baigni. Buddhikar had married the daughter of Ramdhar of Maander-Brahmapur Mool. Ramdhar lived at Brahmapur.
Mahopadhyaya Rambhadra Jha
Rambhadra was the fifth and youngest son of Buddhikar Jha and Banna Devi. He was a learned man as is evident from his title of Mahopadhyaya. He was also famous as a Naiyayik of high intellect. Already being rich with ancestral legacies, now he earned back, the lost and forgotten scholarly honour of his great great grandfather Mahamahopadhyaya Dharmadhikarnik Gadadhar Jha.
Mahopadhyaya Rambhadra married Devika, the daughter of Harinath Jha of Gangauli-Supataani Mool. They had two sons, Bharat and Bhagirath.
Mahopadhyaya Bharat Jha
Mahopadhyaya Bharat Jha was a Pandit. His wife Jivani Devi was the daughter of Banmaali Mishra of Maander- Uaari Mool. Bharat Jha started in the direction of re-earning the lost highborn status of his forefathers, by making matrimonial relations with Shrotriya and Yogya. He had three daughters. All the three of them were given away in marriage to high born Brahmins.
Mahopadhyaya Ramkrishna Jha
Ramkrishna was the youngest son of Bharat Jha. Ramkrishna’s wife was Parama Devi. She was the daughter of Kamdev Jha of Darihara-Dighiya Mool. Like his grandfather Rambhadra, Ramkrishna lived a life of a scholar. The sore of social dishonour which had set in during the period of Gadadhar Jha and had become more and more painful with Harikar, Shrikar and Buddhikar, was treated with the medicine of wisdom and intellect during the time of Rambhadra and Bharat, was finally controlled and cured by the efforts of Mahopadhyaya Ramkrishna. Once again, matrimonial relations with families of repute started being established.
From the very time of Harikar Jha, the men of the Banaili branch of Alayebaar Baigni did not stay confined to their ancestral abode of Baigni. They kept traveling and putting up temporary residences in places like Purnea, Saharsa, Bhagalpur and some areas of Bengal. Harikar may have had connections in Bengal as he married a girl of Tehata Mool. A place named Tehata, where several Maithil Brahmins dwelled in those days, exists in Bengal. Shrikar’s father-in-law had married a girl from Baruaari-Maander who lived in Araari and later shifted to Suhath. All these three villages are situated within the present districts of Madhepura and Supaul, very near to each other. Buddhikar married a girl from Brahmapur. There is one Brahmapur in Tirhut. Another is in Bengal.
This goes to prove that they had definite contacts out side Tirhut. Most probably these contacts were made and kept for bread and business. The activities of the descendents of Rambhadra also, lead us in this direction.
Mahopadhyaya Ramkrishna had come to the Nashira province in Purnea for livelihood. He came into contact with the contemporary rulers of the kingdom of Pahsara (Purneah Rajah). Being a man of letters, he must have made his entry in the court of Pahsara. He was a renowned Naiyayik of his times. Once, the Rani Vedwati of Pahsara (the wife of Raja Veer-narayan Rai) was passing through village Pharkiya. She happened to come across Mahopadhyaya Ramkrishna and allowed him audience. Ramkrishna presented himself along with his two sons. The Rani was impressed and took an instant liking for the elder son, Vishweshwar. She expressed her wish to become his godmother and guardian. Ramkrishna complied with the Rani’s wish, overjoyed, naturally.
(Born around 1650 A.D.)
Vishweshwar jha was the elder son of Mahopadhyaya Ramkrishna. At some places his name is written as Vishwanath. But in the Panjee he is mentioned as Vishweshwar and his younger brother as Baidyanath. He was nick named “Visshu Jha”, a name by which he was better known. As a child, he lived with his father and brother at Pharkiya, from where the Rani of Pahsara picked him up. This was a turning point of his life. Now he lived under the guardianship and godmotherhood of the Rani. He was brought up as a special child. The Rani groomed him in such away that he became a part of the royal establishment at Pahsara. He was a playmate to the crown prince and later became his close friend and associate. The Rani had such an affection for Visshu, that she gave a village “Haweli” by name, to his wife (as Muh-dekhnaa) on the occasion of his marriage, as a token of her love.
Jagir of this Haweli (Banaili) village was the first bit of wealth that was acquired in the district of Purnea. In course of time this small bit developed in such a way that it was converted into the massive estate called the Banaili Raj.
Visshu Jha had three wives. They were from the well-reputed families of Khowaal, Maander-Kataiya and Darihara-Ratouli respectivlely. The Rajas of Pahsara were Shrotriyas. Visshu Jha, living under their supervision, naturally had the privilege of having a Shrotriya girl as his third wife. This third wife Gouri, had received the village Haweli as Jagir and went on to become the mother of the illustrious Dewan Devanand Jha (Chaudhary).
Dewan Devanand (Jha) Chaudhary
Devanand Jha was born around 1690A.D. He is called Dewan Devanand in the Panjee-Prabandh but Mukund Jha Bakshi calls him Devaanand Sharma. (Sharma is a title used universally by all Brahmins). From his very childhood, Devanand Jha remained in close contact with the royal house of Pahsara. His father, Visshu Jha had been brought up as a ward of the Rani of Raja Devnarayan Rai of Pahsara. For this reason, Devanand’s childhood was spent in and around the palace. From a very early age, he started taking keen interest in the management of the Estate and related political affairs. He had been a companion and playmate to the Prince “Ramchandra” and now grew up to become his favourite. When Raja Ramchandra Narayan Rai ascended throne, he appointed Devanand as his Dewan (Prime Minister). Now Devanand Jha became famous as Dewan Devanand of Pahsara Raj.
Devanand was an able statesman. Soon he rose in power and influence. He made contacts with the Fauzdar Nawab of Purnea and secured a place in the Durbar of the Nawab. The Nawab gave him due respect and held him as a friend.
These Fouzdar Nawabs used to wield extensive powers in those days and at times proved to be quite a menace to the subordinate Rajas and Maharajas. The Rajas looked up to these Fouzdar Nawabs for favour and kindness. It was through the influence and ability of his Dewan that the Raja of Pahsara had successfully cleared misunderstandings at the Nawab’s court and had re-established accord and friendship. Raja Ramchandra Narayan Rai felt pride in having Devanand as his Dewan.
At another time, the Fouzdar Nawab happened to be displeased and hostile towards Raja Raghav Singh of Tirhut. Having heard of the capabilities of Dewan Devanand, Raghav singh appealed to his friend Raja Ramchandra NarayanRai to intervene in this matter through his Dewan. Raghav Singh was desperate for a compromise.
Dewan Devanand Jha rose to the occasion, and accepted to act as an intermediary between the Raja of Tirhut and the Nawab. Very successfully, he influenced the Nawab and convinced him in favour of Raghav Singh. All misunderstandings were brushed aside and truce was established.
Soon after, in 1738A.D. the two Mahals of Dharmpur Parganna of Tirhut, namely Gorari and Nathpur, were gifted by Raghav Singh to Indranarayan Rai, the son of the Raja of Pahsara. This gift may have been made as a token of gratitude for the valuable help given by the Raja of Pahsara.
The above matter was settled with such expertise and wisdom that Raja Ramchandra received applause and praise from all over and his prestige grew even more. Being pleased with the faithfulness of his Dewan, he gave away to Dewan Devanand, the two Pargannas of Asjah and Tirakhardeh in 1751A.D. These two Pargannas were a part of the province of Morang which had been annexed and given to the Raja of Pahsara. They were situated near the northern border of Purnea and were infamous for criminal activities. They were very troublesome to the government. Most probably, it was due to this reason that Raja Ramchandra Rai had given Asja and Tirakhardah to Devanand. He had firm belief that his Dewan would succeed in controlling the criminals and rest of the Parganna would be saved from plunder and loot. The Raja was right. Within a very short period of time, Devanand and his son Parmanand succeeded in bringing under control, all criminal activities near the border.
It was Dewan Devanand who acquired Tirakharda, the oldest Parganna of Raj Banaili and started being addressed as a Chaudhary. So in a way, he can be called the founder of the Banaili Raj.
As a result of his wisdom and influence, good relation was re-established between Raja Raghav Singh of Tirhut and Saif Khan, the Fouzdar Nawab of Purnea. Later, he proved to be extremely helpful towards Raja Madhav Singh of Tirhut and saved his life during the latter’s childhood. In this way, this statesman of Banaili proved to be a benefactor for two rulers of the Khandwala dynasty of Tirhut. He was very kind at heart. Mukund Jha Bakshi calls him (Param Dayaalu Purush-Pungav).
Rani Padmawati, wife of Raja Narendra Singh of Tirhut had plotted the assassination of child Madhav Singh. When Madhav’s mother got the information that executioners had been sent to kill the child, she took shelter at the court of Devanand Chaudhary through Bakshi Umanath Jha. The Dewan Saheb gave protection to the mother and child and saved their lives. The child Madhav Singh lived under the guardianship of Devanand and his son Parmanand until he became fourteen years old. It was then that Madhav Singh was taken to Tirhut where he ascended throne at Bhoura-Garhi in 1775A.D. Soon after this incident, Dewan Devanand Chaudhary died at the age of 85.
Dewan Devanand Chaudhary’s wife was Snehwati Devi. She was the daughter of Ramakant of Amrawati branch of the great Darihara Mool. She gave birth to two sons, whose descendents became rulers of the Amaur and Banaili dynasties. The elder son was Parmanand Jha and the younger was Manik Jha. This Manik is addressed as Maniknand, Maniknandan or Manikchandra in different texts.
Although Dewan Devanand was the Prime minister of Pahasara, his native village continued to be the old Baigni in Tirhut. After becoming the lord of two Pargannas in 1751A.D. he may have erected a palace for his own use, either in one of the Pargannas or the village Banaili. It was here that he provided shelter to Madhav Singh and kept him for 14 years. Therefore in all probability, during the first half of his life, the Dewan lived with his brothers in Baigni. Later, when Baigni was deserted by his son Parmanand, a permanent home was setup in the division of Purnea as the Dewan had already taken in his hands, the reigns of Asjah and Tirakhardah. Even his kin and cousins (Nikat-Daayaad) moved away from Baigni. Baigni was completely deserted.
Before proceeding to the next chapter, let us discuss and clarify some details given by other historians. There is very little co-ordination in whatever has been written about the life-sketch and lifetime incidents of Devanand Jha and his son Parmanand Chaudhary. Pt. Ramanath Jha writes “it is proved that the Pargannas of Asjaah and Tirakhardeh were given to Dewan Devanand in 1751.” Therefore this is clear that it was Devanand who came to Purnea, not Parmanand. Similarly, it was Devanand who founded Banaili Raj, not Parmanand. Francis Buchanan confirms that Devanand acquired Asjaah and Tirakhardeh.
Ramanath Jha may be right when he says that Devanand came to Purnea. But this does not prove, in any way that he had left Baigni for good. That Devanand became a Dewan and acquired two Pargannas is in no way contradictory to the fact that Parmanand became the Chaudhary of Fakrabad and fled from Baigni to save himself from the angry court of Azimabad (to be dealt in the next Chapter). The contention of Ramanath Jha, that all the above incidents took place with Devanand and that Jharkhandi Jha has entered the name of the son instead of the father, is not logical at all. This inference that Devanand was the Chaudhary of Purnea and not of Tirhut is both unproved and baseless. In the autobiography of Raja Kamlanand Singh of the Srinagar branch of Banaili, which was published in Mithila Mihir it is clearly written on page 151 that Babu Hazari Singh (Parmanand Chaudhary) had quit Baigni.
Chaturdharik Hazaari Mansabdaar Parmanand Singh (Chaudhary)
Hazaari Mansabdaar Parmanand Singh Chaudhary was born around the year 1720 A.D. During the early years of his life, he was called Parmanand Jha. As he grew, from childhood to manhood and later passed into an advanced age of his life, he received many titles. Thus Panjee-Prabandh records his name with all his titles.
Parmanand was brought up as a child belonging to an aristocratic family. He was trained in most of the manly sports that were prevalent in those days. He grew up into a handsome man, having not only a strong and robust body but also a charming personality. Under the guidance of able tutors, Parmanand soon became proficient in such languages as Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. He was also a wrestler of fame. Tiger hunting and angling were his favourite hobbies. Parmanand Jha was very ambitious. Being a man of great enterprise, it took him little time to make many friends at Azimabad (Patna). Soon he became quite influential at the court of Azimabad. With the help of powerful and influential friends at the court, he successfully bagged the post of the Chaudhary of Parganna Fakrabad. He took the Chaudharyship on behalf of his joint family. Now the title of Chaudhary replaced the surname Jha for his entire family. It is very probable that for this reason only, his father Dewan Devanand also, added the title of Chaudhary to his name. Parmanand’s native village Baigni, fell within the Fakrabad Parganna. Although this village was already an ancestral property of their family, the acquisition of the seal of Chaudhary multiplied his jurisdiction and power by many times. Their family prestige rose to greater heights. He carried out the duties of an able Chaudhary for many years.
Year after year, Parmanand successfully collected government revenues on behalf of the Murshidabad Nawabi government and remitted the collections to the Azimabad treasury. Being in close contact with the Azimabad office, he made friends with important grandees at court, and as the years rolled on, he became more and more influential in the land of his birth. He became careless in the discharge of his duties. The regular remittance of revenue money into the treasury was neglected, which led to accumulation of large amounts as arrears. Thus he incurred the wrath of the Governor of Azimabad. Government Sawars (horsemen) were deputed to go to Baigni, to bring the Chaudhary to court, with all his papers, and of course, the dues in revenue.
The Sawars, on reaching Baigni, however, were brought under the influence of the Chaudhary, who cleverly and cunningly bribed them and bought them over.
They returned to Azimabad, neither with the Chaudhary nor with his papers or money. As per the plans of Parmanand, the Government representatives (Sawars) narrated the following story to Raja Ramnarayan, false from beginning to end.
“While we were coming to Patna, as per orders, along with the defaulter Parmanand Chaudhary, all his papers and complete remittance of all revenue arrears, the boat by which we came, capsized in the River Kamla. Everything and everyone was drowned, except the Sawars and the Chaudhary himself, who somehow managed to swim ashore.”
This story however, was not believed at, and the Governor, in anger, sent some stern Amils to chastise the Chaudhary and bring him, in chains to Azimabad, to be punished there upon.
As I have already mentioned, Parmanand Chaudhary had many influential friends at Azimabad. Swift messengers were sent by one of them and he was given a warning of the upcoming danger. The message, though it reached just in time, found the Chaudhary in the midst of a Pokhar Yagya, which was to be performed in a day or two.
In haste, the Pokhar Yagya was abandoned, and the Chaudhary had to flee along with his family.
After Parmanand had successfully bribed and sent off the Sawars with a story, which, he was sure, would be believed at Azimabad, it seems that he became over confident and sure of himself. Having thought, that the danger had been averted for good, and Azimabad being not close by, he started with great zeal, the excavation of a tank, after the completion of which he would perform a tank ceremony (Pokhar-Yagya). The Yagya, being an important social and religious event, would enhance his position, to greater heights. But, soon after the tank was dug and just on the eve of the big event of his life, the alarming news reached his ears. He knew that grave danger was upon his life and family. He must act quickly or else, all would be ruined. In his trepidation, he hurriedly sold 1/4th of the village Baigni, and taking with him the money thus got, he struck into the neighboring jungles with all the male and female members of the family, and their belongings, as much as could have been carried.
Thus Parmanand Chaudhary left Baigni, never to return. But before leaving, he planted a Khirni plant at one of the banks of the tank. This tree existed till Babu Raghuveer Narayan wrote about it in 1924, even till a much later date when it was photographed by Kumar Ganganand Singh. The tree may still exist, but I am not aware of it, unable to visit Baigni as yet. Why he chose a Khirni plant and what it signifies, I can’t say. Though, I feel that it should have some significance. Babu Raghuveer Narayan and Jharkhandi Jha have specifically mentioned this Khirni plant.
Because of his romantic and enterprising nature, Parmanand enjoyed his nomad life to the full, leaving all household responsibilities upon the shoulders of his younger brother Manik Chaudhary. Raghubeer Narayan writes that he spent most of his time in hunting and angling. Manik Chaudhary arranged for the comforts of the in-mates.
That Pramanand Chaudhary spent most of his time in hunting and angling, seems most improbable. With danger at his heels, and being constantly at a run, he may have had little peace of mind, to indulge in such sport. He may have had to be in continuous touch with his friends and informers, always planning ahead of his enemy. Only the very small spans of peace of mind and leisure may have given him the chance to go hunting etc, which of course, being his favorite pastime, may have been greatly enjoyed. He kept moving from one place to another, in order to avoid getting caught. During these wandering years, Parmanand’s wife gave birth to two sons, Eklal and Dulal (Dular). After passing through the jungle tracks of Benua Parganna, Parmanand came to Parganna Farkiya in Munger. (Later, a part of Raj Banaili- Gogri circle).
But the governor of Azimabad came to know of his whereabouts, and once again, they had to move in haste, to Musapur, in Parganna Dharmapur. Here too, insecurity followed him and finally, the Chaudhary family with its master, came to Amour. But before they could reach Amour and resume normal life, Parmanand’s younger brother Manik died, leaving behind his only son Harilal.
Bhairava Mullik, a Kayastha, who was the Kanoongo of Purnea, lived at Amour. He came to know about the nomad Choudharies, and offered them shelter, which the latter readily took. Bhairav promised to keep his secret (the Azimabad episode) and gave him vast tracts of cultivable land, which lay fallow at that time. Bhairav must have been aware of his influential father Dewan Devanand, who till now, was not in a position to recognize his son, because of the Azimabad danger, and would feel obliged by Bhairav’s timely help. It is also quite possible that through the influence of Dewan Devanand, the settlement at Amour under the patronage of Bhairav, may have been all pre-planned.
The name of Hazaari Parmannand Chaudhary, tells us clearly that he was appointed Hazaari Mansabdar by the Nawab. Hazaari Mansabdar was a Khillat or title conferred by the Nawab, to a person who was made a commander of one thousand horsemen. The recipient normally would get landed property for maintenance of the cavalry.
We have already seen that Dewan Devanand had immense influence around the court of the Fouzdar Nawab of Purnea. It is very probable that he must have sought the approval of the Nawab after he received the vast landed properties of Asjah and Tirakhardeh from the Purnea Raja. Both these Pargannas were situated near the northern border and were constant troubleshooters. Military assistance was necessary for the smooth sailing of revenue affairs in these two Pargannas. Hence it is quite natural that the Nawab decorated the old Dewan with the title of Chaudhary and the enterprising Parmanand, with the title and post of Hazari Mansabdar i.e. master of 1000 horsemen. Jharkhandi Jha writes on page no 248, “Once, the Fouzdaar Nawab of Purnea went out hunting to the countryside of Amour. He couldn’t bag any game and was about to return, disappointed. At this moment, Parmanand killed a tiger, with a single stroke of his sword, and dragging it, to the Nawab, presented it to him. The Nawab was pleased and conferred upon him, the title and office of Hazaari Mansabdaar.” It is quite possible that the Nawab, who had already made up his mind, due to reasons discussed above, may have chosen this moment to announce it. Thus, Parmanand became the commander of 1000 cavalry and came to be famous by his new Khillat and title. He came to be known as Hazaari Chaudhary, and his sword became a symbol of valour, and was called “Chandrahaas”.
Of course, the purpose of the post of Hazaari Mansabdar was fulfilled and justified by Parmanand who proved to be an able Zamindar and peacemaker in the Pargannas of Asjah and Tirakhardeh.
However, the responsibilities of Hazaari Mansabdari led him to be entangled in scandal and rumour, which did little to enhance his prestige and fame. Francis Buchanan mentions a scandal related to Parmanand Chaudhary, while he writes about the latter’s son.
“In Matiyari, near Morang, Dular Singha has given 1800 bighas to about 50 men called Jagirdaars, who are fellows of some courage and who paid only Rs.250 a year, but are bound to oppose incursions of wild beasts from the side of Morang. They also pretend that they oppose the passage of thieves, although scandal gives a different turn to the nature of their employment, especially in the time of his father”. Again he elaborates on page305 “scandal indeed says that in former times, these men were employed for very different purposes, to which the fortunes of the family is attributed, and it is supposed that the proprietor is unwilling to dismiss his family dependents, or to deprive them of the lands which they formerly held for the services to which he owes his fortune”. So there was certainly a scandal of the above essence, in those days. Buchanan came to hear of it and wrote it down. He himself sees it as mere scandal and rumour. He writes “in all probability, however, such assertions are mere scandal, for which the natives have a great propensity. The family managed the affairs of Puraniya Rajas, an employment offering abundant resources for emolument without having recourse to robbery”. Pt. Ramanath Jha holds similar views and I agree with them. It is very abnormal and improbable, that a man rich enough to be a Zamindaar of Tirakhardeh and Asjah would recourse to robbery for wealth. It is already quite clear that the frontier was very troublesome and needed much attention and care on the part of the Zamindaar. Parmanand was made a Hazaari Mansabdaar, mainly to protect the border from intrusion and plunder and it was for these purposes that the above-mentioned men were hired and maintained.
There is yet another story. I must admit that Parmanand Chaudhary had many stories linked with his up coming fortunes. Jharkhandi Jha writes about Hazaari Chaudhary on page 248 of Bhagalpur Darpan “Once Raja Indranarayan Rai of Pahsara, was travelling on a palanquin, when Parmanand presented him, a big“Rohu” fish, which he had just angled. The Raja became pleased and employed him as a servant. He became a Tehsildar and was paid Rs.30 per month.” Some others say that he was a manager of the Raja’s estates. This story, however, is quite improbable. Parmanand was not new to Raja Indra Narayan to be introduced in such a way. Parmanand’s grandfather had been brought up in the court of Pahsara and his father was already a Dewan of the same estate. Of course a Dewan’s son could have been employed as a Tehsildar, at least in initial stages, but then, for a person of Parmanand’s caliber who was a Hazaari Mansabdar, and proprietor of a Zamindari estate, it is quite improbable to accept the post of a petty Tehsildar. As for the sum of Rs. 30, one should note that in those days, even the sum of Rs. 30 was no small sum, and could easily be given to a manager.
Pt Ramanath Jha declares that the above story is completely untrue. But I do not see enough reason to brush it aside completely. Parmanand had been a “Chaudhary” of Fakrabad and had lived in Baigni. Now after coming to Purnea, he may have tried to make fresh contacts with the employers of his father. So, he may have presented a fish to Raja Indranarayan. But the rest is pure fiction.
Jharkhandi Jha writes further, that during his employment at Raja Indranarayan’s court, Parmanand managed, by fraud or manipulation, to get the settlement of Mahal-Kursa-Kanta, at the time of the permanent settlement. He lost his favours with the Raja, for acting thus.
Pt Ramanath Jha feels that this story is completely untrue and I agree with him. Parmanand Choudhary was dead at the time of the Permanent Settlement, so was Raja Indranarayan. Moreover, only Tirakhardeh was settled with Dular Singh at the permanent settlement.
After the disintegration of the estate of Pahsara, Raj Banaili came into prominence in the province of Purnea, and many Mahals of the former estate [including Kursa Kanta] became newly acquired properties of Raj Banaili.
A descendent of the Rai family of Souriya, [Souriya and Pahsara were the two branches of Surgan Dynasty] has told me a similar story. He added that the angry Raja cursed Hazari Choudhary that his ill-gotten wealth would be retained only till seven generations from him. He also reminded me, with a cynical smile, that I was the seventh generation. Of course I did not try to make him understand that the so-called ill-gotten wealth had failed to survive till the seventh generation and that I am no Zamindar but an ordinary, yet proud citizen of independent India.
To sum it up, Hazaari Parmanand Chaudhary was formerly the Chaudhary of Fakrabad and later of Tirakhardeh Parganna. He was a military commander of 1000 cavalry, at the court of the Fouzdar Nawab of Purnea. He was an able commander and Zamindaar. He was very influential, both at the court of the Fouzdar Nawab and Raja Indra Narayan Rai. He may have been an employee of the latter, for sometime. Parmanand was a flourishing agriculturist as well.
When his son Dular Choudhary came of age, he took to gradual retirement and spent his last days at Amour.
Hazaari Parmanand Chaudhary had married Chaudhrani Anandi Devi the daughter of Tengri Jha, of Pabouli Bariam Mool. Although Tengri Jha had not been able to retain the Shortriyaship of his grandfather, yet he maintained quite a high status in the social set-up of those days. For Parmanand Jha, it was an achievement to win over the hand of the daughter of a highborn Brahmin such as Tengri Jha.
This marriage was a turning point in the history of Kuleenism in Mithila and the house of Banaili. For generations to come, his descendents became very particular in making marriage matches. Daughters were given away in marriage, to the highest born Shrotriyas and care was taken to procure brides from very high born families. Although, the brides were not always from a Shrotriya family, it was almost compulsory that they were not lower than the social rank of Yogya (The second strata, lower only to Shrotriyas). This social consciousness of his descendents bore fruits in the long run to the extent that, during the last quarter of the 19th century, a special social position called Paainj was granted to them in the name of Parmanand Choudhary.
At this point let us know a little more about Paainj or Laukit. When a person, within the sphere of the Panjee Prabandh, married into a family lower in status, than its own, his position fell to the level of his marriage and he would be ousted from his own society of higher birth. When in future, he or his descendents, succeeded in procuring matches from higher bred families, and keep up the higher trend, his family would be given a Paainj or a title, which announced that, though having fallen, they had now risen once again and shall be accepted as high born. However, the Paainj never gave back the initial high position, from where one had fallen, but reserved for the family, a place in between the former and the latter.
When Maharaja Rameshwar Singh of Darbhanga arranged for the compilation of Paainj of Pachhwari paar, every Paainj was denoted a position in strata. At that time, about the year 1890-1900, a new Paainj was made on the name of Parmanand, namely Parmanand Choudhary Paainj. It was placed in the 2nd Shreni (Strata) and given a position higher than Mahadev Jha and Kamalnayan pathak and equal to the Shreni of Padma Jha and Shrikant Jha.
Even today, the system of Panjikaar prevails in Mithila and at least 75% of the marriages are registered with them. So the name of Parmanand Chaudhary lives, and will live for many decades to come.
Parmanand Chaudhary died around the year 1780-90. The exact time of his death is not known. But it was not before 1775 when Madhav Singh was taken from Dewan Devanand’s custody and placed on the throne of Tirhut at Bhoura-Garhi. However, Parmanand Chaudhary was definitely not alive at the permanent settlement when Tirakhardeh was settled with Dular Singha, his son.
The Amour Branch -
We have already seen that Parmanand settled at Amour. He started a new life. Threat of the Azimabad government was finally averted and Parmanand could come out of his life of obscurity. He united with his father Dewan Devanand and a small fortress was built at Amour.
In course of my research, I made a visit to Vishnupur, which is very near to Amour. The elderly inhabitants of this village seemed to have great reverence for the house of Banaili. They told me that before settling at Amour, the royal camp was posted at Vishnupur. Due to the hubbub and activity of the royal entourage, the inhabitants who were of a saintly disposition, pleaded with the royalty to move to a more suitable place, whereupon, the Palace was built at Amour. To date, there is an orchard called Garhi-bari  in Vishnupur, where, it is said, that the ladies of the Palace would make a retreat for quiet and calm especially at pregnancies.
Pandit Ramanath Jha is of the opinion that Parmanand lived somewhere in Tirakhardeh. I too, gather from family lore that there was a home in Aamgachhi in Araria, where Devanand may have shifted from his village Banaili in Haveli Parganna. Later, when Parmanand came to Amour side and settled there with the help of Bhairav Mallik, their residence may have shifted from Aamgachi to Amour.
Amour is situated on the banks of river Vakra, a mountain river flowing down south from Nepal. Being well connected through this river route, a market of considerable size cropped up at Amour, which soon developed into one of the most important trade and business centres. It grew under the royal patronage of Dewan Devanand, Hazaari Parmanand and Babu Harilal Choudhary. Similar but smaller markets developed at Baluganj, Dulalganj and Kuttigola. The market of Amour was very famous for the manufacture of utensils and cutlery (Spoons, Forks and Knives). These utensils and cutlery were in good demand and were exported to far away places.
The entrance to the township was built at the banks of the river Vakra. Massive stone paved stairways led up to an entrance hall and the Naubat-khana. Here guests were received amidst royal honours while the Shahnai Walas played sweet tunes from the Naubatkhana. From here, broad avenues led to the elevated palace grounds where a befitting residence was put up with all its paraphernalia. High walls surrounded the palace and several tanks were dug outside the Garhi. These tanks provided water for drinking and bathing and helped in keeping the atmosphere cool. There was one special tank adjoining the south-eastern wall into which an underground tunnel-like pathway was built from the inner quarters of the palace. Ladies of the Royal household used this tank for daily bathing purposes. There were several underground rooms within the Palace. These may have been used either for storage of wealth or protection from enemies. Outside the gates of the palace, a hall of worship called the Devighara was built for the annual Puja of goddess Durga. Adjacent to it was a temple of Shiv. During festivities dance and drama was organized at the Nach-ghar situated close to the Devighara.
Several temples were built at neighouring villages like Vishnupur, Maitara, Mohamadpur, Fakirtoli, Nitender, Haripur and Kilpara-kala. The rulers of Amour maintained these temples. Kali-puja was held at Vishnupur. It was customary to have the presence of the chief devotee at the Balidaan, which was held late at night. But here, this tradition was changed to accommodate the Raja of Amour who being the chief devotee could not be present at such late hours. So, the Balidaan was held on the following morning when the Raja made his presence. To date, this tradition is maintained by the people of Vishnupur, even though the Raja has ceased to exist.
Apart from the above, a Mazaar of a Pirbaba at Amour was maintained by the estate for the benefit of its Muslim subjects.
I went to Amour in 2001 to inspect the ruins. The palace has fallen down and a Referral Hospital has been built at the site. I saw one of the outer walls of the Garhi. Having fallen into ruins, they now appear as a long embankment or Bundh running north to south behind the presently built hospital. The Devighara still stands, so does the Mazaar, being lately repaired and remodeled by the present management. Total area covered up by the royal establishment (the entire palatial setup including the Devighara, several tanks and the walled palace itself) was 56 acres. Even today the palace area and the reception hall at the banks of Vakra are known to the people as Rajgarh and Rajghat. As I have already mentioned, Amour was the first royal settlement of the house of Banaili.
When Parmanand’s son, Dular Chaudhary grew up, a partition of the estate was made and Dular Chaudhary moved away to Banaili. Amour fell into the share of Harilal Choudhary, the only surviving son of Maniknandan.
Chaturdharik Manik Singh Chaudhary
Manik or Manikchandra or Maniknandan, as he is called in the various texts was the younger son of Dewan Devanand and the younger brother of the illustrious Parmanand. He was very fond of his elder brother. When Parmanand fled from Baigni and struck into the jungles of Nepal, Manik accompanied his brother and managed the entire household, during extremely difficult times that they had to face as wanderers. Manik may have possessed bad health, which is indicated by his untimely death. He could not sustain the strains of the difficult nomadic life. Before the family could reach the safety of Amour, Manikchandra died leaving behind his widow and his newborn son, Harilal.
Dharmaavataar Harilal Singh Choudhary
Harilal (Hir Lol or Haralal) was of the same age as that of his cousin Dular Singh Choudhary. Both the cousins were born after the flight from Baigni and while their parents were wandering from one place to another. Harilal lost his father as an infant and was brought up under the guardianship of his uncle Parmanand Choudhary. When a partition was made of their ancestral property, Harilal got Parganna Asjah. He also took Amour in his share and continued to live there. Unlike his cousin Dular, Harilal could not acquire the title of Raja from the government. Yet, he was a Raja for the public, which held him in high esteem. He was adorned with the title of Dharmaavataar which means, an incarnation of Dharma or justice. This indicates that he was a just Zamindaar who protected the weak and punished the evil. His estate was managed through his able manager Heman Mullick, the son of late Bhairav Mullick. Harilal never forgot that Parmanand had been obliged by Bhairav, and addressed Heman as his brother.
Story goes that Harilal Choudhary used to carry himself with great pomp and style. He moved on horseback surrounded by numerous follower horsemen, their numbers being so great that their spears would act as an umbrella, adding much to the style and comfort of their master.
Harilal’s estate was called Amour-garh. This comprised mainly of the Parganna Asjah. Parganna Asjah was 127 sq miles in area. Francis Buchanan writes on page 492 “Asja (Assownja, Gladwin) is a fine estate containing about 128,000bighas, of which perhaps 24,000 have been alienated free of rent, and of the remainder between 63 and 64 thousand may be occupied. It is scattered through the divisions of Dangrkhora, Dulalgunj, Nehnager, Haveli and Arariya. In the year 1158 (A.D. 1751) this was alienated by Chandra Narayan, the father of the last puraniya Raja, to Devananda, a Mithila Brahman, who at the same time procured another estate called Tirakharda, which will afterwards be mentioned. Asja went to his eldest son Manikchandra, who has left it to his son Haralal. The bigah is of the same kind with the smaller one in haveli, and almost the whole is let by a certain rate on each crop. Land that produces two distinct crops pays from 4½ to 16annas, according to the degree of favour for the tenant; summer rice alone pays from 4¾ to 10annas; transplanted rice from 3 to 9annas; other winter crops from 2½ to 5annas. Sugarcane from 7 to 10annas; grass for thatch 6annas.”
In the statistical account of the district of Purniah it is written “Parganna Asja with measuring poles in use of 4, 5, and 6 cubits, or 6, 7½, and 9 feet, and customary Bighas of 1600, 2500, and 3600 square yards, or .330, .516, and .744 of an acre. Balua, or sandy soil, suited for the cultivation of rice and mustard, and yielding four or five mans of rice and two mans of mustard per Bigha, pays rent at one rupee the local Bigha, or 3s. 9¾d. per acre. Doras, or earthly soil mixed with sand, producing khesari, wheat, linseed, and gram, and yielding a crop of two mans, pays rent at the rate of one rupee the local Bigha, or 3s. 9¾ d. an acre.”
I gather from the note given below that the income from Asjah was rather unstable.
S.K Chakraborty writes on page 49 “Kholra was in a flourishing condition and Asja was in very much the reverse. It had suffered from famine first and from a too abundant harvest just afterwards. In 1770 its assessment was Rs. 45,000 nearly: four years later, only Rs. 16,237 could be obtained even by letting it on farm, a form of settlement that generally brought a better return (nominally at least) than a settlement with the Zamindar. It had recovered up to Rs. 29,776 in 1788.”
The following table shows the collections made by the Government from Parganna Asjah, between 1172 (1765) and 1180 (1773) as against the amount it was settled for.
Year Settlement Amount Collection Amount
1172(1765) Rs.69,342 Rs.63,659
1173(1766) 75,406 67,669
1174(1767) 47,647 42,717
1175(1768) 50,320 47,262
1176(1769) 34,591 31,591
1177(1770) 32,232 32,232
1178(1771) 22,187 22,184
1179(1772) 20,743 20,743
1180(1773) 22,522 13,145
A list of complete assessment of the province of Purnea in 1761A.D. (1168 A.B.) in its several Pargannas generally under an equal number of Zamindars, whose names being the actual occupants in 1783(1190), together with the Ausiljama (Actual Deposit) in 1728 has been shown on page161 of the final report on the revisional survey and settlement operations in the district of Purnea. I am producing certain portions of the above list to show the position of Asjah and Tirakhardeh.
Harilal’s wife was Yagyamati Choudharani. She was the daughter of Krishnaram Thakur of Khandwala Bhour, a descendent of Dubey Thakur, the grandfather of the founder of ‘Khandwala’ dynasty of Mahesh Thakur. Harilal and Yagyamati had one son Kalitnath, and two daughters Dayani and Kamalmukhi. Dayani was married to Bholanath Mishra, the maternal grandson of Raja Chandranarayan of Pahsara. The younger Kamalmukhi too, was married to the same Bholanath, after the untimely death of her sister Dayani. Bholanath belonged to the house of Sodarpur-digoundh.
Kalitnath Singh Choudhary
Kalitnath was the only son of Harilal. He succeeded to his parental legacy of Asjah Parganna- Touji no. 29. He also owned parts of Sripur Parganna Touji no. 1232. Karulal Thakur of Bhima-balua was the chief manager of Amour in the days of Kalitnath. Very little is known about Babu Kalitnath. He had three wives. The youngest was Chandr-wati Choudharani, alias Lakshmi, the daughter of Eknath Jha of Haripur. Eknath belonged to the house of Kujouli-Bhakhrauli.
Kalitnath had one son who was named Tirthanand Singh. Babu Ragubeer Narayan writes, “Manik Choudhary’s descendents took to dissipation and profligacy and finally ruined the entire paternal legacy they had got.” It seems that Kalitnath had taken to the vices, such as wine and women, which was very commonly found among men of such rank.
Tirthanand Singh was the last heir of the Amour branch of Banaili.
Story goes that his manager, who had connived with another gentry of the area, deceived Tirthanand Singh
Soubahs, Chucks Circare and Pergunnahs
Zamindar in 1190
Ausil Jumma 1135
Net Mal-goojary 1168
Serinjammy Charges Deducted
Gross Mustabox Juma 1168
Soubah Bangal Chuck Akbernagar Circar Purneah
Rany Ender Ranny
,, Succeeded to
Ranny Succeeded to
and deliberately delayed the payment of government revenues. While the manager was on way to government headquarters at Purnea to deposit an installment of government revenues, he was intercepted by his ally who bribed him and jointly they decided to ignore the remittance of revenue. As a result, the estate of Amourgarh was auctioned by the implication of the sunset law.
His entire estate was bought by Nakchhed Lal, grandfather of Raja P.C. Lal of Nazargunj and Karulal Thakur of Bhima-balua in Araria.
While he was being turned into a pauper by his own trusted manager, Tirthanand was busy spending his time with his dancing girls and concubines. He could not bear the shock of the news of his sudden bankruptcy and lost his head. Raghuveer Narayan writes, “Asjah passed away into other hands and the old family mansion at Amour became a heap of ruins.”
Chandr-wati Choudharain, the widow mother of Tirthanand continued to live in the palace for some time with her eccentric son. It is said that Tirthanand left home and became a vagabond. What happened to him is not known. Becoming poorer everyday Chandr-wati shifted to a smaller house out side the dilapidated palace. Although, she still held large plots of cultivable land, it was difficult for a lady of her position to live by such small patches of income. Her health deteriorated fast and she had to be taken under the custody of her husband’s nearest Daayaad (Kin) Raja Padmanand Singh of Banaili, whom she appointed her Kartaa-putra. After her death at Jasidih (Deoghar) Padmanand Singh inherited, all she had left.
Amour fell to ruins and its old glory was lost. Nakchhed Lal shifted the trading center, to another place called Muchh-hatta. The families of skilled artisans who made utensils and cutlery took shelter under the Nawab of Kishanganj and settled there in an area, which is known as Mohalla Amour even today.
 courtesy Panjikaar Mohan Jha
 Raguveer Narayan was private secretary to Raja Bahadur Kirtyanand Sinha of Banaili. He wrote a short history of Banaili in 1924
 Firoz Tuglaq ascended throne on 23/3/1351 at the age of 46—An advanced history of India by R.C. Mazumdar, H.C. Raychaudhari and K. Dutta-page319
 Horay’s wife was the daughter of Purai of Alayee.
 Mool Panjee of Alaybar Baigni
 Gonu’s wife was the daughter of Bhoge of Deegho Mool. Bhoge lived at Panichobh.
 Ramdhar’s wife was the daughter of Amroo Misra of Ekahara Aasi
 Harinath’s wife was the daughter of Matikar of Maraad Mool.
 Banmali’s wife was the daughter of sripati Misra of Sodarpur.
 Kamdev’s wife was the daughter of Pasupati of Usrouli Alayee.Kamdev was Sridhar’s son.
 Nashira is believed to be a cultural division within the old political province of purnea
 There being no such village called ‘Haweli’ on any of the village lists or maps of that period, I am led to believe that Mukund Jha Bakshi may have meant a village of Haweli Parganna. In fact, Banaili was a Mauza as well as village within the Haweli of purnea.
 Alayee-kul-prakash page84-85 -The year of death must be in (or after) 1775 as Mithila Bhasamay Itihas confirms that Madhav Singh was taken from the custody of Devanand and placed on throne in 1775
 According to Buchanan, Manik was the elder brother. Everywhere else Parmanand is held as the elder one.
 There was a Palatial set-up at Kuari, north of Kursa-kanta and within the Parganna of Tirakharda.
 The family of the brothers of Devanand lived in Banaili till, as late as, 1950. Another Daayaad lives in Rupaspur in Purnea.
 “Banaili Raj” by Raghubeer Narayan
the village Baigni was settled with Dular Singh at the permanent settlement.
 Buchanan calls him the elder son.
Jharkhandi Jha writes that Parmanand left for Farkiya in Munger by the river route of Kamla. But according to Raghuveer Narayan he entered into the jungles of Nepal and traveling through the jungles, reached Farkiya via Benua-Parganna.
 Kamal Narayan ‘Kamlesh’ writes in ‘Mithila-Bharti’ that Choudhary Pramanand Jha received the post of Hazari Mansabdaar from the Subedar of Bengal.”
 Zamindar is a Persian compound word meaning keeper or holder of land Eg. Fauzdar ( keeper of Army) and subedar ( keeper of province), Lessee of Land, An absolute right-holder of proprietorship in the soil subject to the payment of a fixed amount of revenue to Government
 Non Shrotriya
 The following Paainj were placed in the 2nd Shreni in descending order in the Chhaapaa Printed on 10.6.1929:-1 Padma Jha, 2 Srikant Jha, 3 Maniyari, 4 Bandhu Misra, 5 Amoun, 6 Khusiaal Misra, 7 Gonu Jha, 8 Parmanand Choudhari, 9 Kamalnayan Pathak, 10 Mahadeb Jha.
 Orchard of the Fortress
 A place where Sehnai and Nagara are played. Generally this is a room or canopied place on the first storey.
 These were discovered at the time of the construction of the referral hospital which has been erected at the site recently.
 A large, pillared hall meant to accommodate a big crowd at festivals.
 Buchanan calls him the elder son
 S.K chakraborty.
 A person who is chosen to complete one’s last rites. Mostly, the same person was recognized as one’s successor.