Zamindars of Bengal
The term Zamindar meant owners of land. It is originated from the Persian word Zamin meaning land. They were land owners in India and controlled vast amount of land. They took tax from the inhabitants of these villages and submitted to the Mughal Administration of India. Zamindars were the feudal lords in Mughal and British India. During Mughal times, there were a part of nobility. Zamindari was granted by the Mughals or inherited.
Their origin was supposed to be from pre Mauryan times, though the word was something different.
In some ways they were independent and ruled areas where permission was needed to enter by established administration.
They were the celebrities with power of the time. The Zamindars were part of the power elite to control and tax the peasants.
Structure during Mughal times.
The Zamindars wore classy attire including silks, velvets and lived like kings in their areas. This the closest view the common people had of royalty. Their personal royalty that is who were cruel administrators as well as benevolent. The modern police might be the replacement of the zamindari system, except they do not take taxes nor they live grand life style of the Zamindars.
One of the most famous Zamindar of Bengal was Rabindranath Tagore, the well-known poet from Bengal who won the Nobel Prize from Literature in British Times.
His counter part was Kazi Nazrul islam was is less known since he was not rich and could not get so much publicity. He was called the Rebel Poet or “Bidrohi Kobi”. He was critical of the British empire in the form a magazine: Dhumketu.
Bidrohi (The Rebel)
I am the unutterable grief,
I am the trembling first touch of the virgin,
I am the throbbing tenderness of her first stolen kiss.
I am the fleeting glance of the veiled beloved,
I am her constant surreptitious gaze…
I am the burning volcano in the bosom of the earth,
I am the wildfire of the woods,
I am Hell’s mad terrific sea of wrath!
I ride on the wings of lightning with joy and profundity,
I scatter misery and fear all around,
I bring earthquakes on this world! “(8th stanza)”
I am the rebel eternal,
I raise my head beyond this world,
High, ever erect and alone!
Zamindari Life Style
They lived a majestic style. Class in clothes , speech and way of living. The mini kings of the villages. Their word was law and many stories surrounded them.
What the common man has today ,in those times Zamindars had it. An average Zamindar owned 2000 bighas of land. In today’s he is the IRS department for the rural peasants. Though the Zamindar had one wife sometimes , it was normal to have several mistresses. The Zamindar did not have much work except collecting taxes and made sure people were afraid him. Lot of them were unjust.
I had stories in Zamindari times ,in their gardens one could reach fruits just by lying down. Nobody dared stealing from the zamindar’s gardens. His pond had the biggest fish. The Zamindar were the nobles of Bengal and India during the British times.
They enjoyed life with to its fullest, listening to music, drinking and watching the dancing girls. It was normal lifestyle for them. But one thing, karma’ got back to his injustices. There were several instances when he did not have any male descendant .
The Zamindary was removed in India and later on in Bangladesh. The Zamindars had immense power which was unquestioned in his area of jurdisction. You had to apply for Zamindary with money to the British Raj government. Something like affiliate system.
The zamindar had to pay a certain amount to the British Raj government per year. Something the Raj decided upon measurement.
Mohera Jomidar Bari”
Zamindar House ,established in Tangail:1890 by Karan Charan Saha.