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An Inheritance of Loss: The king's debt, women's wills, and public charity in princely Mysore

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2020

JANAKI NAIR*
Affiliation:
Jawaharlal Nehru University Email: nair.janaki@gmail.com

Abstract

In 1845, the banker Damodar Dass of Srirangapatna loaned a large sum of money to Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III of Mysore. For the next seven decades, until the unpaid debt was turned into public charity, the multiple claims of Damodar Dass's heirs to this inheritance led the colonial state and the Mysore government (especially after 1881) to form a substantial archive. Occupying the foreground of this archive were the legal dilemmas posed by the transition from direct to indirect British rule in Mysore, involving the fate of kingship, debt, reciprocality, and masculine honour. Other legal dilemmas concerned the relationship between scriptural and customary law and, in particular, the portability of customary law between regions that were unevenly exposed to Anglo-Indian legal regimes. The claims also reveal the important ways in which a new moral order was being shaped as the relationship between the colonial regime and the princely state (or later its bureaucracy) was defined and the status of four female heirs was called into question. Additionally, the archive has the potential to disturb the univocality of this statist discourse. A third narrative may be uncovered that involves the ‘small voices of history’. What hopes did this era of profound transformation hold for women of the non-domestic sphere? What, moreover, can the women in these archives be heard to say about the truth of their times?

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

I have presented versions of this article at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge; Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; and the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, where the comments of the audiences have greatly helped in revision. I would like to thank Mary John and Poorva Rajaram as well as the three reviewers of MAS for their insightful comments, which have helped me revise this piece for publication.

References

1 Spivak, G., ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in Colonial and Post Colonial Theory: A Reader, Williams, P. and Chrisman, L. (eds), Columbia University Press, New York, 1994, pp. 66111, especially p. 82Google Scholar.

2 Mani, L., Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1998, p. 190CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 I have discussed the nineteenth-century history of Mysore, including the transition of the Maharaja to a private person, in greater detail in Nair, J., ‘Introduction’, in her Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota, 2011, pp. 125Google Scholar.

4 Guha, R., ‘The Small Voice of History’, in The Small Voice of History: Collected Essays of Ranajit Guha, Chatterjee, P. (ed.), Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2009, pp. 304317Google Scholar.

5 Farge, A., The Allure of the Archives, trans. Scott-Railton, T., Yale University Press, New York and London, 2013, p. 30CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 Ibid. p. 33. This is a slightly different approach from that increasingly taken by many feminist legal historians, who have shown us, for different parts of India, that the legal status of widows in particular and women in general under colonial rule did not necessarily move towards greater disempowerment. The gaps and ambiguities of the colonial legal system were successfully exploited by women, to considerable material advantage. By focusing on family strategies, rather than on the structures of official kinship, these authors have been able to draw a very different picture of female agency. These are just a few examples of a rich and growing body of work: Carroll, L., ‘Law, Custom and Statutory Social Reform: The Hindu Widow's Remarriage Act of 1856’, in Women in Colonial India: Essays on Survival, Work and the State, Krishnamurthy, J. (ed.), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999, pp. 126Google Scholar; Choudhry, P., ‘Contesting Claims and Counter Claims: Questions of Inheritance and Sexuality of Widows in a Colonial State’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 29, Nos. 1 and 2, 1995, pp. 6582CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Prasad, N. V., ‘Remaking Her Family for the Judges: Hindu Widows and Property Rights in the Colonial Courts of North India, 1875–1911’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Vol. 14, No. 3, Winter 2013, n.p.CrossRefGoogle Scholar, who shows: ‘… out of all the inheritance disputes that came before the Allahabad High Court between 1875 and 1911, approximately 200, or a staggering seventy percent, involved widows … [T]hirty of them reconfigured their families in order to secure control over property. Widows adopted sons, kicked adoptive sons out of their homes, brazenly lied about the legitimacy of their sons, presented competing family trees and genealogies, and capitalized on their role as mother or sister, instead of widow—all in order to retain and expand their proprietary rights. For most, the remade family was an effective legal strategy; sixty-five per cent of those who used it won.’ Similarly, in two related articles, Rashmi Pant demonstrates the necessity of paying attention to ‘a greater variety of familial and inheritance practices [that] may have existed than the dominant legal narrative, influenced by colonial/Orientalist ideas, allows for’: Pant, R., ‘Revisiting Family and Inheritance Old Age Endowments among Peasant Households in Early Twentieth Century Garhwal’, NMML Occasional Paper, History and Society New Series, Vol. 29, 2013, pp. 118, esp. p. 17Google Scholar. See also, on the ways in which the requirement for family labour in the peasant household in the Garhwal hills was met through informal polygamous unions, ghar jawains, and substitute husbands, Pant, R., ‘Matrimonial Strategies among Peasant Women in Early 20th Century Garhwal’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 48, No. 3, 2014, pp. 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar. As Rachel Sturman has pointed out, the contradictions in colonial mechanisms of power, and especially the realm of law, became the location of a very productive tension between ‘abstract human universality and commensurability’, on the one hand, and ‘incommensurability and uniqueness’ represented by women and the family, on the other. See Sturman, R., The Government of Social Life in Colonial India: Liberalism, Religious Law, and Women's Rights, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012, p. 195CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 In this voluminous archive, the names of those involved in the case have been variously spelled. For convenience, I have retained one set of spellings for names throughout unless they appear in a quotation.

8 We have come a long way indeed from feminist notions of women's archival absence to the discussion of women-as-sign, from the compulsive urge to ‘restore’ agency to women to a focus on larger structures and patterns that may themselves render women invisible. A more recent turn to ideas of personhood allows us to follow Arlette Farge who suggests: ‘A history of relationships of power can also take into account sufferings and deceptions, illusions and hopes. History must be able to take charge of these matters, measure the poignant and reflect on the unnamable’: Farge, The Allure of the Archives, p. 45. New feminist scholarship includes those who continue to interpret the presence of women in the archive as a sign of power and, further, of presence and speech as a form of feminist ‘politicization’. See, for instance, Ghosh, D., Sex and the Family in Colonial India: The Making of Empire, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Anagol, P., The Emergence of Feminism in India, 1850–1920, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Farnham, 2005Google Scholar; Sreenivas, M., Wives, Widows, Concubines: The Conjugal Family Ideal in Colonial India, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2008Google Scholar. In other, equally rich social histories, the recoverability of women, even if sometimes as abject beings, is seen as an equal task of the feminist historian. See, for instance, Sarkar, T., Rebels, Wives, Saints: Designing Selves and Nations in Colonial Times, Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2010Google Scholar. To mine the non-colonial (namely non-English) sources for the clues they provide to ideas of personhood, and the individuation of women in particular, is the painstaking task undertaken by Devika, J., Engendering Individuals: The Language of Re-forming in Twentieth Century Keralam, Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2007Google Scholar. A second strand of historical work tends to press the presence of women in the archive, however thick, into the service of delineating larger categories of political economy or governmentality. More recently, Joan Scott has urged feminist historians to uncover the place of psychoanalytical approaches as a way of mining the imaginative rather than the material: Scott, J., The Fantasy of Feminist History, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2011Google Scholar. I am grateful to Poorva Rajaram for urging me to clarify this point.

9 Abstract and statement of the names of the Sowcars and the amount of debts due to them as per the account received through the Resident on the 17th July contrasted with the accounts subsequently delivered to Captain Clarke from the Mysore Dafter on the 3rd August 1833, Foreign Political Proceedings, 9 November–16 November 1835, 63-80, National Archives of India (hereafter NAI). When Mysore was brought under direct rule in 1832, Damodar Dass headed the list of 68 creditors by loaning Canteroy Pagodas (CP) 353,095-3-5 ¼ towards the payment of the Mysore subsidy, which totalled CP 1,288,590-0-11 ¼.

10 Appendix A: To the Right Hon'ble Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India: the humble petition of Vurgee Lall Doss a Hindu inhabitant and Sowcar of Mysore, at present residing at No 88 Salay Street in the Black Town of Madras in the East Indies, 12 October 1865, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

12 To His Highness. The Maharaja of Mysore, the humble petition of Subhathra Boyee of Madras by her duly constituted Attorney M. Venkata Row of Madras, 17 June 1889, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

14 Krishnaraja Wodeyar III was often simply referred to as ‘the Rajah’. However, unless it is in a quotation, I have retained ‘Maharaja’ throughout.

15 Sheshadri Iyer to Fuller, 9 January 1887, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

16 Appendix M: Letter from Brijlaldoss to the Chief Commissioner of the Government of the Territories of His Highness, Maharajah of Mysore, Bangalore, 5 February 1870, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

17 Appendix G: The humble petition of JUMNABOYI, residing at No. 83, Mint street, Black Town, Madras, (1881), File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

18 Jumnaboyi to Chief Commissioner of Government of the Territories of His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, Bangalore, 14 June 1880, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

19 Notes, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI; Petition to His Highness the Maharajah of Mysore, 21 July 1888, from Subhadra Boye and Jumna Boye, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

20 To J. B. Lyall esq. B.C.S. British Resident in Mysore, Bangalore, the humble petition of Gocul Doss Govardhana Doss of Madras by his duly constituted attorneys, Messrs Fuller and Co. and Vencata Rao of Madras, Madras, September 1886, File No. 547, 1886: (1) Sl. Nos. 1–14, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

21 Order Camp No. 2,255, Mysore, 25 March 1889, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

22 To His Excellency The most honorable Marquis Lansdowne, Viceroy and Governor General of India in Council, Subhathra Boyee, of Madras by her duly constituted attorney M. Venkata Row, 28 November 1890; To the Right Honble Viscount Cross GCB Secretary of State for India in Council, the humble memorial of Subhathra Boyee of Madras by her duly constituted attorney M Venkata Row, of Madras, 10 June 1891, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

23 K. Sheshadri Iyer to Colonel Henderson, Resident in Mysore, 7 July 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

24 Major C. W. Ravenshaw, First assistant to Resident in Mysore, to Sir Sheshadri Iyer, 19 February 1895, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency File, NAI.

25 K. Sheshadri Iyer to Resident in Mysore, 19 March 1895, File No. 547, 1886: (6) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

26 Mysore Gazette, 10 October 1895: C. No. 42, dated 4 October 1895: calling ‘all persons having any claims to or in respect of the said amount of Rs 5,67,388 … should file their claims … on or before 31 Dec. 1895’, File No. 547, 1886: (9) Sl. Nos. 160–194, NAI.

27 Judgement: In the Special Court of Mysore constituted under Regulation 1 of 1896, Bangalore, 21 September 1896, before Mr Justice Best, Chief Judge, Mysore and C. H. Jopp Esq., ICS, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, NAI.

28 Exhibit H: Review Petition against the Judgement of the Special Court, 30 September 1896, and Exhibit L: Petition by the Memorialist. To the Durbar praying than an opportunity by granted for proving the original will of Jumna Boyee; To her Highness Maharani Regent of Mysore, the humble memorial of M. Vencata Row, and Mahalakshmi Boyee, Executor and Executrix respectively of late Subhadra Boyee of Madras in the matter of the claim against the Mysore State, 25 August 1897, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, NAI; The Humble petition of Mysore Venkata Row and Mahalakshmi Boyee the claimants herein; Memorial of M. Vencata Row and Mahalakshmi Bai, To His Excellency the right Honourable Lord Curzon of Kedleston, 2 August 1900, File No. 547, 1886: (13) Sl. Nos. 239–249, NAI.

29 Vencata Row to the Resident of Mysore, 10 June 1905, File No. 547, 1886: (13), Sl. Nos. 239–249, NAI; To the Rt Honble Viscount Lord Morley of Blackburn Secretary of State of India in Council, London, 30 July 1908. The supplemental memorial of M Venkata Row the Executor with Probate of the last Will of the late Mahalakshmi Boyee and the surviving co-executor with Probate of the last will of the late Subhadra Boyee in the matter of the claim against the Mysore State, File No. 547, 1886: (15) Sl. Nos. 256–257, NAI; M. Vencata Rao to F. A. Hirtzel CB, London, 16 March 1911, and M. Vencata Rao to F. A. Hirtzel CB, London, 23 March 1911, File No. 547, 1886: (18) Sl. Nos. 266–272, NAI; M. Vencata Row, Sole Executor, representing Damodar Doss Vallabha Doss and Girdhar Doss Vallabh Doss firms, to the British Resident of Mysore, 4 November 1913, File No. 547, 1886: (20) Sl. Nos. 275–284, NAI. Venkata Rao kept up his appeals in memorials dated 12 June 1914, 4 May 1915, 8 November 1915, 4 May 1916, and 11 November 1916. None of these was forwarded to the viceroy, at the discretion of the Resident, File No. 547, 1886: (20) Sl. Nos. 275–284, NAI.

30 Dewan of Mysore to Resident of Mysore, 16/17 October 1896, File No. 547, 1886: (10) Sl. Nos. 195–219, NAI. Resolution 10 of the 168th meeting of Council dated 17 December 1898, Papers relating to Damodar Dass Charities, Karnataka State Archives (hereafter KSA), p. 8.

31 Nair, ‘Introduction’, pp. 1–25; Report on the Origin, Progress and Suppression of the Recent Disturbances in Mysore, Bangalore, December 1833, pp. 45–46.

32 Joseph, S., ‘Mysore's Tribute to the Imperial Treasury: A Classic Example of Economic Exploitation’, Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, Vol. 70, 1979, pp. 154163, especially p. 154Google Scholar.

33 Ikegame, A., Princely India Reimagined: A Historical Anthropology of Mysore, Routledge, London, 2013, p. 27CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Foreign Department Political, 14 September 1844, Pt I 978, NAI.

36 J. D. Stokes, Resident of Mysore to J. H. Maddock, Secretary to Government of India, Fort William, 2 September 1842, Proceedings, Foreign Department Political, 2 November 1842, No. 205, NAI.

37 From Major General Cubbon Commissioner for the Government of Mysore, to F. Currie, Secretary to Government of India, Foreign Department, Bangalore, 11 September 1844, Foreign Department Political, 26 October 1844, No. 119, NAI.

38 India Political, 22 November 1848, India Office Records (IOR)/E/4/798, pp. 801–802.

39 See Ikegame, Princely India Reimagined, pp. 19–27. On the reciprocal obligation of the gift, see Mauss, M., The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. Halls, W. D., Routledge, London, 1990, pp. 1946Google Scholar. Useful reviews of the correctives to Mauss from an Indian perspective are in Ikegame, Princely India Reimagined, especially pp. 19–27. See also Copeman, J., ‘The Gift and its Forms of Life in Contemporary India’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 45, No. 5, September 2011, pp. 10511094CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

40 Graeber, D., Debt: The First 5000 Years, Melvillehouse Publishing, Brooklyn, NY, 2011, p. 110Google Scholar.

41 Memorandum showing the status of the members of the family of Subhadrabayi, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

42 From two notes that were written by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, it appears that Damodar Dass was affectionately referred to as ‘Chitty’. Appendix Q: Translation of a letter addressed to Doss Appagi by His Highness the Maharajah of Mysore, on Monday the 3rd decreasing moon of Phalguna, year Virodhikrutu, corresponding with February 1852, File No. 547, 1886: (6) Sl. No. 110, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

43 See Leonard, Karen, ‘Family Firms in Hyderabad: Gujarati, Goswami, and Marwari Patterns of Adoption, Marriage, and Inheritance’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 827854Google Scholar.

44 Enclosure to Appendix B: Memorandum showing the status of the members of the family of Subhadrabayi, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

45 Damodar Dass's assets and properties were substantial and he had loaned money to several important and minor princely states in southern India. His assets included: cloth; jewels; silver, copper, brass, vessels; houses at Srirangapatnam, Mysore, Bangalore, and Srirangam; Jahagir villages; vritties (promissory notes); furniture; bonds; debts due from private individuals; Begum Saheb's jewels (possibly the senior rani of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III); bank shares; and dues amounting to Rs 50,000 from the raja of Gudwal, Rs 16,000 from the raja of Vanaparthi, and Rs 47,000 from the daughter-in-law of Purnaiya, Bhagirathi Bai. Ibid. Damodar Dass employed at least five or six goomastahs, kept his accounts in Gujarati, and managed them himself, judging from the frequency with which he was called to testify on rates of interest before the Grant Commission. Appendix G: Abstract of the Wills of Damodar Dass Valabha Dass, No. 1, 3 October 1853 and No. 2, 5 October 1857, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

46 Enclosure to Appendix B: Memorandum showing the status of the members of the family of Subhadrabayi, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

47 Ikegame, Princely India Reimagined, pp. 23–27.

48 Report on the Administration of Mysore, for the year 1867–68, Revenue, Mysore Government Press, Bangalore, 1869, p. 1; Rao, C. Hayavadana, Mysore Gazetteer, Vol. IV Administrative, Mysore Government Press, Bangalore, 1929, p. 378Google Scholar.

49 Appendix A: To the right Honble Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India: the humble petition of Vurgee Lall Doss a Hindu inhabitant and Sowcar of Mysore, at present residing at No 88 Salay Street in the Black Town of Madras in the East Indies, 12 October 1865, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

51 See Ikegame, Princely India Reimagined, pp. 18–19.

52 Ibid., p. 23. The issue resonated well into the twentieth century, when the Maharaja's special status was cited as the reason for disallowing the artist K. Venkatappa from suing Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar for breach of contract. See Nair, Mysore Modern, pp. 165–195.

53 See, for instance, Ranajit Guha's critique of the ‘spurious hegemony’ of the ideology of ‘rule of law’: Guha, R., Dominance with Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1997, pp. 6672Google Scholar.

54 Appendix Q: Translation of a letter addressed to Doss Appagi by His Highness the Maharajah of Mysore, on Monday the 3rd decreasing moon of Phalguna, year Virodhikrutu, corresponding with February 1852, File No. 547, 1886: (6) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency File, NAI. All emphasis in this article's quotations have been added by the author.

55 Appendix R: Translation of a letter addressed to Doss Appagi by His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, on Monday the 8th decreasing moon of Asweega, year Paridavi, corresponding with September 1852, File No. 547, 1886: (6) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

56 Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years, pp. 10–13.

57 Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, Maharaja of Mysore to Lieut Genl. Sir M. Cubbon Commr., For the Government of the Territories of His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, 6 August 1858, File No. 547, 1886: (9) Sl. Nos. 160–194, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

58 Leonard, ‘Family Firms in Hyderabad’, p. 833.

59 Abstract translation: Petition dated 30 December 1897 from Ananthapuram Shamanah and Bhagawath Narrain row son of B. Krishnappah alias Krishnaswamy, File No. 547, 1886: (11) Sl. Nos. 220–230, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

60 J. D. Stokes, the Resident of Mysore to J. H. Maddock, Secretary to Government of India, Fort William, 3 February 1842, Foreign Department Political, 2 November 1842, No. 77, NAI.

61 Sheshadri Iyer to Col. Henderson, 5 May 1893, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI; Ikegame, Princely India Reimagined, pp. 19–27.

62 Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, The Financial Foundations of the British Raj: Ideas and Interests in the Reconstruction of Indian Public Finance, 1858–1872, Hyderabad, Orient Longman, 2005, revised edn, p. 215Google Scholar. The interest paid on Indian public debt in England, which was met out of Indian revenues, had leaped from £889,000 in 1856–57 to £2.08 million in the 1865–70 period. Ibid., p. 303; see also pp. 213–218.

63 Graeber, however, sees debt and honour as inextricably linked, and also alerts us to the moral confusions and contradictions that haunt all societies. Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years, pp. 4, 114.

64 Sheshadri Iyer to Fuller, 9 January 1887, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

65 Dewan of Mysore to the Resident in Mysore, 7 June 1894, File No. 547, 1886: (5) Sl. Nos. 81–109, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

66 Resident Cunningham to Dewan to Maharaja of Mysore, 31 March 1881, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

67 Office of the Resident at Mysore, Bangalore to the Dewan to His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore, 31 March 1881, File No. 547, 1886: (1) Sl. Nos. 1–14, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

68 From Deputy Secretary to Government of India, to Resident of Mysore, Fort William, 31 March 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, NAI; Exhibit B: Lord Cross’ order for payment, 22 April 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI; Memorial of M. Vencata Row and Mahalakshmi Bai, 2 August 1900, File No. 547, 1886: (13) Sl. Nos. 239–249, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

69 Resident Lyall to Dewan Sheshadri Iyer, 13 May 1887, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

70 In his letter to Colonel Henderson, the Resident of Mysore, K. Sheshadri Iyer noted that the Government of India was now trying to make the repayment of the loan a personal rather than a state responsibility, though, of necessity, it had to be met from public revenues. K. Sheshadri Iyer to Colonel Henderson, Resident in Mysore, 7 July 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

71 K. Sheshadri Iyer to Colonel Henderson, Resident in Mysore, 7 July 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

72 Dewan Seshadri Iyer to Lyall, 8 January 1887, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

73 Appendix C: Devaki Bayi's Will, File no. 547 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

74 Leonard, ‘Family Firms in Hyderabad’, p. 830.

75 ‘That your Petitioner is the only daughter and legal personal representative of the late Brijlaldoss, deceased, and as such possessed herself of the estate and effects of her father and D'doss, deceased, her late grandfather …’: Appendix G: The humble petition of JUMNABOYI, residing at No 83, Mint street, Black Town, Madras (1875), File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

76 File No. 547, 1886: (15) Sl. Nos. 256–257, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

77 Bourdieu, Pierre, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1977CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Das, Veena, ‘National Honour and Practical kinship: Of Unwanted Women and Children’, in her Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1995, p. 55Google Scholar. In the Special Court of Mysore constituted under Regulation 1 of 1896, Bangalore, 21 September 1896, before Mr Justice Best, Chief Judge, Mysore and C. H. Jopp Esq., ICS, Judgment, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

78 Reminder from P. Ananthacharlu to Resident of Mysore, 30 January 1893, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

79 Henderson to Secretary to Government of India, 11 July 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI; Under Secretary, Government of India to Resident in Mysore, 6 September 1892 and 23 September 1892, File No. 547, 1886: (3) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

80 Claim of Brijlal Doss and his successors in interest against the His Highness, the then Maharaja of Mysore, Reminder from P. Ananthacharlu to Resident of Mysore, 30 January 1893, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, NAI.

81 Four letters of Dewan to Resident: Sashadri (sic) Iyer to Col. P. D. Henderson, Resident of Mysore, 9 July 1892, 5 May 1893, 6 November 1893, and 7 June 1894, Exhibit C, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

82 Arunima, G., There Comes Papa: Colonialism and the Transformation of Patriliny in Kerala, Malabar, 1850–1940, Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2003Google Scholar; Kodoth, P., ‘Courting Legitimacy or Delegitimizing Custom? Sexuality, Sambandham, and Marriage Reform in Late Nineteenth-Century Malabar’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, May 2001, pp. 349384CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Nair, J., Women and Law in Colonial India: A Social History, Kali for Women, Bangalore, 1996, pp. 145179Google Scholar.

83 Sheshadri Iyer to Col. Henderson, 5 May 1893, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

84 For instance, the assertion that ‘community of right in property among Hindoos is ever dependent upon the community in blood…’ was part of the reasoning that led to the famous decision that widows enjoyed only a limited and not an absolute right to the property of their husbands: see The Collector of Masulipatnam v. Cavally Vencata Narranappah (29 and 30 November 1861), Cases in the Privy Council, Vol. VIII, pp. 529–556, especially p. 533. In contrast was the decision that drew on the exceptionality of Mayukha, as it allowed sisters, including half-sisters, who ‘have no place in the line of succession’ to include step-mothers, ‘who are not included by Mitakshara as “mothers”’, which must have deeply disturbed Sheshadri Iyer. See Kesarbai v. Valab Raoji and others, 16 September 1879, 4 Bom 188 in ILR 4 188, pp. 635, 646. Another decision also upheld Mayukha exceptionality: ‘The principle of the general incapacity of women for inheritance founded on the text just referred to [Baudhayan] has not been adopted in W. India where for instance, sisters are competent to inherit’: Lallubhai Bapubhai and others c. Cassibai and others, 27–30 April 1880, 5 Bom 111, p. 77. Even the consanguinity of the wife was recognized in Bombay courts as early as 1813 and a right affirmed by shastris was the right of widows to inherit as a gotraja sapinda. See ibid., pp. 78, 84. Another judgment decided that ‘stridhan proper devolves on females’: see Manilal Rewadat v. Bari Rewa, 19 October 1892, ILR 17 Bom 760.

85 West, R. and Buhler, G., A Digest of the Hindu Law of Inheritance, Partition and Adoption, Education Society's Press, Bombay, 1884Google Scholar.

86 Enclosure to Appendix B: Memorandum of arguments which have been submitted to the Mysore Durbar in re Subhadrabayi's Claim, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

87 The Telugu words ‘hak’ and ‘badhyate’, meaning ‘right’ and ‘obligation’, were used in this will. Appendix D: Translation of Jumna Bayi's Will Dated 3 August 1888, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

88 Exhibit 60: Affadavit of Mysore Vencata Row, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41 (226 pages with notes), NAI.

89 K. Sheshadri Iyer Dewan to Resident in Mysore, 19 March 1895, File No. 547, 1886: (6) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

90 Exhibit 60: Affidavit of Mysore Vencata Row, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41 (226 pages with notes), NAI.

91 Dewan of Mysore to Resident in Mysore, 10 November 1894, File No. 547, 1886: (5) Sl. Nos. 81–109, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

92 Exhibit 53: Last will and testament of Mahalatchimi Boyee, late of Madras, now deceased who died on the 10th day of December 1904. ‘Younger sister of Subhadra Bai Amma mother of deceased Saha Virjalal Doss Giridhara Doss and widow of Varaja Bukana Doss who was the nearest Dayathi (co parcener) of the aforesaid Virjalal Doss who am the heiress under the Mayuka Law to the estate of the aforesaid Virjalal Doss and who am an executrix as per aforesaid Subhadra Bai Amma's will’, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

93 The words are from the memorial of M. Vencata Row and Mahalakshmi Bai, 2 August 1900, File No. 547, 1886: (13) Sl. Nos. 239–249, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

94 I turn to Karen Leonard once more to assert that family strategies, rather than formal inheritance laws, provide a truer picture of women's rights and capacities within families with landed or business interests. Leonard, ‘Family Firms in Hyderabad’, p. 845.

95 Appendix C: Devaki Bayi's Will, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

96 Patel, M., Folk Songs of South Gujarat, Indian Musicological Society, Bombay and Baroda, 1974, p. 18Google Scholar.

97 Appendix C: Devaki Bayi's Will, File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

98 This phrase acknowledges the pioneering work of Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll, ‘The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America’, Signs, Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 1975, pp. 129CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

99 Petition to His Highness Maharajah of Mysore, 21 July 1888, from Subhadra Boye and Jumna Boye, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

100 In the Special Court of Mysore constituted under Regulation 1 of 1896, Bangalore, 21 September 1896, before Mr Justice Best, Chief Judge, Mysore and C. H. Jopp Esq., ICS, Judgment, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

101 Ibid.

102 Ibid.

103 Exhibit 60: Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

104 Ibid.

105 Exhibit 87: In the court of small causes of Madras: Suit no. 16 of 1904–05 and Suit no. 23 of 1905–06 on the file of the subcourt of Mysore, Deputy Commissioner of Mysore plaintiff vs. M. Vencata Row and others, Defendants, 21 July 1906; defendant and Witness: Gansham Doss, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

106 Exhibit 90: In the court of small causes of Madras: Suit no. 16 of 1904–05 and Suit no. 23 of 1905–06 on the file of the subcourt of Mysore, Deputy Commissioner of Mysore plaintiff vs. M. Vencata Row and others, Defendants, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

107 Many feminist historians have spoken of the early uses of literacy for women in the mid-tenth century. See, for instance, Sarkar, T., Words to Win: The Making of Amar Jiban—A Modern Autobiography, Kali for Women, Delhi, 1999Google Scholar.

108 A letter dated 6 November 1888 from Jumna Boyee to Chirunjeevi Bhoyi Gokul Doss Govardhana Doss contains, among the accounts of business affairs and news of building repairs and so on, some cryptic traces of pilgrimages which the women wished to undertake. Only one personal note refers to the Poyee (grandmother) doing well, and to the clothes for the deity [unspecified] which had been promised by Gokul Dass. Exhibit 63: Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41 (226 pages with notes), NAI.

109 Exhibits 83 and 85: Letters from Gocul Das to Vallabha Doss Thatha Boyee Vrijlal Doss, 7 December 1888 and 10 December 1888, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

110 Sturman, The Governance of Social Life in India, p. 25.

111 Exhibit 59: Certificate T. H. Pope, Surgeon Major, 2 July 1894, Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

112 A. Mahazarnama [in English and in Telugu], File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

113 In the Special Court of Mysore constituted under Regulation 1 of 1896, Judgement, Bangalore, 21 September 1896, before Mr Justice Best, Chief Judge, Mysore and C. H. Jopp Esq., ICS, Judgment, File No. 547, 1886: (7) Sl. Nos. 110–141, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

114 Exhibit T: In the High Court of Judicature at Madras Civil Suit, no. 241 of 1896, Murali Doss vs. Manicka Chetti and another [Justice Shephard], 13 August 1897, File No. 547, 1886: (15) Sl. Nos. 256–257, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

115 Enthoven, R. E., The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, Vol. III, Cosmo Publications, Delhi, 1922, reprint 1975, p. 428Google Scholar.

116 Ibid.

117 By 2002, bride price had given way to dowry and women's rights under customary law seem to have been whittled down: ‘They [Khadayata] practice dowry and the mode of payment of dowry also varies from family to family’ according to the entry ‘Khadayata’, in People of India: Gujarat Vol. XXII, Part 2, K. S. Singh (ed.) Anthropological Survey of India, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 2002, p. 638. It then goes on to say that ‘women have no right of inheritance’: ibid., p. 639.

118 In a letter from Gokul Dass Goverdhan Das to Giridhar Doss Vallabha Doss Thatha Boyee Vrijlal Doss, 10 December 1888, Gokula Dass complains about one ‘Ladkee’ thus: ‘You have written that Ladkee is bound to Rameswaram and that she wants Rs 200 for her. When she was at Srirangam we had to pay her Rs 200, Now if she again asks Krishnu for a further sum of Rs 200 what am I to write? Therefore, think over and explain to her and satisfy her by making a small payment.’ See Foreign Department: Internal B, Proceedings, January 1911, Nos. 40–41, NAI.

119 J. P. Grant, Commissioner for the Adjustment of the Debts of His Highness The Rajah of Mysore, 4 June 1846, Proceedings Foreign Political Department, 30 December 1848, No. 276–80, NAI.

120 Ibid.

121 Srinivasan, A., ‘The Devadasi and her Dance’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 20, No. 44, November 1985, pp. 18691876Google Scholar.

122 Hutcheon, Mrs, Glimpses of India and Mission Life, Wesleyan Conference Office, London, 1880, p. 25Google Scholar.

123 Chinese proverb, as cited in Ramanujan, A. K., Gadegalu, Karnataka Viswavidyalaya, Dharwar, 1967, p. ixGoogle Scholar; on the new scribal cultures under colonialism, see Raman, Bhavani, Document Raj: Writing and Scribes in Early Colonial South India, Orient Blackswan, Hyderabad, 2015Google Scholar.

124 J. P. Grant, Commissioner for the Adjustment of the Debts of His Highness The Rajah of Mysore, 4 June 1846, Proceedings, Foreign Department Political, 20 June 1846, No. 23, NAI.

125 Ibid.

126 Mauss, The Gift, p. 74.

127 J. P. Grant, Commissioner for the Adjustment of the Debts of His Highness the Rajah of Mysore, 4 June 1846, Proceedings, Foreign Department Political, 20 June 1846, No. 23, NAI.

128 Sheshadri Iyer to Lyall, 8 January 1887, File No. 547, 1886: (2) Sl. Nos. 15–36, Mysore Residency Files, NAI.

129 Dewan's confidential Memorandum submitted for His Highness the Maharaja's consideration and orders (no date), File No. 547, 1886: (4) Sl. Nos. 37–61, Mysore Residency Files, NAI. Here he was also clearly following a precedent that had already been set in Madras in 1839, where the Pachaiyappa's Charity was established 40 years after the death of that important dubash, reapplying his estate to the cause of education. See Frykenberg, R. E., ‘Modern Education in South India, 1784–1854: Its Roots and its Role as a Vehicle of Integration under Company Raj’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 1, February 1986, pp. 3765, especially pp. 51–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

130 J. Cook, Chairman, Damodar Dass Charities Committee, 31 March 1899, to Secretary, Government of Mysore, General and Revenue Departments, Papers Relating to Damodar Dass Charities (no date), KSA, p. 25.

131 Ibid., pp. 31–33.

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