Documents are small openings which help us peep into our former times. It is indeed the greatest wealth for a lover of history and a fountain of information for the person who is trying to restructure our past with a new perspective.
The key reason for the obscurity of the history of Sikkim before 1640 AD is due to the lack of historical documents on which the foundation of History is laid. Due to the lack of such records our history before 1640 AD has to hobble on the way towards its reconstruction.
To be in proximity of the old documents has now become a hobby for me. I love the contents inside the cramped old papers which not only provides me information but also make me to feel a part of the times of yore. I am thankful to Mr. Keshav Gautam (My teacher during my Graduation days and presently a great friend) for sharing his incredible documents with me.
The document I will talk about here dates back to Vikrama Samavat 1943 i.e. 1886 AD. It is a Deed for a land lease to the Kazi of Pathing named Thondok by a person (probably a Nepali Kazi) called Nandalall Upadhyay.
The document is related to the leasing of an estate to the said Kazi by Nandalall Upadhyay. The estate which was rented to the Pathing Kazi is situated presently in the North Bengal region of West Bengal.
Written in old Nepali language the document has 14 lines. On the top of the document Maharaja 1 and Sarkar 2 is written which is later used in core of the document to designate them. It bears a Nepali seal on the left corner and after the accomplishment of the deed it has another Seal which seems to have been the similar one.
An abstract of this document is as under:-
Greetings to the Kazi of Pathing Thondok……
“I have four forts North of Vardhaman River, East of Rangapani south of the Taklapani (???) River and West of Sintila you can set up villages of the Paharias wherever you find arable lands. You should cultivate the fields with your own canal and not from the existing one. And wherever it is possible you should tell your settlers to terrace the lands. For three years you need not pay any rent. From the fourth year you need to pay rent as 8 Muri (1 Muri is equal to 80 Kg) for 100 Muri as well as Rs. 1 as house rent from every house holders. All the Paharias who belong to Char Jaat Chattish Varna, among them, whosoever comes should be given land for cultivation; they will be staying there according to their Dharma. If some disputes arise you have to settle them according to the customary rights prevalent among the territory of Shree 1.
Further, if a Paharia stays at a house abandoned by a Bhutia, the fruits in his orchard like banana, orange can be picked by the latter. The Brahmins should be exempted from carrying loads; they should execute their religious duties and pay the taxes to Shree 2. The Paharias should not sell their cattle to the Bhutias. If certain disputes arise between them they should be brought to the Kuccheri (Court). We are granting you the freedom of practicing your own religion. Our people will never disturb you in practicing your beliefs”.
Nandalall Upadhyay Brahman along with the Mukhtiyars, Mandals of our four forts
Ashwin 10 Roj 5 1943 Vikrama Samavat
This document is an evidence to say that although the British had taken these regions from the Nepalese in 1816 (Segauli Treaty) many of such estates were still possessed by the politically connected Nepalese. Politically the region beyond Teesta which includes both the Hill and the plains of the erstwhile Sikkim were taken by the British East India Company. But, the present document reveals the fact that few influential personalities of the neighbouring countries could even possess landed property in the Company Territories as a personal Zagir.
The above post has been published on Rajen Upadhyaya’s blog
About the author:
Rajen Upadhyay from Namchi, Sikkim is an Assistant Professor of History in the Namchi Government College. A passionate reader and sports enthusiast Rajen is working to revive the History of Sikkim. You can read his blog sikkim-historyhunter
Read other posts by Rajen Upadhyaya:
How cognizant are we to preserve our heritage of Sikkim?
Nar Bahadur Bhandari: 2nd CM of Sikkim
Sikkimese Coinage and Turuk Kothi
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa: 1st democratic CM of Sikkim