|(To be Continued)
Currency System in Nineteenth-Century Nepal
During the early nineteenth century, several different monetary units were in circulation in different parts of the Kingdom of Nepal. these were the Mohar rupee, the Paisa rupee, the Gorakhpuri rupee, and India rupees of different categories.
(a) The Mohar Rupee
Before the political unification of the Kingdom, the Malla rulers of Kathmandu Valley used to mint silver coins called mohar. The Gorkhali rulers continued the practice. They adopted the rupee, worth 2 silver mohars each, as the standard unit of account, hence it was officially called the mohar rupee. A Mohar rupee consisted of 16 annas or gardas, each worth 4 copper coins called paisa. A mohar rupee was thus different in different parts of the Kingdom, depending mainly on the relative values silver and copper. According to Hamilton: ''The coin called a Mohur varies in its rate of exchange, but is commonly worth 34 paisah.'' So that each mohar rupee as actually worth 68 paisa or 17 gandas, in Kathmandu. It was worth 52 paisa or 13 gandas in Jumal2 and 80 paisa or 20 gandas in the eastern hill region.3 An attempt was made in early 1826 to standardize the conversion rate of the mohar rupee at 20 annas or 80 paisa in tw-paisa (dhyak) coins, and 18 annas or 72 paisa in paisa coins.4 However, the rising price of copper made such measures different to enforce. As A. Cmpbell haas noted:5 ''In 1816, copper coins sold at 22 gundahs per rupee, now (1830) a rupee will nto fetch more than 20 gundahs, a rise in copper or fall in silver of 10 percent during the interval alluded to.'' He adds: ''Copper coins has occasionally been as hih as 18 gundahs per rupee.''
(b) The Paisa Rupee
Because mohar coins were scarce, paisa coins appear to have been the sole currency in most areas of the Kingdom. In ordinarly commercial transactions and tax payments, therefore, an amount of 64 paisa or 16 gandas was treated as one rupee.6 It was designated as paisa rupee, an imaginary unit of account, to distinguish it from the mohar rupee. There were also paisa rupees of 20 or 22 gandas in certain parts of the Kigdom.
(c) The Gorakhpuri Rupee
At several places in western Nepal, paisa coins were minted on the model of those minted at Gorakhpur in India. These were known as Gorakhpuri. Customarily, 48 Gorakhpuri paisa coins, and, at time, even 72 such coins, were treated as 1 Gorakhapuri rupee, another imaginary unit of account.
(d) Indian Rupees
The circulation of the mohar and paisa rupees was mainly confined to Kathmandu Valley and a few other areas in the hill region, and, indeed ''is far from being common even there.''8 Indian rupee coins were in wide circulation in all parts of the Kingdom and were actuallyt accepted in the collection of government revenues throughout the Tarai region and in many parts of the hill region. However, the Indian rupee itself was not a standard unit during the nineteenth century. Nepali official documents mention several different units in which taxes were collected in the Tarai region. Chief among these units was the Patna rupee, the kaldar rupee, the Farrukhabadi rupee, the sicca rupee the lathshahi rupee, the Kampani rupee, and the Rikabi rupee. Among them, the Patna rupee appears to have been in widest circulation, obviously because the bulk of Nepal-India trade through Kathmandu Valley and the eastern Tarai region was chanelled through that Indian town at that time.
The actual market value of each these Indian rupee units was difffernt in terms of the mohar rupee. The exchange rate between Patna rupees and mohar rupees was officially fixed at 100:123 during the early years of the Rana regime9 and has been used in this study for purposes of coversion during the earlier period as well as for want of more precise information. During the early 1850s, the revenues of the Government of Nepal were collected in nine different currency units, naley, Patna, Farrukhabadi and Lathshahi rupees in India, mohar rupees, paisa rupees of 16-ganda, 20-ganda, and 22 ganda value, and Gorakhpuri rupees of 12-ganda and 18-ganda value. Needless to say, such a multiple currency system gave rise to considerable inconvenience.
1. Francis Hamilton, An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal (reprint of 1819 ed., New Delhi: Manjusri Publishing house, 1971), p. 214.
2. ''Royal Order Regarding Tax Payments in Jumla and Humla.'' Ashadh Badi 5, 1893 (June 1836), Regmi Research Collection (RRC) Vol. 40, pp. 491-96.
3. Regmi Research Series, Year 5, No. 2, February 1973, p. 40.
4. ''Royal Order Regarding Standardization of Currency Units,'' Magh Badi 4, 1882 (January 1862), RRC, vol. 26, p. 145.
5. Alan Campbell, ''Notes on the Agriculture and Rural Economy of the Valley of Nipal,'' February 20, 1837, in Stiller Typescript, a typescript of Reel Three of the microfilms preserved in the Tribhuwan University Library of documents in the Archives in India, vol. 2, June 1973, p. 220.
6. As early as 1797, a royal order to the traders of Palpa noted that ''the 16-ganda paisa rupee is in circulation all over our territories.'' ''Royal Order to the Traders of Palpa,'' Falgun Sudi 9, 1853 (March 1797), RRC, vol. 25, p. 322.
7. Mahesh C. Regmi, A Study in Nepali Economic History, 1768-1846, New Delhi: Manjusri Publishing House, 1971, p. 161. Gorakhpuri coins were minted in Palpa even before that principality was annexed by Kathmandu. ''Royal Order to Harsha Narayan Regarding Minting of Coins in Palpa,'' Falgun Badi 10, 1889 (March 1833), RRC, vol. 45, pp. 37-38.
8. W. Kirkpatrick, An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul (reprint of 1811 ed.), New Delhi: Manjusri Publishing House, 1969, p. 217.
9. ''Order to General Bhaktabir Kunwar Rana and Major Captain Mehar Man Singh Rajbhandari of the Sadar Mulukikhana,'' Poush Badi 13, 1918 (December 1861), RRC, vol. 33, pp. 146-47.
Hulak Arrangements, A.D. 1825-26
On Kartik Sudi 13, 1882 (November 1825), several households were enrolled at Sarangkot for the transportation of goods at the Pokhara outpost in Kaski district. These arrangements were made under the hulak sytem (bhari-ko-hulak). The term thaple-hulaki seems to have been introduced later to denote these arrangements. These households were placed under the obligation to provide porterage services for the following categories of supplies:-
(1) Military supplies between the capital and western Nepal,
(2) Sick persons,
(3) Supplies to be transported under royal orders or the orders of General Bhimsen Thapa.
A royal order issued in the name of these households stated: ''Provide hulak services for thesse purposes day and night… without a moment's delay through the area assigned to you. Do not provide porterage services for transporting goods belonging to any individual, be he the royal priest or preceptor, Chautariya, Kaji, Sardar, Subba Sebedar, Jamadar, hudda, soldier (sipahi), or any other person belonging to any of the four castes and thirty-six sub-castes, except under royal orders or the orders of General Bhimsen Thapa. In case any person forces you to transport any supplies by falsely stating that these belong to the royal palace, report the matter to us and act as ordered.''
The facilities and concessions provided to hulak porters of this category were the same as those provided to those enlisted for the transportation of mail. The royal order also stated: ''Each hulaki household has been allotted a rice-land holding as mentioned belove, and pay rents on kut or adhiya basis, as the came may be, as well as the ghiukhane and the chardam-theki taxes. Hulakis shall also provide loans to their landlords in the customary manner. We exempt these hulaki household from unpaid labor obligations(jhara, beth, begar), the saunefagu tax, and other miscellaneous payments (udhauni, padhauni). Amalis and revenue functionaries shall take due note of these cessions, and not displace hulakis from their bari lands and homesteads which they have been occupying subject to payment of the serma tax. Any person who does not comply with these restructions (bandej), shall be punished in this person and property.''
List of Hulaki Households and Rice-Land Allotments
Name Rice-Land Allotment
Jainya Sarki 35
Kalya Sarki 32½
Jaisarya Sarki 48
Rajya Damai 30
Manarathya Damai 30
Raibirya Sarki 28
Mahtya Damai 30
Ramgharya Sarki 27
Wardha Sunar 49
Dasharathya Sunar 30
Rupasingya Sarki 66
Hima Sunar 30
Bamya Sunar 30
Jairamya Sarki 40
Dhanaramya Sarki 45
Jitiunya Damai 40
Sarunya Sarki 30
Rudra Sarki 30
Ramakrishna Kami 30
Ranya Sarki 39
Durga Damai 40
Balya Kami 44½
Birya Sarki 30
Ramya Sarki 30
Badhya Sarki 40
Deusingya Sarki 40
Parbatya Sarki 30
Chamya Sarki 40
Ramya Kami 43
Bahabalya Sarki 40
Ramachandrya Sarki 45
Chanya Damai 45
Ramya Sarki 40
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 39, pp. 10-12.
Hulak Services from Thak
Srikrishna Padhy and Gokul Padhya came to Kathmandu with the following complaint:
''Formerly, there were only twelve households of Upadhyaya Brahmans in Jugle village, who used to provide porterage services under the hulak system. No other caste lived in that village. Since 1879 Vikrama (A.D. 1812), 15 or 16 Gurung families have been living in that village. However, hulak services for the transportation of supplies are being impressed only from the Brahman households, whereas the Gurung households are exempt.''
On Marga Badi 5, 1883 (November 1826), the following order was issued by General Bhimsen Thapa and Kaji Bhaktabir Thapa to military personnel (hudda, sipahi) deputed to impress hulaku services for the transportation of supplies from Thak:
''In case the complaint (submitted by Srikrishna Padhya and Padhya is true, do not impress hulak services from Upadhyaya Brahmans while letting Gurungs remain exempt. If, however, people belonging to other castes are not living in that village, act in the customary manner.''
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 39, p. 51.
Checkposts in the Mahabharat Region
Traditionally, the government maintained a line of checkposts along the Mahabharat range. These checkposts were manned by local households. Their functions, duties, and privileges were prescribed as follows:-
(1) To maintain checkposts (chauki) and close tracks.
(2) To install pikes, snares, etc. in the area assigned to each household, plant cane and throrny bushes, and dig ditches, so as to make the track unusable.
(c) To prevent the clearing the forests specified after surveys conducted in 1872 Vikrama (A.D. 1815).
(4) To prevent criminals and refugees, as well as local people or aliens, and beggars and mendicants, from travelling through that track, arrest them if they use force and send them to Kathmandu, or, if unable to overcome them with force, shoot at them with poisoned arrows.
(5) Local headmen (dware, mijhar) shall conduct frequent inspection to ensure that the households assigned to each checkpost attend to their duties.
(6) Households assigned to man these checkposts have been exempted from jhara labor services for other purposes.
On Marga Sudi 12, 1883 (November 1826), royal orders were issued specifying the number of households assigned to each checkpost, because the number originally assigned had dwindled in some cases.
The village where the checkposts were located, and the number of households assigned to each, were as follows:-
Village No. of Households
1. Sugahachuri (Jhangajholi) 12
2. Ghyampatar (Sunghan) 8
3. Majhuwagaun (Mulkot) 8
4. Haledyakhani, Phoksingnath,
5. Kasikharka (jhangajholi) 20
6. Rajbas (Sindhuli) 4
7. Marinkhola (Jhangajholi) 12
8. Sindhuli 19
9. Basrabidadigaun (Sindhuli) 26
10. Sindhuli 6
11. Chatuligaun (Patringa) 6
12. Hirdigaun (Dhoksila) 13
13. Ratanchurangaun (Dhoksila) 7
15. Sikharpur (Bhimkhari) 16
16. Salugaun (Dumja) 8
17. Chalisa (Jhangajholi) 8
18. Sikharpur (Sindhuli) 8
19. Kalimati 24
20. Chandaha-Madi (Tinpatan) 17
21. Bhimkhari, Manegaun, Ambalbas,
Magarphudi, and Bhadaure 24
22. Tilpung 21
23. Gadamare (Tinpatan) 8
24. Katyarigaun (Sindhuli) 15
25. Bastipur (Jhangajholi) 13
26. Chandarpur-Bhotegaun (Jhangajholi) 16
27. Patringa (Jhangajholi) 29
28. Chamoligaun (Dhoksila) 21
29. Chaduligaun (Dhoksila) 37
30. Bandipur-Khaniya Kharka (Jhangajholi) 21
31. Dangikharka (Jhangajholi) 16
32. Amanegadu Kharka (Saraswatidanda,
33. Bhorlenigaun (Jhangajholi) 16
34. Jyamire-Bhotegaun (Dumja) 18
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 39, pp. 71-83.
Regmi Research (Private) Ltd ISSN: 0034-348X
Regmi Research Series
Year 14, No. 6
Kathmandu: June 1982
Mahesh C. Regmi
1. The Based Levy … 81
2. Kulananda Jha … 89
3. King Mukunda Sen's Invasion of Kathmandu Valley … 90
Regmi Research (Private) Ltd
Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
(For private study and research only, not meant for public sale, distribution and display).
The Based Levy
An order from Commanding Colonel Krishna Dhwaj Kunwar Rana to the landowners, village headmen, and other inhabitants of Dullu and Dailekh, issued on Poush Sudi 15, 1911 (January 1855) regarding collection of the rasad levy for meeting the food requirements of the army during the 1855-56 Nepal-Tibet war, had been given in Regmi Research Series, Year 7, No. 10, October 1, 1975, pp. 198-99. Additional information on the subject is given below.
Procurement in Kathmandu
The following public notification was issued in Kathmandu on Poush Badi 10, 1911 (December 1854):
During the time of previous Mukhtiyars (i.e. Regents or Prime Ministers), unpaid-labor obligations (jhara, beth, begar) were imposed every year, thereby causing great hardships to the people. Realizing that during our term as Vizier and Mukhtiyar, it will not be good to harass people, and that people might be asked to do whatever work they can whenever His Majesty may be in need thereof, we had not imposed unpaid-labor obligations on the people from the Vikrama years 1904 to 1910.
''Today, fate has ordained that we fight a war in the north. Accordingly, the army has to depend on the ryots, and the ryots have to depend on the army. The troops must give their lives, and the ryots must provide rasad supplies from the harvest of the Vikrama year 1911.''
The notification then ordered the inhabitants of Kathmandu to supply foodgrains of any of the categories mentioned below at the following rates from each household, transport such supplies to the godown at Timure, and obtain payment at the rates mentioned below before the last day of the month of Chaitra 1911 (April 12, 1855).
1. Schedule of Procurement Rates
1. For tenants cultivating raikar, brita,
guthi, and kipat lands:
(a) For tenants cultivating more than
43 muris of khet and pakho land,
irrespective of whether the homestead is
of hale, pate, or kodale category 3 manas for
each muris of
(b) For tenants cultivating 1 to 42
muris of both khet and pakho
lands, or only pakho lands 16 pathis for a
8 pathis for a
(c) Tenants cultivating lands
measured in ropanies, even
if the holding contains only pakho lands 1½ pathi per ropani.
(d) Tenants cultivating only khet
lands, and no pakho lands 3 manas per muri
of khet land.
(e) Landless peasants 8 pathis for
2. For owners of birta and monastic lands of various categories:
(a) For owner-cultivators Rates was mentioned
(b) Landlords receiving rents
from khet lands 4 manas per muri
of khet land.
(c) Landlords receiving money
rents from pakho lands 4 manas per rupee
2. Schedule of Precurement Prices
(At Timure godown)
Commodity Rate (per rupee)
Rice 3½ pathis
Crushed rice 4½ pathis
Parched blackgram (urd) 5½ pathis
Millet (Kodo) raw and husked 6 pathis.
Rasad obligations shall not be imposed on:
(a) Households of Jagirdars who have been deputed to the headquarters (gaunda), in case there is no male member above the age of 12 years in the family, irrespective of area of khet and pakho lands cultivated by the household.
(b) Persons who have not cultivated any khet or pakho lands, do not any birta or phikdar lands, and do nto have any other occupation or means of livelihood.
(c) Households who do not have any male member capable of transportation rasad supplies. In case sufficient supplies are not available within Nepal to meet rasad obligations as mentioned above, those who
need supplies may obtain them at the rate of 8 pathis per rupee from stocks procured from the Madhesh and maintained at Bardibas.
Poush Badi 10, 1911
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 56, pp. 258-65.
Procurement in the Tarai Region
The following public notification was issued in Saptari district on Aswin Badi 5, 1912 (September 1855):
During the time when that district was under an ijara, people were subjected to various impositions (Sawa-dotakki, do-anni, Pancha-Katti, bejgahi, besi, magani), unpaid-labor obligations (jhara, beth, begar), and levies for the maintenance of state elephants (hattisar). We realized your hardships, and, therefore, abolished these impositions and obligations. Even at the cost of revenues accruing to His Majesty, specified levies (bhairo-Patwan salami) were abolished. In order that you may be happly, the amanat system was introduced in that district.
''Today, fate has ordained that we fight a war in the north. The arrangements mentioned above will continue, the interests of His Majesty will be served, and we too shall earn a good name, if this Kingdom remains intact. It, however, this Kingdom goes out of existence, these arrangements will not continue, you will have to suffer, the cause of His Majesty will be harmed, and we shall earn a bad name.
''This is, therefore, the time when all ryots, the army, umraos, and other people, high or low, should work hard. The army depends on the ryots, and the ryots depend on the army. The troops must give ther lives, and the ryots of the hill region and the Tarai must give their wealth.
''His Majesty now does not ask for wealth from you. Your sole obligations will be to supply coarse and fine at an average price of 12 pathis a rupee as before, and transport such rice through a distance of four or five days' journey. Nor has His Majesty asked for gour entire output. Instead, the rates of procurement have been fixed as follows:-
Phikdar and other birtaowners Rs 3 worth of
rice per bigha.
Ryots of Mal lands R. 1 worth of rice
''Authority for the procurement of such rasad supplies has been granted to Colonel Dilli Singh Basnyat and Khajanchi Siddhiman Singh Rajbhandari. Obey their orders with promptness. Otherwise, you will learn that type of severe punishment will be inflicted on those who do not work but only create obstacles at a time when His Majesty is about to loss or gain some territory.
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 56, pp. 549-55.
The following order was issued in the name of Mir Subba Ratna Man Singh Rajbhandari on Shrawan Badi 6, 1912 (July 1855):
With the help of the personnel of the Ambar Dal Company, requisition 500 ox-carts, 2,500 oxen, and 500 ponies, wherever, these may be available, locally or across the borders. Fix wages at the rate of 6 annas (Lathashahi) per sack. From the fifth day of the month of Marga (November 20, 1855), make arrangements for the transportation of rasad supplies from Hitaura to Bhainse by ox-cart, and from Bhainse to Bhimphedi by ox or pony. The carts, oxen, and ponies may also be used to transport sacks from the Madhesh up to Hitaura. In case yo do not perform these functions promptly, so that the transportation of rasad supplies is interrupted, you may be reprimanded.
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 56, pp. 562-63.
Order to the inhabitants of Satthar in Lamjung:
You all know that this year a war has started with Tibet. His Majesty has spent money from the treasury for the war, and troops have left for the front risking their lives. His Majesty, and all of us, will be harmed if the troops do not get enough food to eat. For this reason, the inhabitants of Nepal Valley have delivered supplies of goodgrains at Bhainse, Dobhan, and those living in the region east of the Marsyangdi river have don eso at Rasuwa. You are now ordered to transport these supplies to Kerung. In case you fail to do so, you shall be punished according to martial law (jangi ain).
Baisakh Sudi 3, 1912
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 33, p. 224.
Public notification in the region situated west of the Manahara river, east of Mahesh-Dobhan, north of the Mahabharat mountains, and south of the Sheopuri hills:
You all know that this year a war has started with Tibet. His Majesty has spent money, and troops have gone to fight in Tibet risking their lives. His Majesty, and all of us, will be harmed, if the troops do not get enough food to eat. You have pledged assistance in the transportation of rasad supplies. More assistance and labor are needed from you now. Supplies of foodgrains have been procured from the Tarai and stocked in Nepal. all inhabitants of the area within the boundaries mentioned above shall transport these supplies of Bhainse-Dobhan on the Betravati river by the end of Jestha (June14). In case you are not able to do so, you shall be obliged to transport the supplies of Kerung. Any one who does not comply with this order shall be punished according to martial law (jangi ain).
Baisakh Sudi 4, 1912
Regmi Research Collection, vol. 33, p. 225.
Public notification in the region situated north of the Bagmati river at Tripureshwar, south of Kerung, east of the Gandi (Trishuli) river, and west of the Manahar river.
(Same as above, except that inhabitants of this region were placed under the obligations of transporting supplies of Kerung by the end of Jestha, or, if they failed to do so, to Dzongka).