Special Memorandum of the Land System of the Munda Country (VIII)

By Father J. Hoffman and Mr. E. Lister
The following points are of great importance:-
  •  In a broken khuntkatti village, the alien landlords have frequently allotted lands to the Munda for the purpose of gaining him over to their side to assist them in compelling Betbegari, enhancing rents, and levying Rakumats. Again, in villages where the Uraons have crowded out the Mundaris in one way or another, the former have always been anxious to keep a Mundari as Pahanr, because they are convinced that the Mundaris, as original settlers, have a special influence with the tutelary deities or village spirits. To these Pahanr special grants of land are allotted in return for their services. Instances are not rare in which Hindu landlords have followed the same course. The fact is interesting only as much as it brings out still more forcibly what has already been said, viz., that the Pahanr must belong to the kili or clan which cleared the forest and established the village.
  • The distinction between the khunt in one and the same village does not even nowadays carry with it the least trace of such social or religious separation as is implied by the idea of caste. The transition from one function to the other is allowable, and at times become necessary; and this causes a transition from one khunt to another.
  • Membership in this or that khunt does not affect the Mundari custom or law of inheritance. But Khunts are descendants of the same original settlers and members of one and the same family. If a member of, for example, the Pahanr Khunt dies without male issue; his property is inherited, as a matter of course, by one or several members of that khunt, simply because they stand nearer to the deceased than the members of the Munda Khunt. But it would be entirely wrong to infer that, if all the members of one khunt were to die out, those of the other khunt could not inherit from them on account of the difference of khunt. This point is of importance in broken khuntkatti villages which have come under Hindu landlord  It is comparatively easy task for such landlords to drive out all or nearly all the member of one Khunt in the circumstances which have been hitherto prevalent. But the claim to resume land on the ground that there is no longer any male heir of that Khunt in the village is entirely wrong, and is opposed to the first principles of Mundari custom and law.
  • The absence of any clear record-of-rights, the incomplete knowledge of the Khuntkatti system, the remoteness of the courts, the rigidity of legal formalities so unsuitable to those aborigines, the lack of opportunities to officers of acquiring the very difficult Mundari language, and their consequent inability to elicit in each case the proper evidence, coupled with the universal venality of witnesses and the very general animosity between the khunts, has, in certain circumstances, made it possible for the mankis to impose even on purely khuntkatti villages persons not belonging to the village kili or family as rent-collectors or Mundas. Such imported or foreign Mundas would, of course, constitute themselves into a Munda Khunt with their relatives and descendants. Hence the mere fact of a man belonging to the Munda Khunt is no longer by itself alone conclusive evidence that he is a khuntkattidar of that village. He must prove that he belongs to the village kili. On the other hand, the mere fact of a man belonging to the Pahanr Khunt is by itself alone conclusive evidence of his being a genuine khuntkattidar; because a Pahanr not belonging to a village kili is, so to say, inconceivable and utterly incompatible with the religious practices and beliefs of the village. No Manki, or other power, could succeed in forcing the village family to participate in the sacrificial offerings of an outsider.

Read Part-IX

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