Vedaji Bhaskar Pant, a Military Commander of the Sultan of Bijapur was conferred the Jagir of Arni in 1638 AD by Shahaji (Sivaji's father) who himself was a commander under the Bijapur Sultan. It was subsequently confirmed and re-confirmed by Sivaji in 1677 and the British in 1762. In all, the Jagir lasted for 309 years, ie, till India's independence in 1947. No Maharashtrian possession in the South lasted for such a long time. A remarkable feature of this Jagir was that, the Jagirdars were Brahmins (of the Madhwa sect). Despite such a long period of time, Arni and its neighborhood does not have a Maharashtrian population of any size. The reason for this is simple. The ruling family and other Marathi speaking relatives were mostly confined to the palace and its neighborhood and when the Jagir was abolished almost all of them left. for better pastures. The only lingering Maharashtrian presence is the Brindavana of Sri Sathya Vijaya Tirtha, the 23rd Pontif of Sri Uttaradi Mutt, where the present Mattathipati and a handful of Marathi speakers are present.
A special word of thanks to Shri. Ramachandra Rao Sahib Arni (90), the present head of the Jagirdar Family who has kindly allowed us to reproduce extracts from his wonderful website www.arnijagir.com. All references in First Person in the following write-up refers to Shri. Ramachandra Rao Sahib Arni. ED
The Jagir of Arni was situated in the district of North Arcot in the then Presidency of Madras. Its extent was 211 square miles and comprised of 192 villages. The city of Arni is about 20 miles from Vellore. The direct lineage of Arni Jagirdars after Vedaji Bhaskar Pant were usually named A. Srinivasa Rao Sahib, A. Thirumal Rao Sahib or A. Venkata Rao Sahib. My father, A. Srinivasa Rao Sahib was the twelfth in succession. The Jagir was abolished (after India became free and enacted the Zamindar Abolition Bill 1948) as the first amendment to the Constitution. It is as a result of this that we amended our names such that Arni became our surname.The annual revenue of the Jagir at the time of abolition was around 2.5 lakhs.
The Motto on the emblem "Per Deum et Ferrum obtinui" translates to "By God and my sword I have obtained." True figher Brahmins !!
Original Gift of Jagir for services to Shahjee -1638 to 1640
The Jagir was originally acquired in the early part of the 17th Century by Vedaji Bhaskar Pant, our ancestor, who accompanied Shahjee ( the father of Sivajee ), when that prince was entrusted with an expedition to the Carnatic by the Rajah of Bejapoor. ( Note: Shahjee was forced to seek the protection of the latter after being unsuccessful for 3 years in his war against the great Moghul Aurangazeb ).On the eve of his departure on this military campaign Shahjee was presented with extensive jagirs belonging to the Beejapur sovereign. This was in the year 1638 when the tide of Mahratta conquest first flowed towards the Carnatic. Shahjee had several successes apart from seizing the jagirs around Bangalore and that included Arnee, Porto Novo and Tanjore. In 1640 Vedaji Bhaskar Punt was awarded the Jagir of Arnee in consideration of his services to Shahjee. Shahjee died in 1664. The permanent sunnad ( Official stamped Bequest ) that was given to Vedaji Bhaskar Punt for the long and faithful military services by the Rajah of Bejapoor, is not existing in the archives as they were destroyed during the invasion of the Carnatic first by Zulfiquar Khan in 1690 or by Hyder Ali in 1780.(Parts taken from Marshmans "History of India".)
Jagir reconfirmed by Sivajee 1677 to 1679
In early 1677 Sivajee and his military forces set out towards Golcondah. He met Kootab Shah and negotiated a secret pact for a division of his intended conquests in the Carnatic (excluding those that earlier belonged to his father, Shahjee). The spoils were to be divided between Sivajee, Kootab Shah and Beejapor. With the agreement concluded and with Kootab Shah giving him money, horses and artillery, Sivajee set out in March 1677 for his invasions via Kurnool, Cuddapah and Madras. He conquered Gingee and Vellore and contemplated seizing Tanjore also. Since Tanjore and other properties had belonged to his father he tried to seize them after negotiating with his brother, Venkajee. Venkajee distrusted him and was not willing to give up his property. Sivajee did not give up and continued his battle. Vellore surrendered immediately and then Carntiegurh and two other forts reduced immediately after. Vedaji Bhaskar who was in charge of Arnee since the time of Shahjee, brought the keys of the Fort and tendered his services to Sivajee. Sivajee thereby confirmed the award of the Jagir of Arnee to him. The Jagir districts of Shahjee consisting of Kolhar, Bangalore, Ousctta, Balapoor and Sera were all taken possession of by Sivajee before the beginning of 1679. (Parts from "History of the Mahrattas" by James Grant Duff - 1863).
Four generations of Peace till about 1750
The Jagir had four generations of peaceful existence still around 1750 when the 5th Jagirdar, A. Thirumala Rao Sahib had to be involved in a war being fought for the Nabobship of the Carnatic by the rivals Anaverdy Khan and Chandu Saheb. He displayed such diplomacy and skill in conducting negotiations with the rival claimants, that the famous historian, Orme said of him "..the Killadar of Arnee Fort which is considerable and a fief to the King of Tanjore had conducted himself with so much hospitality to both sides that neither the French nor the Nabob considered him as an enemy. "[Vide Orme's "History of Hindustan".] In spite of this, for some reason the Jagir appears to have been sequestered by Mahomed Ali for 9 months in 1761. However a treaty was signed in 1762 between the Nawab of the Arcot and Pratap Singh, Rajah of Tanjore. This was guaranteed by the Government of Fort St. George and confirmed by the East India Company. This once again restored and confirmed the Jagir to Thirumala Rao Sahib under the 5th Article of the Treaty.
Unlawful Activities - Mohomed Ali, Hyder Ali, Tipoo Sultan, Nawab of Arcot- 1762-1790
On Thirumala Rao Sahib's death in in 1763, the Jagir passed to his grandson, Srinivasa Rao Sahib.who was a minor (but was accepted as lineal heir with the consent and approbation of the East India Company, the Nabob of Arcot and Rajah of Tanjore, and it was also admitted that his mother can hold the Jagir on his account). In 1971, there was presumed to have arisen a rebellion by some Brahmins and this gave the Nabob an excuse to "reduce him by coercive means". This measure was even assented to by the Government of Fort St. George. "The Court of Directors , however disapproved of this arrangement then and in 1775 and again in 1784 insisted that that the Nabob had no right to withhold the Jagire from the descendants of Thirmula Rao (Sahib)" as it violated the Treaty of 1762. But of no result then. In 1781 Hyder Ali captured Arnee and converted it into his chief depot in the Southern Provinces. It was in his possession till 1783 when it was restored to the Nawab of Arcot on the conclusion of a treaty between Tipu Sultan and the East India Company. The matter remained in dispute until 1789 when finally the Nawab was forced to abide by the Court ruling, declaring "that neither the Nabob nor the Rajah had a right to withhold the Jaghire of Arnee from the descendants of Thirumal Rao and it should revert immediately to it by the stipulations of the Treaty of 1762." (Ref: Minutes by The President in Council of Fort St. George dated 24/11/1795 and also the Court Orders signed by "HOBART")
Smooth sailing under British Government till abolition by India Government -1948
Under British India there were no such declared or undeclared wars as such concerning the Jagir until its final abolition. They did not interfere with the estate unless it passed into the hands of a minor (like it happened when the 9th Jagirdar A.Thirumala Rao Sahib died in 1871 and then his son A. Srinvasa Rao Sahib was a minor. The Court of Wards took control and handed it back to him in 1874. The British Government however imposed a small tax (Peish cush) of Rs 5000 annually, when at that time the revenue from the estate was 1 lakh and seventy thousand rupees. The 10th Jagirdar A. Srinivasa Rao Sahib died in 1902. He was very learned, able, deeply religious and charitable. The Jagirdar of Arni Gold Medals were his contribution to the learning of Science. The estate when he left it to his son, A. Thirumala Rao Sahib, the latter was a minor and once again the Court Of Wards took it over. After getting the Jagir back he mismanaged it and once again it reverted to the Court of Wards. So when my father got it back in 1937 he was 31 years of age and fully enjoyed the fruits only for 11 years.
The Jagir was abolished (after India became free and enacted the Zamindar Abolition Bill 1948) as the first amendment to the Constitution. My father was the 12th and last Jagirdar and he died in 1989 at the age of 84.
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