Swat History

SWAT IN THE YEAR 1862, AS DESCRIBED BY MAJOR HENRY GEORGE RAVERTY (PART 12)

Major Henry George Raverty’s brief work with the title, ‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta in the year 1862.  That work of Major Raverty is produced here on this website for the interest of the readers and research scholars. Raverty wrote: (PART 12)

I had been led to believe from people generally, that the Akhund was possessed of some wealth – but it was very little, comparatively, that we saw; and that little was constantly expended, – that he was constantly employed , from morning to night, ” with is fanatic subjects plotting in vain,” (in the endnote Raverty mentions that “Rev.J.Cave Browne: ‘The Punjab and Dehli, in 1857’, This author, at page 292 also states, “The Swat valley is inhabited by a warlike and fanatic race of Mahommedans ruled by a Maulvie of Moulvies, a patriarch or pope of the Mahommedans of this part of Asia, called the Akhoond of Swat.”) and occupied the world’s affairs. Instead of which I beheld a man, who has given up the world, a recluse, perfectly independent of every body; and occupied in the worship of God. Sometimes he comes out of his house for two or three hours daily; sometimes only ever other day. At this time people come to pay their respects, the greater number of  whom are sick persons. For these he prescribes some remedy, and prays over them, after which he again returns to his closet within his dwelling. If two parties chance to have a dispute, and they both agree that is shall be settled according to the sharia or orthodox law of Muhammad, he explain to the particular precept bearing on the case, from the Arabic law-books. Save this, he has no connection in the matter.

The food of Akhund is a single cake or bannock of bread, made from the shamukah (panicum frumentaccum), the most bitter and unpleasant grain it is possible to conceive, which he eats in the morning before dawn. He fasts during the day; and in the evening he eats sparingly of boiled vegetables sprinkled with salts. The only luxury he indulges in is tea, made in the English fashion, with milk added, as you yourself take it. about two or three hundred poor persons receive food at his guest-chamber daily; and the animals of those who come from a distance receive a measure of corn and some grass. He pays for all he obtains to feed these parties, in ready Money; yet, apparently, he has no income. The offerings of those who come to visit him are applied by his servants to this purpose; and save a few buffaloes, which are gifts from others, from time to time, he possesses but few worldly goods, much less lands or revenues to plot invasion of empires. The milk, even, of the milch buffaloes is given to his guests; and the males are also slaughtered for them. He himself receives no money from chiefs or nobles; but from the poor who visit him, he will receive their small offerings of one or two pice (farthings) to please them, and give them confidence.

The Akhund has a little garden attached to his dwelling, in which there are a few fruit trees, consisting of pomegranate, peach, fig, Thangu, walnut and a vine. As the fruits come into season they are gathered, and a small quantity is placed in the guest-chamber or reception-room, daily. To those who express a wish to taste the fruit, he given a little with his own hands. His residence lies in the most healthy and salubrious situation; and close by there is a running stream of cool and clear water. At the head of this stream a small pond has been formed, consisting of few fishes. There are also several plane and other shady trees about; and it is, altogether, a very pretty place.

The Akhund has one wife, and a little boy about eight or nine years of age, and a daughter. On one occasion, he was requested by some of his particular friends, to make some provision for his family, in order, that after his decease, they might be provided for. He replied, “If they are true unto God, all that the world contains is for them; but if they are untrue to Him, the nourishing of them is improper and unjust.” Indeed he is so much occupied in his devotions, that he has little time, even to show affection and fondness for his family.

Reference (Source Details):

‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta, pages 244-245.

The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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