Jain commercial life

banks at vax.oxford.ac.uk banks at vax.oxford.ac.uk
Wed Nov 10 14:56:55 UTC 1993

>  Bayly: "Tod's Jain 
>  clerk estimated that Jain businessmen commanded half of the total 
>  commercial wealth which circulated between Rajasthan and the Bay of 
>  Bengal."
>Bayly cites ANNALS AND ANTIQUITIES . . .  (London, 1920) II, pp. 603-4 for
>this. My colleague and I find the assertion of Tod's Jain clerk highly 
>improbable. Does anyone on the net have any insights to this question? Other 
>sources we should consult? Many thanks.

I can't provide any sources at the moment, but it is certainly a remark
with the ring of stereotype about it - I have read modern secondary sources
citing older works which make exactly the same point about the Parsis in
the early 19th century; indeed, in one case I was struck by the similarity
of phrasing (I think Tod says something like 'half the wealth...passes
through the hands...').

Marcus Banks, Oxford


> From mehta at kc235-2.mgmt.purdue.edu 10 1993 Nov U 10:26:55
Date: 10 Nov 1993 10:26:55 U
From: "Mehta, Shailendra" <mehta at kc235-2.mgmt.purdue.edu>
Subject: RE: Jain commercial life

There is one source which comes to mind immediately, and that is the paper by
Devara, where he chronicles the fortunes of many commercial lineages. Here is
the full reference:

AUTHOR: Devara, Ji. Esa. Ela., 1944-
TITLE: A rethinking on the politics of commercial society in pre
-colonial India [microform] : transition from Mut Saddi to
Marwari / by G.S.L. Devra.
PUB. INFO: New Delhi : Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 1987.
DESCRIPTION: 87 p. ; 28 cm.
SERIES: Occasional papers on history and society ; no. 38

SUBJECTS: *S1 Merchants--India.
*S2 Marwaris.
*S3 India--Economic conditions--1500-1765.

Other than that the best sources would be the chronicles of the various jatis,
but these would be in Hindi or Marwari and probably unavailable outside India,
though I did see a few notices in the MLBD newsletter. I am sure that you have
seen Timberg's book though, on the Marwaris, which should also have a lot of
relevant material.

But it is important to realize that the Jain dominance was not limited to the
commercial field. Many of the Prime ministers (diwans) of the Rajput kingdoms
were Jains. There is a Rajasthani saying to the effect that giving over the
administration of a kingdom to a Rajput is to invite disaster. What is even
more  interesting is that many of the *army commanders* in Rajasthan were also
Jains. This fact is not so surprising if one notes that many Jains in Rajasthan
were converts from Rajput clans, and that many interpretations of Jainism
allowed 'pratidrohi hinsa'.

Shailendra Raj Mehta.


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