Contested Claims: Land, Ritual and the Jogis of Charpatnath (New Documents from Chamba)
The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 43, 4, 2006
24 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 9, 2017
The article grapples with the period of transition from ‘native’ to colonial rule. It comprehends the crisis of political-economy in transition by contextualising certain civil cases and petitions to understand how people exploited the ambiguity between power and authority — between the ideology of ‘tradition’ and the ‘method’ of colonial institutions — to elevate their social and economic status. While the colonial institutions could empower individuals and groups economically, only ‘traditional’ authority could legitimise their revision in social status. The strategy employed by the Jogis of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, who petitioned the Raja while simultaneously exploring the legal framework and the land settlement regime of their British masters, indicates their comprehension of the system in transition. The institutional framework of the latter empowered them, while the nominal authority of the Raja was invoked to claim social status. This strategy, of social mobility and empowerment, undergirds the transformation in the agrarianscape, and contextualises the ascendance of religious orders / leaders who cut across caste and sectarian boundaries at the time when the state was in the process of transition.
Keywords: Jogis, Landgrants, Chamba, Western Himalayas, Empowerment, Naths, Ritual
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