FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1574 (a) [to 1575]: Gujarat|
|Documented causes: warfare|
|Documented effects: migration / depopulation, epidemic|
|Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal "Akbar The Great" (Vol 1, 1962)|
|p169: "When the military campaign was making a successful progress in the eastern provinces, Gujarat in the west was, in 1574-1575, in the throes of a dreadful famine and epidemic, the like of which had not been seen or heard in living memory. Both lasted for five to six months. The famine was not caused by drought or the failure of occasional rains, but was due to destruction wrought by prolonged wars and rebellions, constant marching and counter marching of troops, to the killings of men on a large scale, and the break-down of administrative machinery and the economic system. The historian Muhammad Arif Qandhari rightly observes that the plague and famine occurred not only on account of the contamination of water and air but also because of the misrule and oppression of the Afghans, the Abyssinians and the Mirzas. The epidemic, which was most probably plague, preceded the famine. The calamity was wide spread and covered the whole of Gujarat, and a large number of inhabitants of all grades left the province. The mortality was so high that on an average one hundred cart loads of dead bodies were every day taken out for burial from the city of Ahmedabad alone, and it was impossible to find for them graves and grave cloths. They were interred in pits with earth thrown over them. The severity was equally felt in the towns and districts of Broach, Pattan and Baroda, and in fact in the whole of Gujarat. On account of scarcity the price of maize (jowar), a coarse grain, rose to 120 brass tankas (equivalent to six rupees) for a maund. Grass and fodder for horses and other animals were not available, and these had to be fed on the bark of trees.|
There is nothing on record to show that the government undertook any relief measures. Abul Fazl, the court historian, is silent on the calamity. Had Akbar ordered any kind of relief, he must certainly not have missed the opportunity of praising his royal patron on that account."
[Sources:] M.A.Q. [Muhammad Arif Qandhari, "Tarikh-i-Akbar Shahi"] pp319-321 (detailed account), T.A. Vol. II, p 301, M.T. [Abdul Qadir Badayuni, "Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh"] Vol II, p186 (3 lines), M.R. [Mulla Abad ul Baqt Mahavandi? (title illegible)] Vol I, p825"
|Nizamu-d Din Ahmad (trans. H.M. Elliot) "Tabakat-i Akbari" (in "The History of India, as Told By Its Own Historians" vol. 5, 1873)|
|p384: [events of the 19th year of Akbar's reign (1574-5 CE)] "In this year a great pestilence (waba) and famine occurred in Gujarat, and lasted for nearly six months. From the severity of these calamities, the inhabitants, rich and poor, fled the country, and were scattered abroad. For all this, grain rose to the price of 120 tankas per man [Footnote: "Jawdri rose to the price of 120 black tankas per man."- Badauni, vol. II, p. 186], and horses and cows had to feed upon the bark of trees."|
|1574 (b) [to 1575]: Bengal, Bihar, + scarcity in U.P.|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: unspecified|
|Raj Kumar "Essays on Medieval India" (2003)|
|p128: "Bengal was visited by famine in 1575" [Source unclear, but may be related to the following:]|
|Abu'l-Fazl (trans. H. Beveridge) "The Akbar Nama" (vol. 3, 1939)|
|pp148-9 (events of 1574): [Early autumn, when the Emperor Akbar was at Jaunpur in what is now Uttar Pradesh, overseeing military campaigns in Bihar and Bengal] "Among the events which conveyed advice to the superficial and which augmented the enlightenment of the esoteric were H.M.'s teachings about the Divine mercy. The brief account of this instructive story is that for some time there had, by heaven's decree, failed to be a bountiful rain for the crops. The cultivators and the public in general were afraid of a famine and came with lamentations, and with one heart and tongue implored the Unique one of creation, who unites sanctity and inward splendour, that he would call upon the Almighty to open the doors of compassion so that by the intervention of his chosen intercession good might be bestowed upon mortals, and the knot of their difficulty loosed.|
Thou hast the power of fastening, O Eternal Wisdom.
Loose the knot from the fortune of Thy creatures.
The holy lips uttered, 'Asking and praying belong to the external world. The beneficent Creator knows everything and it is written upon the tablet of fate before a wish is expressed. Apparently, the reason why saints have had recourse to prayer is that those who slumber in the dark night of ignorance may be awakened and enter on the path of submission which is the adornment of worship, and the material of bliss.
The divine goodness towards His servants is greater than that His mercy should depend upon our appeals to Him, or upon our calling His attention to the matter, or that we should teach Him graciousness.
Wilt thou teach God the path of mercy?
Just while this Divine wisdom was trickling from that reservoir of the pearls of truth, the clouds of mercy appeared and there was abundant and continuous rain for a week. The sown fields and the meadows became verdant and full of moisture. The thirsty-hearted were satiated, and the weak-souled gained conviction and certitude. They came to know the sublime rank of the Shahinshah and increased their worship and devotion."