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FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
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1595 (a) [to 1598]: Punjab to Doab; or "whole of Hindustan"1595 map
Documented causes: drought
Documented effects: heavy mortality; cannibalism; epidemics; major but inadequate official relief

Sikh Missionary College, "Brief History Of The Sikh Gurus" (undated, c2000)
p36: [Life of the fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev] "Guru Arjun preached Sikhism Many Sakhi Sarvaria of Doaba became Sikhs. In 1595, draught [sic] conditions prevailed in the area. To overcome the shortage of water, he got many wells dug all around.
Lahore was hit by famine causing spread of many epidemics. Its streets were littered with corpses. Guru Ji reached there along with some Sikh families and provided relief by spending Dasvandh [voluntary tithe income] to share the burden of the ill-fated families. Emperor Akbar visited Lahore and was pleased to see the yeoman service done by Guruji and his Sikhs. He waived the revenue of the farmers who were unable to bear its burden due to the natural calamity." [This second paragraph takes the narrative through the course of the long famine, which lasted until 1598- see variant story below]
Sir T.W. Haig et al. "The Cambridge Shorter History of India" (vol. 2, 1935)
p374: "A period of four years of famine and pestilence, which began to devastate Akbar's empire in 1595, did not hinder the outbreak of war in the Deccan at the end of that year."

p379: [describing the fiscal administration of Emperor Akbar]:
"... its object was the enrichment of the crown rather than the prosperity of the people, and we have no record of effective or widespread measures of relief in the dreadful famines which fell on the land in Akbar's reign. ..."
Sir H.M. Elliot (compiler / trans.) "The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period" (vol. VI, 1877)
p94 (Abu-l Fazl "Akbar-Nama"): "FORTY-FIRST YEAR OF THE REIGN [1596-7?]
In this year there was little rain, and the price of rice rose high. Celestial influences were unpropitious, and those learned in the stars announced dearth and scarcity. The kind-hearted Emperor sent experienced officers in every direction, to supply food every day to the poor and destitute. So, under the Imperial orders, the necessitous received daily assistance to their satisfaction, and every class of the indigent was entrusted to the care of those who were able to care for them."
Abu-l-Fazl, "The Akbarnama of Abu-l-Fazl" (trans. H. Beveridge, vol. 3, 1939) [different version of above]
pp1063-4: [Events of AH 1004 (1596 CE] "In this year kitchens were established in every city. There was a deficiency of rain this year, and high prices threw a world into distress. In the beginning of the year a comet (zuzuaba) appeared, and astrologers predicted that there would be dryness and scarcity. The gracious sovereign appointed able men to every place to give food duly to the necessitous. Petitioners constantly came before H.M., and had their desires gratified. Similarly numbers of beggars were made over to rich people (khwastadaran) (?)"
[Footnote:] "Cf. Elliot VI. 94. The word 'rice' is used there, but the word is not birinj, but ba-ranj. The Iqbal-nama, writing of the 40th year, says it lasted for six months and that many persons died of hunger. It certainly lasted longer than that in some places "
Sir H.M. Elliot (compiler / trans.) "The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period" (vol. VI, 1877)
p193 (Shaikh Nuru-l Hakk "Zubadu-t Tawarikh"): "During the year 1004 H. [1595-6 AD] there was a scarcity of rain throughout the whole of Hindustan, and a fearful famine raged continuously for three or four years. The King ordered that alms should be distributed in all the cities, and Nawab Shaikh Farid Bokhari, being ordered to superintend and control their distribution, did all in his power to relieve the general distress of the people. Public tables were spread, and the army was increased, in order to afford maintenance to the poor people. A kind of plague also added to the horrors of this period, and depopulated whole houses and cities, to say nothing of hamlets and villages. In consequence of the dearth of grain and the necessities of ravenous hunger, men ate their own kind. The streets and roads were blocked up with dead bodies, and no assistance could be rendered for their removal."
Max Arthur Macauliffe, "The Sikh Religion, Its Gurus, sacred Writings and Authors" (vol. 3, 1909)
pp189-90: [on his way from Lahore to Delhi, so possibly in 1598, Emperor Akbar visits the fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev, probably at Goindwal]
"The Emperor partook of the Guru's hospitality, and prayed to be allowed to make a contribution to his large expenditure, so that thereby he might secure spiritual and temporal welfare and happiness. The Guru replied, 'The welfare and happiness of monarchs depend on cherishing their subjects and doing justice. The monarch whose subjects are happy shall himself be happy in this life, and in the next obtain praise, glory, and honour.'
The Emperor remitted the revenues of the Panjab for that year in compliment to the Guru, who represented that there was a severe famine in the land and the cultivators required His Majesty's consideration. The Guru's fame and influence largely increased owing to the respect the Emperor had shown him."
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