THE NON- ARYANS AS THEY ARE. 43 ancient system of polyandry, according to which one woman is the wife of several husbands, and a man's property descends not to his own sons, but to his sister's children. This system also appears among the non-Aryan tribes of the Himalayas at the opposite extremity of India. Non-Aryans of the Vindhya Eanges. — Many wild tribes inhabit the mountain ranges which separate Northern from Southern India. The bestrknown of these rude races are perhaps the Bhfls, who dwell in the Vindhya hills, from Udai- pur State far north of the Narbada river, southwards to the Khandesh Agency in the Bombay Presidency. They move about with their herds of sheep and goats through the jungly highlands, and eke out a spare livelihood by the chase and the natural products of the forest. In Udaipur State, they are settled in little hamlets, each homestead being built on a separate hillock, so as to render it impossible for their enemies to surprise a whole village at once. A single family may be seized, but the shouts which it raises give the alarm to all the rest, and in a few minutes the war-cry spreads from hill to hill, and swarms of half-naked savages rush together in arms to beat off the intruder. Before the British rule the Bhfls were the terror of the neighbouring country, plundering and burning villages far and wide ; while the Native Governments revenged themselves from time to time by fearful Bhfl massacres. In 1818 the East India Company obtained the neighbouring Bombay District of Khandesh, but its first expedition against the Bhfls failed miserably ; one-half of our men having perished of fever in the jungles. Soon afterwards Sir James Outram took these wild tribes in hand. He made friends with them by means of feasts and tiger-hunts. Nine Bhfl warriors, who were his constant companions in tracking the beasts of chase, formed the beginning of a regular Bhfl corps which numbered 600 men in 1827, and fought boldly for the British Govern- ment. These loyal Bhfls put a stop to plundering among their wilder fellow-countrymen, and they have proved themselves so trustworthy that they are now employed as policemen and treasury-guards throughout a large tract in the Khandesh Political Agency.
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/47
This page needs to be proofread.