Social Scientist. v 2, no. 22 (May 1974) p. 20.

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The Role of the Mahajans in the Rural Economy in Eastern Rajasthan During the i8th Century

THE large numbers of documents available at the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, enable us to form a clearer idea 6f the position and rights of different classes in the rural society. The purpose of the present paper is to analyse the position of the mahajans who may be called the section which provided money capital to the rural community.

The Professional Moneylenders

In Eastern Rajasthan, the mahajans were popularly known as bohra —signifying money lenders and traders. The profession of mahajans was not a monopoly of the bania caste; as a profession, money lending was adopted by many different castes. In many instances we find the Brahmans working as bohras1 and apart from lending money on interest, also furnishing maUamini (surety) on behalf of the ijaradars2

Among the rural rich, the ^amindars, patels, mahajans, etc., the mahajans occupied an important position because the peasants, the state and other rural dignitaries depended upon the monetary support of the mahajans to meet their financial requirements.8 The mahajans as an occupational financier class usually concentrated themselves in particular villages, especially in the qasbas, in the villages, in the neighbourhood of towns and in the rural trade centres4 (mandis). In this way they could support each other in case of need. It also implied that the villages were often grouped together for the services of the mahajans.

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