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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 8, p. 208.


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208 BĪKANER STATE
The number of towns and villages is 2, I ro, and the population at
each of the three enumerations was: (1881) 509,021, (1891) 831,955,
and (1901) 584,627. The decrease of nearly 30 per
Population. cent. during the last decade was due partly to emigra-
tion in consequence of scarcity in 1891-2 and 1896-7 and of famine in
1899-19oo, and partly to excessive mortality, chiefly from cholera and
malarial fever, in the same years. The State is divided into the four
nizdmats of Bikaner, Reni, Sftjāngarh, and SCiratgarh, with head-quarters
at the places from which each is named. The principal towns are
BIKANER CITY, CHURU, RATANGARH, and SARDARSHAHR.
The following table gives the chief statistics of population in igoI
Number of Percentage Number
of variation of p ersons
y in able to
Nizā~nat. c yu Population. tion popula- read and
between
ā ī8g1 and write.
F 1901.
Bikaner. . 1 537 194,297 - 30.8 5946
Reni . 4 648 175YI13 - 32•2 3,964
Siijāngarh 3 436 147,172 - 3,712
29-5
Siiratgarh 1 480 68,045 - 18.4 1,262
State total 9 2,101 584,627 - 14,884
29•7
In 1901 Hindus numbered 493,534, or more than 84 per cent. of
the total; Musalmāns, 66,050, or more than I 1 per cent.; and Jains,
23,403, or about 4 per cent. The only religious sect peculiar to the
State is that of the Alakhgirs. It is neither large nor important, but is
interesting from the fact that it was founded by a member of the
despised caste of Chamars, and numbers high-caste men among its
adherents. Lalgir founded the sect about 1830 ; he denounced idolatry
and taught his followers to call only on the I Incomprehensible' (Alakh),
and their sole worship consisted in the repeating of this word `Alakh.'
Charity was to be practised; the taking of life and the eating of flesh
was forbidden, and asceticism was encouraged. The sole reward held
out to his followers was the attainment of purity, untroubled contem-
plation, and serenity. There was no future state; all perished with the
body, which was finally dissolved into the elements. The Alakhgirs
are chiefly ascetics, though a few are family men ; they do not admit
Musalmāns; they consider themselves a Jain sect, and respect but do
not worship the Jain Rishis, and they wear clol:hes of a reddish colour
like the Dadūpanthis. The language mainly spoken in the State is
Marwari, one of the four main groups of Rajasthan!.
The most numerous caste is that of the Jāts, who number 133,000,
or more than 22 per cent. of the total. As noticed above, they held a
considerable portion of the territory prior to the Rāthor conquest, and
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