Krishi Samachar- translation

About this text

Introductory notes

Krishi Samachar was a monthly journal published from the city of Dhaka(npw in Bangladesh). The journal focused on news and practices pertaining to agriculture and farming. The Journal was edited by Nishikanta Ghosh. The present volume of the journal was published in 1910, the issue number though is illegible

The selected article from the journal Krishi Samachar discusses the role of Khona's maxims on cultivation of paddy. Khona is a semi-historical astrologer believed to have been alive during the reign of King Vikramaditya. Popular legends suggest, Khona who was of Sinhalese origin was married to the son of Varaha, the court philosopher of Vikramaditya. Khona herself came to be known for her astrological maxims. Khona's maxims mostly concentrated on agrarian practices and house planning. The maxims of Khona have provided guidelines for the rural population of Bengal particularly the cultivators for centuries. This article explore some of the maxims pertaining to paddy cultivation, well-known in Bengal and also in Orissa and Bihar.

Selection details

The selected article from the journal Krishi Samachar discusses the role of Khona's maxims on cultivation of paddy. Khona is a semi-historical astrologer believed to have been alive during the reign of King Vikramaditya. Popular legends suggest, Khona who was of Sinhalese origin was married to the son of Varaha, the court philosopher of Vikramaditya. Khona herself came to be known for her astrological maxims. Khona's maxims mostly concentrated on agrarian practices and house planning. The maxims of Khona have provided guidelines for the rural population of Bengal particularly the cultivators for centuries. This article explore some of the maxims pertaining to paddy cultivation, well-known in Bengal and also in Orissa and Bihar.

[Page 18]

1. Khona's maxims on Rice cultivation.

Some of the popular maxims of Khona pertaining to paddy cultivation are quoted and discussed in this article.

If the crop grows at a small corner of the field, that too is profitable for the cultivator. A little crop produced at the corner of field is more beneficial for the people of the country than bullions earned through trade.

Salt is essential in the land for the plant to growth. So saline land is conducive for cultivation. However too much salt in the land affects the growth of crops. The land that has been cleared in Sunderbann suffers from this problem of salinity. Such a land must be left for two to three years, the annual rain wil then wash away the excess salt in the land. Though the land must be ploughed before monsoon, which would allow the rainwater to go deep in the land and wash away the salt. A poor land situated close to the cultivators house is better than a fertile land located far away. This is because a cultivator then can observe the land continuously and take adequate care.

[Page 19]

There is a proverb on this line-

The proverb suggests, a land where is rice cultivated must be located near the house of the cultivator. A land located at a distance cannot be taken care of properly and the production suffers. The proverb draws an analogy with a short cow. A short cow consumes litter food but produces greater amount of milk. A bigger cow consumes more food and hence cuts down the rate of profit. Similarly, a poor land located close to the farmer is more profitable than a fertile land located at a distance.

The other proverb points out- That an uneven land is inadequate for cultivation of crops, particularly rice. During the rainy season rainwater washes of the nutrients of the soil as the water moves from high land to lowland. Hence there is a clear lack of balance in terms of nutrient content of the land. To maintain balance the land must be plain without any undulations. The proverb compares the situation with a mother who is fit and healthy. Her daughter too will be healthy as well, and so will be the step brother of the daughter.

[Page 20]

There is another proverb which says- A weak cow is inadequate for ploughing the field. Hence a sturdy and fit cow must be purchased for cultivation. Similarly a plain land is perfectly suited for cultivation.

A lowland located just outside the village is perfect for cultivation. The wastes from the village after being washed by rain, accumulates in such a lowland. Such a land can be highly productive with little or no requirement of fertilizers.

In the city of Meerut the sewer channels used to be directed to a nearby river. In 1895, the collector of Meerut after having consulted the chemists of the Agriculture department of the Government, decided to channel the sewer drains to the governmental cultivation fields. The experiment brought satisfactory results. The Meerut Municipality has also enhanced its annual revenues by four thousand rupees, through the sale of sewage fertilizers. The sewage fertilizers enhances the fertility of the too such an extent that cultivating thrice a year land do not diminish it. From our investigation we have learnt that, previous where one needed to spend fifty to hundred rupees for fertilizers now just need to twelve rupees for sewage fertilizer. What Khona said long back is being proved true by modern research.

Khona's says,

before cultivation the land must be surrounded by fence or by embankment. The embankment keeps rainwater within the field and ensure good production.

[Page 21]

The land must also be protected from the domestic animals. The fence must be erected by the cultivator for his own need.

The embankment raised around the field is known as "Aal". The autumnal crop must be sown within the "Aal". Autumnal crop require sufficient water, hence the "Aal" surrounding the field is essential. There are two similar proverbs in Orissa as well. Those are also believed to have their origins in Khona's maxims.

The embankment must be one hand long high and one hand distance in breadth. Grasses must be used to hold the earth together while building the embankment. Such an arrangement will ensure greater production of crops.

The embankment will help in confining water within the fields.

Fasting do not ensure fulfillment of all religious rituals. Similarly, digging the field is not enough for crop production. A land must be ploughed again and again.

Digging the field do not prepare the land for cultivation. A land must be ploughed at least four times before cultivation.

There are similar proverbs in Bihar as well.

A sugarcane field must be ploughed a hundred times. A wheat field must be ploughed fifty times, a rice field must be ploughed twenty-five times. Whereas a field where oilseeds are cultivated needs to be ploughed twelve times.

In Orissa it is said-

A radish field needs to ploughed sixty times. A sugarcane field thirty time and a rice field about 15 times. If this is followed a cultivator will not have to think about end production. [Page 22] The people of Orissa generally favor tobacco. The "botua"(a cloth made bag used for keeping betel leaves, areca nut, lime etc) which they always carry with them is testimony to that. The production of paddy generally completely depends on rainwater. Production also depends on timeliness of monsoon. There is a maxim on Khona on the timing of monsoon each year.

The monsoon of Ashar month must clear all the dusts of the field. Water logging on the rice fields is essential during the month of Shravan. A new spell of rain must follow, once that water recedes from the field. During the month of Bhadra, shortage of rain is needed for the crop to bloom. Again during the month of Kartik heavy rainfall is needed which would flood the fields. If the monsoon follows the above mentioned pattern, the production will be very high. Mother nature do not fulfill the demand of the cultivators each year, as a result production is never constant every year.

During the month of Ashar the land becomes suitable for ploughing. The cultivators generally complete their ploughing during the month of Ashar. Hence a little rain is adequate. Hpwever heavy rain is needed during the month of Shravan for high rate of production. The rain during the month of Bhadra ensures better growth of sheaf of paddy. Heavy rain during the month Ashwin affects production.

Heavy rain during the months of Agrahayan and Poush damages ripe crops. The crop shades from the bunch if it receives rainfall during these months. As a result the cultivators fail to pay to the king and the king has to beg at the doors of the subjects. This means the availability of rice becomes a rarity in these years.

The production is high if paddy is planted during the month of Ashar. There are more number of leaves when the plant is planted during the month of Shravan. If the crop is planted in the month of Bhadra production is affected. Finally the result is nil if the crop is planted during the month of Ashwin.

If the seeds are sown in the month of Baisakh and replanted in the month of Ashar, the production is so high, it becomes a challenge to store. [Page 23] The farmer's year only goes well, when the production has been high. The farmer then can pay the rent to the king and look after his family members and relatives.

The embankment land where the seed are sown before the plant is replanted to the ploughed field, is called "Ali jomi" in Eastern Bengal. In certain places such lands are also known as "Bhati" or "Hapor". The sapling is needed to be taken off from the embankment land and replanted to the ploughed field between the month of Shravan and 12 th Bhadra.

There are three proverbs in Bihar on this process.

The proverb suggests, if the sapling is replanted during the 1st half of Ashar (ie between 10th to 21st Ashar), the production is generally high.

If the sapling is replanted in the latter half of the month (between 22nd Ashar to 4th Shravan), the crop do not bloom at the vertex of the plant. And if the sapling is planted in the first half of Shravan, one must not expect any return.

The second proverb suggests, if the replanting is done at the end of Bhadra, one will get a very negligible return in terms of crops.

Finally, the third proverb says, if the cultivator till the new moon of Bhadra, then he better do not replant at all. In other words, waiting for such a long time won't pay anything.

There are two similar proverbs in the province of Orissa,

In the month of the Ashar the saplings are to be replanted in one line. In the month of Shravan to be replanted at one hand distance between two saplings. In case the replanting is done in Bhadra, a distance of half a hand must be kept between the saplings. If the replanting is done after the month of Bhadra, nothing will yield.

In the month of Falgun, ploughing the field will yield gold. If land is ploughed in the month of Chaitra, one will be able to maintain his family. In case the ploughing is done in Baisakh, tui cultivator will be able to pay the rent to the zamindar or land-owner. For those who ploughs in the month of Jaistha, will be able to pay the workers on the field. But if one begins to plough in the month of Ashar, leavings ones house or committing suicide is comparatively a better option. The significance of the proverb is, unless the land is ploughed in time, nothing will yield. The proverb warns, in such case, it is better to escape from the house or commit suicide than to see one's family dying out of hunger in front of one's eyes.

[Page 24]

If the bunch of paddy is thick, but with necessary gaps, then the final production is high.

By 1st Agrahayan the paddy plant generally becomes ripe and by 3rd Shrabon the Betel leaves mature.

Aus plant generally matures in three months. The word Aus is actually a corruption of the word Ashu-meaning early.

Aus plant matures within 60 days in years which experiences rainfall over day and night.

There are similar proverbs or maxims suggesting the early maturity of Aus crop in the provinces of Bihar and Orissa as well.

Autumnal paddy crop does not mature before cotton. One can find a proverb in similar lines in Bihar.

One can say with certainty that Autumnal paddy crop do not ripen before the month of Kartik.

The inside stem of the plant develops in 30 days, the crop blooms in 20 days and the top part of the plant bends in 12 days. The crops become perfect for reaping only when the above mentioned process is complete. There are two proverbs in Orissa in these lines.

In the month of Kartik no crop is left unripe and raw.

No matter when the crop has been sown, the inner stem will develope by the end of the month of Ashwin.

There is a maxim of Khona common in Orissa,

The inner stem of all types of paddy generally develop in 30 days and mature within 22 days. A flower blooms below it, once the inner stem is developed. The size of this flower is very small. It is very difficult to locate the flower unless observed carefully. But the strong sweet smell that the flower emanates is unmistakable. The flower generally droops before blooming to its full size. The main stem or pedicel of the flower though remains which forms the vertex of the paddy crop.

Within 20 days of the vertex becoming visible, the crop becomes mature for reaping. The reaping has to be completed within the following 10 days.

[Page 25]

If the crop is reaped during the month of Agrahayan, one can get 16 ana or 100% returns. If the crop is reaped during the month of Poush, then one will get only 50% return. During the month of Magh, one can only expect hay or straw; and in the Falgun even that is not to be expected.

This maxim suggests that if one reaps before the month of Poush, one can expect double the returns.

Another maxim says that, during the month of Bhadra, if earthquake follows heavy rainfall, then inundation becomes inevitable. Crop production is heavily affected, scarcity or famine becomes a reality.

A short proverb observes that, the month of monsoon, sunny mornings followed by rainy nights keep the paddy field lush and green.

Again a maxim observes, in the month of Kartik, a little rain can ensure high production of crops.

Another of Khona's maxims declares that, the year in which the production of tamarind is high, one finds the production of paddy to be inevitably high as well. The year in which mango production is high, is generally followed by inundation or flood.

A short proverb observes that, year which witnesses heavy rain in the early half of Baisakh, generally witnesses high production of Aus variety of paddy crop.

If an year experiences warm and hot summer when the paddy crop is immature, the cultivators get excited in hope of higher returns in later part of the year.

Another maxim of Khona says, Cultivation of paddy requires proper sunshine, while cultivation of paan or betel leaf requires proper shade.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


crops, cultivation, cultivator, fertiliser, rain, rice

Source text

Title: Dhaner Chashe Khona, Krishi Samachar

Publication date: 2016

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 17 to 25


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > manuals and guides

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