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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

English version of Bhagawat Gita in 1784 .. .. impeachment and first hanging by British in India

Hastings,  is a New Zealand city and is one of the two major urban areas in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The city of Hastings and its outlying suburbs of Flaxmere and Havelock North are the principal settlements in the Hastings District. These main centres are surrounded by thirty-eight rural settlements, including Clive and Haumoana. Hastings District is a food production region. The fertile Heretaunga Plains surrounding the city produce stone fruits, pome fruit, kiwifruit and vegetables, and the area is one of New Zealand's major red wine producers.

Ever heard of M Nandakumar and his place in Indian history ? and have we read anytime of the impeachment of [or rather  a failed attempt between 1788 and 1795] of the first Governor-General of India in the Parliament of Great Britain ??  ~ and can you imagine who wrote  this edition of our Holy Bhagawat Geetha ?!?!?!?

Warren Hastings (1732 – 1818), was the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and thereby the first de facto Governor-General of India from 1772 to 1785.  Hastings was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1732 to a poor father, Penystone Hastings, and a mother, Hester Hastings, who died soon after he was born. He joined the British East India Company in 1750 as a clerk and sailed out to India reaching Calcutta in August 1750.  At the time, British traders still operated at the whim of local rulers, and so Hastings and his colleagues were unsettled by the political turmoil of Bengal. 

When a  British expedition from Madras under Robert Clive arrived to rescue, Hastings served as a volunteer in Clive's forces as they retook Calcutta in January 1757. In 1758 Hastings became the British Resident in the Bengali capital of Murshidabad – a major step forward in his career – at the instigation of Clive.  After political turmoils and wars, Hastings resigned in December 1764 and sailed for Britain.  Over there, he lived lavishly ran up enormous debts, and  to restore his finances,  applied to the East India Company for employment. His application was initially rejected but later  secured  the position of deputy ruler at the city of Madras under Clive. He sailed from Dover in March 1769. On the voyage he met the German Baroness Imhoff and her husband. He soon fell in love with the Baroness and they began an affair, seemingly with her husband's consent. Hastings arrived in Madras shortly after the end of the First Anglo-Mysore War of 1767–1769, during which the forces of Hyder Ali had threatened the capture of the city. He was to rise to the level of Governor of East India company later in 1774. 

M Nandakumar, (1705 – 1775)  was a collector of taxes, more so a diwan for various areas in what is now West Bengal. He was India's first victim of hanging under British rule. He was appointed by the East India Company to be the collector of taxes for Burdwan, Nadia and Hoogly in 1764, following the removal of Warren Hastings from the post ! ~ history many a times is crucial and life comes in full circle - in 1773, when Warren Hastings was re-instated as governor-general of Bengal, Nandakumar brought accusations of peculation against him that were entertained by Sir Philip Francis and the other members of the Supreme Council of Bengal. However, Warren Hastings could overrule the Council's charges. Thereafter, in 1775 Warren Hastings brought charges of fraud against the Maharaja. The Maharaja was tried under Elijah Impey, India's first Chief Justice, and friend of Warren Hastings, he was found guilty, and hanged in Kolkata on 5 August 1775.

Life did not stop there .. .. .. Hastings, along with Sir Elijah Impey, the chief justice, were impeached by Parliament. They were accused by Burke (and later by Macaulay) of committing judicial murder; but Sir James Stephen, who examined the trial in detail, states that the indictment for forgery arose in the ordinary course, was not brought forward by Hastings, and that Impey conducted the trial with fairness and impartiality.  The Hastings was accused of misconduct during his time in Calcutta particularly relating to mismanagement and personal corruption. The prosecution was led by Edmund Burke and became a wider debate about the role of the East India Company and the expanding empire in India. The trial did not sit continuously and the case dragged on for seven years. When the eventual verdict was given Hastings was overwhelmingly acquitted. It has been described as "probably the British Isles' most famous, certainly the longest, political trial".

In what some who have not read history hail as a great judicial system that is legacy of British India -  Hastings trial was not just concluded for decades. The house sat for a total of 148 days over a period of seven years during the investigation. On 23 April 1795 the Lord Chancellor Lord Loughborough oversaw the delivery of the verdict. A third of the Lords who had attended the trial's opening had since died and only twenty-nine of the others had sat through enough of the evidence to be permitted to pronounce judgement.

However the trial ruined him financially leaving him with huge debts.  Hastings' successors as Governor General, beginning with Lord Cornwallis, were granted the much wider powers that Hastings had sought while in Calcutta.

Tidbit 1:  The Treaty of Madras was a peace agreement signed on 2 April 1769 between Mysore and the British(Lord Verelst) East India Company  brought an end to the First Anglo-Mysore War.  

2.   Warren Hastings took keen interest in translating the Bhagavad Gita into English, and as a result of his efforts the first English translation appeared in 1785. Warren Hastings wrote the introduction to the English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, dated 4 October 1784, from Benares.
3.  the city in New Zealand described in para 1 is named after Warran Hastings.
4.  remember that in Oct 2010 at Vizag one dayer – John Hastings made his debut alongside  Shikhar Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary and Mitchell  Starc.
Interesting ! and should not we be learning the real  history than what we really learnt at school !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Aug 2017.

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