How were the lives of forest dwellers transformed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?

The lives of forest dwellers transformed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in different ways:

1. Mughal Empire also covered forests other than agricultural land. The forest dwellers were called Jungli and practiced hunting, gathering and shifting agriculture. These activities were performed according to a specific reason in the various regions. For example, the Bhils who fished in summer and collected forest produce in spring. Such activates enabled the forest tribes to be mobile which was a characteristic feature of their life.

2. The Mughal rulers considered forest to be a place of refuge for criminals and decided to bring it under their control. They levied a tax called ‘peshkash’ and took elephants from the tribal people as peshkash which they needed for their army.

3. The spread of commercial agriculture adversely affected the lives of the forest people. Outsider’s stanted making inroads into the forests o to collect honey, bee wax, lac were in huge demand and started exporting them in large numbers overseas and earned valuable foreign exchange.

4. Gradually the tribal chiefs also began to organise themselves and they started building up an army. They recruited people from their lineage and very soon commanded big armies comprising even 6000 cavalries and 7,000 infantry.

5. Gradually there was a transition and these tribal chiefs became kings and carved out a forest kingdom for themselves.

6. Social factors were also responsible for transforming the lives of the forest-dwellers. Many tribal chefs became zamindars and some even became king. They recruit people from their own tribes for the army. For example in Assam, the Ahom kings deepened on people who rendered military services in exchange of land.

7. By the 16th century, the transition from a tribal to a monarchical system had taken place. New cultural influences also entered in the forests area.