Shit Historical Practical Jokes

They [the British Officers in 18th century India] had a clever way of enjoying practical jokes, and at the same time indulging their mercenary propensities. One of them would enter the premises of a Banya and pretend that he was shooting doves or sparrows. The horrified believer in metempsychosis would then come out, earnestly implore him to desist, and even offer him ” ready money.” He “drops in his hand a roupie or two to be gone,” says the narrator. There, reader, is a picture of the representatives of a high-minded nation drawn by one of themselves. Poor Civilians ! At least in your case necessity was the mother of invention.

So reading around the history of the British in early modern India I come across this.

In case you can’t parse it: As a funny joke and also a way to earn money British Officers would visit the houses of rich Indians and pretend to shoot birds outside and because Indians tend to believe in reincarnation they would pay the British to stop shooting their dead parents.

Hooray for imperialism!

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4 thoughts on “Shit Historical Practical Jokes

  1. This is actually quite funny. Do you
    know who the baniyan are? The
    oppressive, parasitical money lenders
    who, as a class, perfected the art of
    oppressing India’s poor with interest.
    It’s one predator preying on another.

    1. Haha, I hadn’t looked at it that way.

      Most of the sources I come across paint the Banian in a positive light. They seem placed quite firmly as major players in helping the British expand, to the point where without the Banian no effective governance of the Indian subcontinent would have been possible.

      But yeah, must have been funny for some Indians.

    2. Well, if you’re going to shake people down, it makes sense to go for the ones who actually have something. Robbing the poor is a waste of time unless you can do it wholesale.

  2. Well, if you’re going to shake people down, it makes sense to go for the ones who actually have something. Robbing the poor is a waste of time unless you can do it wholesale.

    I believe the British worked at pretty much every level in India, which was very egalitarian of them.

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