History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/Maharaja Sawai Jawahar Singh Bharatendra (1764-1768)

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History of the Jats

By K. R. Qanungo. Edited by Vir Singh. Delhi, Originals, 2003, ISBN 81-7536-299-5.

Chapter X: Maharaja Sawai Jawahar Singh Bharatendra (1764-1768)

Jawahar's accession to the throne

[p.98]: After the death of Suraj Mal, the baronial party, headed by Balaram, brother of Rani Hansia proceeded to place Nahar Singh on the gadi of Bharatpur, as desired by the late Raja. But one bold and well-judged stroke of Jawahar's policy brought about a dramatic change of the situation. He sent a messenger from Farrukhnagar with a stern warning to his brother and the nobles, reproaching them with cowardice and unworthy scramble for gain. This was no season,so they were told, to think of giving successor to the illustrious dead but to exert themselves to propitiate his departed soul, crying for his slayer's blood. He would not claim at present, he said, his own birth-right, but would go with the small force that remained with him against the enemy, and afterwards see who deserved most to succeed his father. This threat disconcerted the chiefs and so dismayed Nahar Singh, by nature timid and cowardly, that he fled the following night. With his family and partisans, he retreated to Dholpur (which had been given to him as an appanage during Suraj Mal's lifetime) to wait for a more favourable time to recover his legacy .. Balaram gave up all hopes of resisting Jawahar's claim to the throne and thought it prudent to submit Jawahar Singh returned to Deeg,and was installed there as master and sovereign of the Jat territory. -

Weakness of Jawahar's position

[p.99]:But his position was as yet one of peril and uncertainty. The submission of the old chieftains was nothing more than a tardy recognition of his title. They retired to their own estates unwilling to participate in the work of the new government. Balaram, the leading chief, general of the cavalry and governor of Bharatpur (where the State treasure was deposited), shut up the gates of the fort in the face of Raja Jawahar Singh, and would not reveal to him the secret sites of Suraj Mal's treasure in other places. Nahar Singh was at Dholpur ready to lend himself to any intrigue for his brother's overthrow, and Bahadur Singh (son of Suraj Mal's brother, Pratap Singh), who held the fief of Wair, refused to acknowledge the authority of the new Raja and was making preparations for asserting his own independence. Nothing but a military success, grand enough to capture the imagination of the people, was likely to check the disruptive forces in the State, and consolidate the rule of Raja Jawahar Singh.

He dissembled for the moment and behaved as if he had forgotten and forgiven the faults of his father's nobles in consideration of their helping him to the throne. Sentiment and interest alike demanded that a retaliatory expedition should be undertaken to avenge the death of Suraj Mal on Najib-ud-daula. The ex-wazir Ghazi-ud-din, who had been living at Bharatpur as a pensioner of the Jats since 1760, also fanned the flame of Jawahar' s wrath in the hope of regaining his exalted office and bringing about another revolution at Delhi. But none of the Jat chiefs approved of this design, and the proposition was generally rejected. Jawahir Singh set little value on the armed help of his chiefs, if he could only get money. In spite of his turbulence and ingratitude, Rani Hansia loved Jawahar, her adopted son, with all the tenderness and warmth of an indulgent mother. She couldnot but respond to the passionate appeal of Jawahar and furnished him, without the knowledge of her brother Balaram, with large sums for the expenses for the expedition.

The War of Revenge

Towards the end of October1, 1764, a formidable Hindu

1. Pers. Record i. 352. This news was brought from Delhi to Calcutta in 16 days, on Nov. 11, 1764.

[p.100]: army, second only to that which Maharashtra had sent forth in 1760 to assert her dominion in Hindustan - appeared before the gates of Delhi, to demand satisfaction for Suraj Mal's blood, and to undo the effects of the Muslim victory at Panipat. Jawahar Singh brought against Najib-ud-daula 60 thousand troops and 100 pieces of cannon of his own, 25 thousand Marathas under Malhar Rao Holkar, and some 15 thousand Sikhs-both as hired allies,XXVI to ensure a rapid success. Doubtful of the issue but determined to fight it out to the last, the brave Ruhela Chief had prudently removed beforehand his family and treasure to the strong fort of Sakkartal2 in Saharanpur, XXVII and throwing entrenchments

XXVI. The writers have given varied figures regarding the strength of Marathas, Sikhs and the Naga Gosains, hired allies of Jawahar Singh that participated in the siege of Delhi against Najib. For details see, Rajpal Singh, Rise of the Jat Power, p.163-164, f.n. 27-34. -Ed.

2. Also called Sukkartal, situated in the confluence of the Solani river and the Ganges at its highest navigable point.

XXVII. Sakkartal (Sukkartal) is now in Muzaffar Nagar District. In the reign of Akbar, the entire district of Muzaffar Nagar belonged to Sarkar of Saharanpur with the exception of pargana kandhla in Delhi Sarkar. At that time present Muzaffar Nagar area was known as Sarvat. In the reign of Shahjahan, Sarvat and Khatauli were bestowed upon Saiyed Muzaffar Khan, in whose honour the town Muzaffar Nagar was founded. In 1824 the district was formed by creating a sub-collectorship at Muzaffar Nagar. In 1826 sub-collectorship was converted into regular district. According to 1838-1840 and 1860-1868 settlements, some villages from Meerut were transferred to Muzaffar Nagar. The Encyclopaedic District Gazetteers of India, central zone (Uttar Pradesh), Vol 6, (Ed. S.C. Bhatt) p. 875; for location of Sarvat see, Irfan Habib, An Atlas of the Mughal Empire, Map (political), 8A.

Najib-ud-daulla was appointed Faujdar of Saharanpur on 21st November 1753. After that he ejected the local zamindars around. At the time of Jawahar Singh's expedition against him in 1765 Sukkartal was in Najib's Jagir. Najib built three forts at Pathargarh (1755) in Najibabad, Sukkartal 17 miles east of Muzaffarnagar and Gausgarh (1765) 22 miles north west of Muzaffarnagar. A small tributary Solani River falls in Ganga at Sukkartal. Thus Sukkartal has Ganga on three sides with torturous ravines; on the fourth side the ground was so uneven that the approach to Najib's defence line was extremely difficult, particularly in rainy season. Due to strategic situation of Sukkartal fort Najib sent his family members there. Marathas also could not defeat him in 1759 because the natural surroundings of Sukkartal enhanced the strength of the fort. Iqbal Husain, The Rise & decline of Ruhela Chieftaincies in 18th Century India, p.96, f.n. 32, p. 216; also Tarikh-i-Shakir Khani, 84 cited by Iqbal. -Ed.

[p.101]: around the city of Delhi stood ready for a long siege. He summoned other Ruhela chiefs to his aid and sent urgent entreaties to the Abdali, informing him of the perilous situation. Delhi was closely invested; the Marathas were posted to the north of the City, and the Sikhs to the north- west, while Jawahar planted part of his army on the eastern bank of the river and the rest before the Delhi and Ajmer gates. The fiery Jat, impatient of delay, sent a challenge to Najib Khan, to come out like a man and fight in the open instead of hiding himself in a comer. He chivalrously withdrew his army five or six kos off the city in the direction of Faridabad (about 16 miles, south of Delhi), to allow the Afghans to come out unmolested. Lashed to fury Najib-ud-daula sallied out and gave battle to the Jats (15th Nov., 1764), who, however roved stronger and drove the Afghans back into the city, each side lost abut a thousand in killed and wounded. Jawahar Singh, accompanied by Holkar and other chiefs, crossed the Jamuna and plundered Shahdara, and planted batteries on the side (17th November). The day after the loot of Shahdara, the troops of Najib Khan owing to the heavy cannonading of the enemy left the sandy plain [reti] below the fort and went inside; shells began to fall into the cit3(19th November). Three months passed away in distress and hardship. All attempts of the Afghans to cut their way through proved futile. On the 12th of Shaban, 1178 A.H. (4th Feb., 1765), Najib fought another battle with the Sikhs and the Jats on the ridge near Nakhas [cattlemarket] and Sabzi-mandi [the well-known fruit and vegetable market of Delhi]. The action began with a heavy musketry fire; a largenumber of men were killed and wounded, and again the Afghans had to retire discomfit ted (Waqa, 204). No choice was now left but starvation or surrender; shops were closed and the utmost exhortation of the Government failed to pacify the people. The very next day, the inhabitants of the Old and the New city rushed into the Jat camp, begging for a supply of corn to save them from starvation. This was a virtual surrender of the city - the defenders retired within the citadel.4 There was no prospect of relief coming from

3. The battle, loot and bombardment took place within the first 26 days of Jamada I, 1178, on Thursday, Saturday and Monday (Waqa, 198-199).

4. Pers. correspondence i. 372; the date 9th [an., 1765 is evidently wrong there.

[p.102]: any quarter whatsoever; the Sikhs were ravaging Saharanpur and other possessions of Najib-ud-daula and there was little Chance of the Abdali coming.5

Treachery of Malhar Rao

When complete success seemed almost within his grasp,Raja Jawahar Singh was baffled by his faithress ally, Malhar Rao, "Who spoiled the affair" as father Wendel says, "by showing greater slackness and open partiality for Najib Khan. He proposed peace at a time when the Ruhelas could not have delayed any longer in offering unconditional surrender, and at last obliged Jawahar Singh to consent to it" [French MS., 59]. Najib Khan opened negotiations for peace; "Sujan Misra, Raja Chait Ram and the nephew of Rupram,6 (the family priest of the Bharatpur Raj) went to Malhar Rao to talk of peace and returned (14th Shaban; 6 Feb., 1765). About two gharis before sunset, Nawab Zabita Khan started, and going up the Jamuna, brought with him Gangadhar Tatiya and Rupram to Najib-ud-daula [Waqa, 201]. The two parties evidently came to an agreement but it is not known on what terms. On the 17th Shaban (Feb. 9), Najib-ud-daula went to pay a visit to Malhar Rao in his camp; and thence [after the interview with Holkar] they proceeded to the camp of the Jats, and towards sunset returned to the City bringing with them large quantities of grain loaded upon back horses. [Waqa,201]. On the 20th of Shaban, (12th Feb.), Raja Jawahar Singh marched away to Okhla, 5 miles south of Delhi. [Waqa, 202]. Malhar Rao had the reward of his treachery to his ally.

5. The Abdali crossed the Indus in Oct., 1765 about 7 months after the conclusion of peace between Najib Khan and Jawahar Singh. So the report of his coming could in no way terrify the Jats and influence the negotiations between two parties.

6. Rup Ram figured prominently also in the reign of Suraj Mal. The Marathi chronicles mention him several times with his title Katari. He "having acquired great reputation as a Pandit in the earlier part of the last [the eighteenth] century, became Purohit to Bharatpur, Sindhia, and Holkar, and was enriched by those princes with the most lavish donations the whole of which he appears to have expended on the embellishment of Barsana and other sacred places within the limits of Braj his native country" [Growse's Mathura, 178].

[p.103]: On the 21st of Shaban (13th Feb) he paid a visit to Najib-ud-daula who presented him with an elephant, two horses, and nine plates of jewels and bestowed one hundred and twenty-nine robes of honour to his companions [ibid.202]. On the 22nd of Shaban (14th Feb.), Jawahar Singh received a visit from Zabita Khan who had brought with him an elephant and a robe of honour on behalf of the Heir-apparent, Jawan Bakht" (ibid). Here the affair ended. That he was not pleased with the compromise which was in a sense forced upon him by the untrustworthy Maratha Chief is evident from the fact that he departed earlier from the capital without returning he visit of Najib-ud-daula as courtesy required. He went away to Deeg, bearing a grudge against Malhar Rao who, the Jat knew, had him spend without much benefit 160 Lakhs of Rupees. "He had no other gain from this expedition" as Father Wendel says "than to have under his command the chiefs and the army and to make himself more respected by his people."7 (French MS., 59).

Jawahar Singh crushes the refractory chiefs

After his return from the expedition against Delhi (March, 1765), Raja Jawahar Singh thought it high time to make himself master of his own household first, and to crush the enemies within, before he should indulge in the vision of foreign conquest. He suspected, not without reason, a secret connection between Malhar Rao and his discontented chiefs who had reluctantly accompanied him to Delhi, out of fear and shame. Two old chiefs, Balaram, commander of the cavalry, and Mohan Ram, general of the artillery had almost monopolised all power in the State: the treasure and army of Suraj Mal were in their hands and their relatives occupied all the important public offices. Besides the memory of old

7. The above account has been mainly reconstructed from the account of Father Wendel and the Waqa. Harcharan, the author of Chahar-Gulzar-i-Shujai, says that at the very beginning Najib Khan made proposals of a compromise which was rejected by Jawahir Singh remembering the enmity arising out of his father's blood. He then approached Malhar Rao and through his mediation peace was effected. Najib Khan visited Jawahar Singh in his camp and offered apologies to him.

[p.104]: grievances, and their intrigue to set him aside from succession, the idea of getting enriched at one stroke by killing these golden geese entered his mind. The notorious German captain Somru, having quitted the banners of Shuja-ud-daula, sought service and safety in the Court of Bharatpur (April, 1765). Here was a man after Jawahar's heart, a capable soldier without a conscience, who would unhesitatingly carry out with skill and thoroughness any dark design of a good paymaster. The reputed wealth of Bharatpur attracted many veteran mercenaries discharged from the service of bankrupt princes. Having recruited a powerful corps of foreigners who could be trusted more than the Jats, Raja Jawahar Singh proceeded to chastise the inimical nobles (circa July, 1765).

"Fortified with these helps, he believed himself strong and secure enough to demand with much firmness, satisfaction from those of his kinsmen whom for a long time past he had desired to seize. It was probably with this design that he came to Agra where having summoned those whom he wished to seize, and commanded his foreign troops to guard well the roads, he caused to be arrested Balaram with the others in different places, and on the same day all persons appertaining [attached?] to them were seized.

Balaram and one other chief with him, full of hate and spite at what had happened to themselves, and probably to prevent a greater ignominy, cut their own throats with their swords shortly after, the one face to face with the other. The others were conveyed under strong guard as prisoners to Bharatpur where afterwards they ransomed themselves with the money which was demanded of them on the account of Suraj Mal whose affair they had had in their hands ... Certain [of the chiefs] let themselves be rather killed than give up money, although they had the reputation of having much wealth and were already convicted of malversation in the administration .... Not to speak of Balaram and his riches, Mohan Ram alone was estimated to possess nearly 80 lakhs in cash, without reckoning the property and other wealth that he was master of .... He let them cut his head off after many tortures and cruelties rather than deliver the least part of that which he in truth, owed, and which he could not fail to have very well guarded" (Fr. MS., 61-62). Thus

[p.105]: Jawahar Singh revenged himself upon the old nobles of his father. This bloody affair proved a great mistake and a sorry failure as a means of recovering Sura Mal's treasure. "He was very ill-advised, all spoiled by haste and harshness. A slow and pleasant method of extraction would have been more fruitful. All that Jawahar Singh could seize was not more than 15 or 20 lakhs" [ibid]. This was a political blunder too, which ultimately brought about the downfall of the house of Bharatpur. "This conduct of Jawahar Singh at the beginning of his reign sent", says Father Wendel, "consternation among his relatives and dismayed entirely the Jats in general, at the same time that it soured their spirits and removed totally their attachment to his person. And although for many reasons of State he was almost obliged to act in that fashion, it was, however, very hasty and unreasonable" [ibid, 62].

Next came the turn of Jawahar's rebellious cousin, Bahadur Singh who held the fief of Wair8, "a man" as Father Wendel says, "so courteous for a Jat and of a spirit above most of his race." He had served his uncle Suraj Mal very faithfully and was rewarded with several additions to his appanage. He was wealthy and powerful, possessed a good and numerous artillery, and had in his pay a considerable army. After the death of Suraj Mal, Bahadur Singh believed that he had at least as much right to the dominion of the Jats as Suraj Mal or Jawahar Singh, and showed, by his activity and conduct that he desired to govern Wair as a master and not at the pleasure of another. "And in spite of the fact that Jawahir Singh had indicated to him his displeasure, he did not cease, but commenced to fortify more and more the place which was well fortified, increase the garrison, munitions and provisions, and put himself in a state to defend it against whomsoever would contest it.

Jawahar Singh marched in midst of the rainy season [August, 1765J against Vaer [Wair] and invested it on all sides. Bahadur Singh defended himself valiantly for three months; the besiegers underwent great hardship, because that year the

8. Wair is within the territory of Bharatpur, lying about 12 miles north-west of Bayana, situated in lat. 27" and long. 27°-15'.

[p.106]: rain fell in a deluge. Partly by false peace proposals, and partly by the treachery of some chiefs within, the fort was carried by assault and Bahadur Singh seized and carried off prisoner to Bharatpur (November, 1765) whence he was released at last with Musavi Khan [of Farrukhnagar], at the birth of a grandson [of Suraj Mal9. But two Rajputs (who were known to have instigated Bahadur Singh in that war against Jawahar Singh and had afterwards forbidden him to admit proposals for a compromise, which he was about to make)- were by order of Jawahar Singh, in a manner that has not yet been seen or practised among the Jats - as a warning to others, impaled on the road to Bharatpur, and there remained a long time as an awful spectacle to the passers-by". [Wendel, French MS., 63-64]. This expedition cost Jawahir Singh more than 30 lakhs, rather a heavy drain on the State treasury. But it was not to be the last.XXVIII

9. The grandson, referred to in the text, is Kheri Singh, born to Jawahar's younger brother Ratan Singh. Raja Jawahar Singh being without issue andalso without the hope of having anyone, adopted this child. It was on this occasion that these political prisoners were set free. The exact date of the birth of Kheri Singh is nowhere mentioned. This can, however, be inferred from an entry in the Waqa, dated 23rd Ziqada, 1179 (May 3, 1766). on which date, Afzal Khan, son of Najib, had an interview with Nawab Musavi Khan [Waqa;208]; presumably after his release. So the Child was born and the prisoners were set free probably in the month of April 1766.

10. The original MS. contains a long account of the siege and sack of Wair, considerably abridged here to suit the narrative.

XXVIII. For siege of Wair see, Wendel's Memoirs (Hindi) [[Hindustan Mein Jat Satta]], p. 183-185; U.N. Sharma, Maharaja Jawahar Singh Aur Uttradhikari, chapter III, subtitle 4. - Ed.

End of Chapter X: Maharaja Sawai Jawahar Singh Bharatendra (1764-1768)

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