History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/Suraj Mal’s Great Disappointment
Contribution to the History of Northern India (Upto the Death of Mirza Najaf Khan, 1782)
By Kalika Ranjan Qanungo. Edited and annotated by Vir Singh. Delhi, Originals, 2003, ISBN 81-7536-299-5.
Chapter VII: Suraj Mal’s Great Disappointment
Suraj Mal’s Great Disappointment
[Page 82] Dutt, Ali Beg (of Georgia), and others came, on behalf of Shuja-ud-daula came to the Jat for negotiation the terms of a compromise. The Jat agreed to it, wore the khilat sent by Sujula-ud-daula and the Shah, and exchanged oaths.” The practical result of this treaty was to ensure only the neutrality of Suraj Mal, but not his active assistance on the Afghan side. In spite of the harsh treatment of the Bhao, the sympathy of Suraj Mal continued to be with the Maratnas. He entered into this alliance with the Abdali only to provide against an emergency, and because complete isolation was too dangerous for any State in the then prevailing political condition of India.
Suraj Mal entertains Maratha refugees from Panipat
After the fearful wreck of the magnificent Maratha army at Panipat (14 Jan.1761) the survivors fled southwards. In their hour of misfortune, the very peasants stripped them of their arms, property and clothes. Naked and destitute the Maratha soldiers entered the country of the Jats who welcomed them to their hospitable doors and provided medicine, clothes and food for their relief. If Suraj Mal had not forgotten the wrongs done to him by the Marathas, and befriended them in their hour of adversity , very few of them would have crossed the Narmada to tell the woeful tale of Panipat to the Peshwa. And this he did at the imminent risk of incurring the enmity of the Abdali staking his life and fortune at the impulse of a pious and noble sentiment which would have done honour to the stoutest heart of Rajasthan in her heroic days. All Muslim writers extol the generosity of Suraj Mal: the Maratha writers also acknowledge this: “ At Mathura they entered the territory of the Jats. Suraj Mal, impelled by the Hindu religious sentiment, sent out his troops to protect them, and relieved their distress in every way by distributing food and clothes to them. At Bharatpur was the Jat queen, who showed much charity to the fugitives. Thirty to forty thousand men were fed here for eight days; the Brahmans being given milk, peda, and other sweetmeats. For eight days all were
- 6. Pmad, p.203; bayan-o,Waqa, MS.p.293
[Page 83] entertained in great comfort. A proclamation was made to the citizens that quarters and food were to be given to the fugitives in the manner most convenient to each. None was to be put to trouble. In this way the Jat spent altogether ten lakhs of Rupees. Many were thus saved. Shamsher Bahadur came wounded to the fort of Kumher; Suraj Mal tended him with the utmost care; but he died in grief for the Bhao" (Sardesai, Panipat Prakaran, 205). After relieving their distress, and pacifying their hearts, Suraj Mal gave one Rupee in cash, a piece of cloth, and one seer of gram to every ordinary man (common soldier and camp followers), and sent them to Gwalior" (Bayan, MS. 293).
Did Suraj Mal Plunder Naro Shankar?
Francklin, presumably on the authority of Munna Lal, gives a completely wrong version of this affair which amounts calumny: It is said, that he (Naro Shankar, the Maratha governor) was stopped in the way by order of Suraj Mal Jat, stripped of all his ill-gotten wealth and left to pursue his journey, in equal distress and terror, to Akbarabad" (Shah-Aulum, 23).
This hearsay is opposite the truth, as we learn from the letter of a Maratha fugitive who was with Naro Shankar:
- "Naro Shankar and Balaji Palande, with two to four thousand troops had fled beforehand from Delhi. On the way they met Malhar Rao Holkar who had about eight or ten thousand troops with him. We are now staying with Holkar at Gwalior. At Bharatpur Suraj Mal took the greatest care of our safety and comfort. We stopped there for fifteen to twenty days. He paid us great respect and attention, and said with folded hands "I am one of your own household] your servant; this kingdom is your's and such other words. Alas! there are so few like him. He sent his chiefs to escort us to Gwalior' (Sardesai, Panipat, p. 193). In another letter, Nana Fadnavis remarked: "The Peshwa's heart was greatly consoled by Suraj Mal's conduct"
- 7. He was the son of Peshwa Baji Rao I by a Muslim concubine and professed the Muhammadan faith. The author of Imad us-Saadat says that Suraj Mal built a masjid and a house over his grave. (Pers, text, p, 203).
[Page 84] (ibid). Nothing more is required than a mention of these facts to wipe off this unjust stain upon the memory of the great Jat ruler. To believe Francklin in the face of this unanimous Maratha assertion to the contrary, is to act in defiance of the laws of historic evidence.
After the victory of Panipat Ahmad Shah, having entered Delhi in triumph, contemplated an expedition against Suraj Mal who had given refuge to the Marathas. The Jat Raja sent Nagar Mal to turn away the wrath of the Abdali (Waqa, 184), and hold out offers of submission. Suraj Mal, who knew well that the war-worn Afghans would be reluctant to pass another summer in India, was not prepared to sacrifice much for peace. The negotiations were protracted from March to May, 1761. But during all this while, with cynical indifference to the presence of the Conqueror of Panipat at Delhi, he was engage in capturing Agra, the second capital of the empire, from the Musalmans. After a Siege of 20 days the conquest was achieved. Suraj Mal carried off 50 lakhs in the pillage of the City. (Wendel, Fr. MS., 46-47). Only five days before the Shah' departure from Delhi, "news arrive that the troops of Suraj Mal had forced the kiladar of Akbarabad to evacuate the fort, and entered it" (11 sawwal, 1174 = 16th May, 1761; Waqa, 185). As a solace to the Shah, he paid one lakh of Rupees in cash and executed a new bond for five lakhs to be paid afterwards, i.e., never.
The claim to the five lakhs promised by Suraj Mal in 1757 was tacitly dropped. The rainy season was coming in, and the Sikhs had risen in his rear; the Shah was only too glad to get this much from the stubborn Jat. On the 16th Shawwal (21st May, 1761) he started from the garden of Shalimar  (outside Delhi) for his country, leaving Suraj Mal to pursue with impunity his more ambitious designs of aggression.
- 8. The Shalimar stood near Badli (9 miles from n.w. Delhi on E.I. Ry)