The Jats - Their Role in the Mughal Empire/Appendix E

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The Jats - Their Role in the Mughal Empire
The book by Dr Girish Chandra Dwivedi, Edited by Dr Vir Singh 2003.

Appendix-E: Sidelights on Suraj Mal's Personality and Achievements

Personality of Suraj Mal

Maharaja Suraj Mal

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In apparance Suraj Mal was "taller than usual and robust, of a rather dark complexion and quite fat". He had "extremely twinkling" and "awe-inspiring eyes." "His whole physiognomy showed more of fire than what was noticeable in his conduct" which was amiable, gentle, generous and conSiderate.1 He was a loving husband, a doting father, affectionate brother and an obedient son. Though he had several Queens, including the famous Rani Kishori and Rani Hansia,2 he was not given to debauchery and dissipation. His noble act of honourable returning the Maratha ladies captured in a raid on the Holkar (1754), may show that he always preserved the modesty of women folk. Whether or not any daugter was born to him and immediately killed following the custom of his father (Badan Singh) we do not know, but his behaviour towards his sons,3 including the intractable Jawahar, was affectionate.

1. Memoires des Jats. (Fr. Ms.), 63; Dirgh (Hindi Ms.) 4-6; Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 318; also Siyar, IV, 27.

2. Of the said 14 Queens of this King (see Ganga Singh, op.cit., 256), the names of 6 have been authentically told to us by Fransoo (Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 22a, 22b, 26b). He enumerates them as below:

(i) Rani Kishori, the daughter of Chowdhari Kasiram Jat of Hodal. She was issueless. She Personally went to the Deccan to procure the Maratha help later on.
(ii) Rani Hansia, the daughter of Chowdhary Rati Ram Jat of Salempur. She died childless. Prof. Qanungo, (Jats, 75) and Dr. Pande (Bharatpur, 59) confusedly suppose Kishori and Hansia to be one and the same.
(iii) Ganga Rani, she hailed from a village Bichawindi, and was the mother of Ranjit Singh.
(iv) Kalyani Rani, She came from the Village Nahani Jhiansi and was the mother of Nahar Singh.
(v) Rani Gauri, she originated from Gori Rajput clan of Amahand and was the mother of Jawahar Singh and Ratan Singh.
(vi) Rani Khattu, she was the khas Wife of Suraj Mal. Memoires des Jats (Fr Ms., 63) is incorrect that he had 4 wives only from whom he had four sons. XXVI
XXVI. See for details of wives and sons of Maharaja Suraj Mal, Upendra Nath Sharma, Maharaja Jawahar Singh Aur Uttradhikari, p. 1-4.-Editor.

3. History records 5 sons of Suraj Mal, namely Jawahar Singh, Ratan Singh, Nawal Singh, Ranjit Singh and Nahar Singh.

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The way Suraj Mal unflinchingly stood beside Safdar Jang till the end is indicative of his devotion to his friends, while his treatment of Imad, Muhkam and Holkar suggests his heroic magnanimity towards his bitterest foes4 -Musavi Khan being the lone exception in this regard.

Like his father, Suraj Mal did not forget the good done to his Own family by Jai Singh. Thus, inspite of his fabulous wealth and great strength, he continued to show his respect to the Jaipur ruler, Raja Madho Singh5 till the latter's collusion with Najib apparently made him suspect his motives.

So great and persistent was the popular trust in his benevolence and humane outlook that multitudinous people along with their valuables and families sought protection in his State in the face of recurrent threats. On one occasion (in 1761), the compassionate Jat spent as much as 10 lakhs of rupees from his pocket in looking after Maratha refugees.

Great builder and architect

Deeg Palace, Rajasthan

He was a great builder and according to Wendel, spent "not lakhs but crores" on his magnificent edifices, such as, the "truly royal" and superb palace of Deeg and the gorgeous fort of Bharatpur, both incomparable in Hindustan.6 He also displayed his grandeur by keeping a big herd of elephants and several thousand horses in his personal stables a number as Wendel says far in excess of that maintained by any other Raja in Hindustan.7

Religious views

Suraj Mal seems to have been liberal in his religious views. It is said that Jawahar Singh's guru, Ram Krishna Mahant Bairagi (who often shared the charge of the vanguard in the battles)8 was his guru also.9 Suraj Mal is credited with building several tanks, arbours and temples in Govardhan, Mathura, Vrindaban and other religious places.1O Besides, he spent lakhs of rupees in Charitable deeds. Incidentally, all this mi1itates against Wendel's charge11 of Suraj Mal being exceedingly greedy. The Jat rulers would always be remembered for their important coontribution to defence of the cultural places in the Brij. Numberous religious deeds were performed by them at different places in the Brij.

4. Somnath (Dirgh, Hindi Ms., 4-6, Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 318) gives exaggerated picture of Suraj Mal's sense of devotion to his friends.

5. Memoires des Jats (Fr. Ms.), 63.

6. Memoires des Jats (Fr. Ms.), 44.

7. Ibid., 67.

8. Nur. 77a. He, however, does not speak of the above Mahant being the Guru of Suraj Mal also.

9. Danadhyaksh Family Papers, quoted by Ganga Singh, op.cit., 263-264.

10. Ibid. One of his Queens Rani Kishori also laid out arbours and gardens in Mathura and Vrindaban. See Tawarikh-i-Hunud (Pers. Ms.), 22a. She and Nahar Singh showed great respect for the Brahmans. See Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms.), 46, footnote.

11. Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms.), 46, 64 footnote and 65.

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Giriraj Gowardhan's importance increased under them and several artistic chhataries were built there along with other buildings. 12

Military talents

Born in a martial community, Suraj Mal was gifted with "a variety of military talents", which "vigorously supported his character in his many engagements. "13 No danger wavered his courage and resolutions as no success filled him with presumption or vanity. He was a gallant soldier an excellent Tactician and "a great captain", as his great adversary Najib-ud-Daulah himself admitted. 14 With "signs of boldness" visible at the very dawn of his career (early thirties), his military fame spread gradually far and wide and even the greatest in the land sought his powerul support. Along with bravery and courage he combined shrewaness, tact and calculation. He displayed a remarkable sense of realism, both in war and politics, He never acted on sudden impulse and set his hand to a task only after great deliberation.

Revenue of the state

At the time of his death, the standing arm under him consisted of 15,000 cavalry, 25,000 infantry and 300 pieces of cannons.15 He also possessed 63 (or 60) elephants and 5,000 horses in his stables. 16 Apart from it considering the number of his forts, the garrison posted in them must not have been less than 25,000 soldiers, equipped with long and short range cannons and munition.

Suraj Mal was an ambitious and powerful man; but his ambition was empered With caution and self-control. Gifted with an instinctive sagacity and strong sense of realism, Suraj Mal fully grasped the realities of the situation and then set his heart upon what was attainable in the field of war and administration. He could perceive the hazards of undue entanglement in far flung areas; so he scrupulously confined his activities to the nearby ethnic Jat areas only, Keeping an eye on the instincts and traditions of his people and combining persuasion with force, he proceeded cautiously to make them acquiesce in the institution of Kingship, matrimonial relations with important families, grant of appanages to the members of the royal family17 and lands to the other Jat grandees,18 and the suppression of recalcitrant chiefs, may be

12. Muttra Gaz (Alld / 1911) 201.

13. Siyar, IV, 28.

14. Nur. 64b.

15. Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms.), 67.

16. Ibid. My Microfilm copy of this Ms. gives two different figures of the number of elephants kept by Suraj Mal. In the main body it is 60, while in the footnote, 63.

17. For example Wair was given first to Pratap Singh and then to his son Bahadur Singh (Sujan, 212, 223-224; Memoires des Jats, (Eng. ed. p.35); Ras Peeushnidhi in Somnath, 4) Mewat to Jawahar Singh (TAL., 114, Also Nur, 60b) Dholpur to Nahar Singh (Qanungo, Jats, 172) and Ghasira to Amar Singh (Sujan, 141).

18. For instance we learn from Tawarikh-i-Hunud (Pers. Ms. 21 a) that Bhunda Ram was given a jagir worth rupees 3 lakhs. For the assignment of jagirs to the different Jat chieftains see Muttra Gazetteer, 201.

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appreciated in this light. These Jagirdars remitted revenue to the State Treasury and heled the Raja in the defence of the realm. The stormy situation in northern India, which engrossed Suraj Mal's attention and his untimely death interrupted the process initiated by him. But what Suraj Mal followed, the rash Jawahar Singh could not. By his premature and violent attempt to switch over abruptly to an autocratic system, Jawahar Singh undid the solid work of his illustrious father. 19


Several changes were effected in the land administration obtaining under Akbar. The pargana of Sahar was split into four parts-Sahar, Shergarh, Kosi and Shahpur. Mangotala was divided into Sonkh and Sonsa. Farah and possibly Mursan, Sahpau and Mant were made parganas about this time. Similar changes were made in several other districts of the kingdom. 20

Unfortunately, the full details of Suraj Mal's administrative set-up have not come down to us. Below the King, wno was the fountain-head, was probably the most powerful grandee, Balram Jat, (his brother-in-law) who held the post of Chief Minister.21 Jiwa Ram held the office of Diwan.22 As already told, Somnath was the Danadhyaksh (the head of the charity department). The management of the army seems to have been entrusted to several officers, each heading a sub-department. We know the names of two officers, Balram and Mohan Ram, who headed the cavalry and the artillery respectively. Balram was also the faujdar of the capital. 23 This leads us to infer that there were other faujdars as well. This apart, the posts of Mantri, Bakhshi, Katwal and Qiladar referred to in Sujan Charitra must have continued during the reign of Suraj Mal as well.24

Apart from the strongest band of troops, a network of fairly strong (three of them being impregnable) forts studded with beautiful buildings, richest treasures and a political System commensurate with the Jat instincts and traditions, the "Jat Plato" Suraj Mal handed down a Kingdom "well cultivated, peaceful and out of the danger of being suddenly attacked ... "25

So long as he was alive Suraj Mal commanded the love, respect and admiration of his people.26 Now even though more than two centuries have elapsed since his death his memory is still alive and green in the heart of his people, who assemble every year (in a fair) at his samadhi at Shahdara to pay their homage to the great Jat hero.

19. Qanungo, Jats, 221-223.

20. Raghubir Singh, Brij., p. 192-193.

21. Sarkar, Fall, II, 469; cf. Memoires des Jats (Fr. Ms.) 45 footnote, 68.

22. Tawankh-i-Hunud (Pers. Ms.), 26a.

23. Nur., 77a Qanungo, Jats, 172; Sarkar, Fall, II, 469.

24. Sujan, 55, 104, 1/2, 194, 219, 220.

25. Memoires des Jats (Fr. Ms.), 67

26. Ibid., 67.

End of Appendix-E: Sidelights on Suraj Mal's Personality and Achievements

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