The Jats - Their Role in the Mughal Empire/Chapter V
|Digitized & Wikified by: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)|
- 1 The emergence of Badan Singh
- 2 Strategy of Badan Singh
- 3 Control over the local Chieftains
- 4 The relations between Jai Singh and Badan Singh
- 5 Main events of the subsequent Jat expansion
- 6 Surajmal's patronage to Balram Jat
- 7 Surajmal's actions on the other side of Yamuna
- 8 Suraj Mal responds to Bhim Singh Jat of Gohad
- 9 Capture of Alwar fort from Rajputs
- 10 Jat Kingdom At The End Of Badan Singh's Reign
- 11 Jat Forts
- 12 Character And Achievements Of Badan Singh
The emergence of Badan Singh
[p.95]: The emergence of Thakur Badan Singh as the leader of the Jats, marks the dawn of a new era in their history. It signalled the ascendancy of the forces of stable conquest and steady growth over those of dubious and erratic expansion.1 However, the situation that he inherited was difficult,2 if not "almost hopeless".3 Far from being a homogenous unit,4 the Jats, so accustomed to clannish and individual independence, were broadly divided on policy matters into two hostile camps. Dispossessed Muhkam Singh with his continual machinations to regain the leadership posed a potential threat to the new chief. There is little doubt that the adherents of Churaman and his sons, like Khema,5 Bhure Singh and Daya Ram6 of Mendu.XV
1. Iqbal, 210; Memoires des Jats, 16, Qanungo, Jats, 60; Bhatnagar, Jai Singh, 103.
2. Author's article, 'Badan Singh Ke Kal Main Bharatpur Ka Pradeshik Vistar' (Hindi), Uplabdhi, (Samvat 2025), 66.
3. Contra see Sarkar, Fall, II, 427.
4. Author's article referred to above.
5. We have no definite information about the doings of Khema during Jai Singh's second seige of Thun. However, we do come across a reference in Shah nama Munawwar Kalam (Shivdas 103), showing Khema offering presents (two mohars) to the Emperor along with the imperial grandees just before the Nauroze festival in 1133 A.H. (C. third week of July, 1721). This leads us to infer that this chieftain continued to pretend his loyalty and thereby escaped being chastised by Jai Singh.
6. Bhure Singh and Daya Ram respectively were the son and grandson of Nanda Jat (see Imad, 82). It seems that Nanda died at this time for we do not find his name being mentioned any more-leaving Bhure and Daya Ram as his successors at Mendu.
XV. The author mis-takes Mendu for Mudsan, the fort of the successors of Nand Ram Jat of Thenua clan. Suraj Mal crushed the Bhadoria Rajputs of Agra district and the Porach Rajput taluqdar of Mendu in Aligarh district. He did not spare even independent Jat Zamindar of Mudsan, and evicted him from his fort. See J.N. Sarkar, Fall, II, (1991 ed.) p. 266; Allygurh Statistics, 239; S.PD., XXI, 100 and XXVII, 206; Rajwade I, 285, 295.
Mendu is situated 20 miles south, Hathras, 22 miles south of Aligarh, both on N. Rly. and Mudsan lies 7 miles west of Hathras. For correct situation of these places, see, J.M. Siddiqi, Aligarh District: A Historical Survey, 110, 113 fn. 4, 207, f.n. 6,210 f.n. 7, 211 f.n. 6.
Jagbir Singh informs that Raja of Mudsan shifted to Sasni about 12 miles east of Mudsan. Suraj Mal put Mendu under the control of Daya Ram/ Baran Singh of Hathras. After the death of Maharaja Suraj Mal his successor Jawahar Singh handed over Mudsan again to Raja of Sasni, who returned back to his old fort. Jagbir Singh, The Jat Rulers of Upper Doab, p.128 also 9. For the detailed history of the successors of Nand Ram called Nanda Jat of Thenua clan and the description of their garhis- Mudsan, Hathras, Sasni, Beswan and Tochhigarh etc. See Jagbir Singh's said book. I am familiar with all these places.-Editor.
[p.96]: Chhatar Singh and the chief of Motia (near Fatehpur),7 were on the look out for re-installing either Muhkam or asserting their own authority or both. Acquisition of booty and protection against the Mughals had been the magic-bond of Churaman and his successor (to increase their following).
But since Badan Singh did not mean to plunder,8 the Jats, used to the ways Of Churaman, must have kept themselves aloof from him. Moreover, there is little to show that solidarity, based upon devotion to a common superior, prevailed even among those who had all through supported him. In fact, all the chieftains kept their own band of troops? and were determined to preserve as far as possible their separate existence. Consequently, power and wealth lay disperses among various Jat headmen.10Then again, some system of administration had also to be evolved,if Badan Singh aimed at establishing an independent state. Churaman, with all his worth, had done little in this direction. Finally in order to buttress his image, he had also to repel the likely impression11 that he was Jai Singh's parasite or worthless weakling.12
Thus, the task of Badan Singh was onerous indeed. But gifted as he was with bravery, perseverance, "unrivaled wisdom and cunning"13 he rose equal to it. Internal consolidation and territorial expansion being out of scope of this study, we may analyse only the relevant facts for a
7. This can be clearly inferred from his intimacy with the rebel, Khema Jat. See Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 21 a-21 b.
9. Infra, f.n. 22-32 of this chapter.
9 Ajaib, 122; cf. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 15a.
10. Memoires des Jats, 17.
11. Badan Singh's apprehensions have come true in the belief of some modern scholars like Sarkar who states (Fall, II, 428) him to have been "raised from the dust" by Jai Singh. This is, for the most part, untenable. Whatever the measure of Jai Singh's assistance, a personage who led the rival group against redoubted Churaman and Muhkam Singh can hardly be deemed to be so low lying.
12. Memoires des Jat, 16-17
13. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 14b; Dirgh Nagar Varnan, 3-4; Ras Peeushnidhi and Madhav Vinod in Somnath-3-4, 318; cf. Memoires des Jats, 16.
[p.97]: proper appreciation of his role in the imperial affairs. To begin with, his political ideology, (endorsed by his able successor, Suraj Mal as Well) was that the Jat power could be integrated" and thus made stronger under only one leader.14More precisely, conscious of the need of a unified political system, Badan Singh wanted to transform his princely insignia into the "reality of a sovereign power".15 This presupposed his reducing different Jat headmen to submission, after seizing their estates and wealth. But any such endeavour had to be reconciled to their deep-rooted democratic and individualistic temper. Added to it, was the fear of the possible Mughal opposition.
Strategy of Badan Singh
Badan Singh, therefore, began cautiously, combining coercion with conciliation, force with appeasement and princely grandeur with humility. He raised a well equipped force consisting of infantry and cavalry.16 In place of Thun, Sogar and Sinsini17 destroyed earlier,he began building new forts at Deeg and Kumbher, the foundation of the former having been laid by Jai Singh.18
With a view to enhancing his power and position, he almost like Tudor Henry VII of England, contracted political marriages in the families of the leading chieftains such as those of Kama and Sahar19 and possibly of Salempur, Hodal, Bachhamadi and Pathena.20 He, however, meted out a different treatment to those who did not submit even after persuasion. The hardcore followers of Churaman and Muhkam Singh largely fell in this Category. Their independent existence and pro-Muhkam predilections, besides hindering expansion and stability also constituted a serious threat to his own existence. Further, having had a taste of predatory life in the past, they apparently still persisted with it.
There is little room for suspicion that it were these rapacious chieftains, as also the local malefactors who perpetrated all that loot which Wendel
14. Memoires des Jats, 29.
15. Sarkar, Fall, II, 428-429; Also Qanungo, Jats, 60.
16. Memoires des Jats, 17.
17. Badan Singh was Jai Singh's favourite and an accomplice at the time. Hence, Wendel (Memoires des Jats, 19) seems to be mistaken in supposing that Sinsini, the paternal place of the Sinsiniwara ruling chiefs and currently in the possession of Badan Singh himself, was also destroyed.
18. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 19a; Sujan; 217 and 219; Memoires des Jats, 19 and 27; Also Dirgh, 1-2.
19. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 19a, 20a; Qanungo, Jats, 61, Sarkar, Fall, II, 432.
20. Badan Singh had many Queens and of his several sons only Suraj Mal had six (almost all of them married during the life time of Badan Singh). It is not possible to state how many of these were received in marriage, we keeping the above object in view. The places Cited above were owned by those chiefs, who, are told, had married their daughters with Suraj Mal. Vide Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 22a-22b, 26b; Pathena Raso, quoted by Ganga Singh, op.cil., 100; Memoires des Jats, 63, cf. TAH. 23a.
[p.98]: mistakenly imputes exclusively to Badan Singh. He asserts that amidst the administrative disorder, following Sayyid's usurpation of power, Badan Singh roamed with impunity, depopulating villages, demolishing houses, gardens, mosques, tombs, statues etc., lifting girders, stones, lime in a word everything deemed useful for building purposes. The armed Jat robbers, in bands of two to three hundred, carrying axes and torches and blowing trumpets, pounded on the houses of the wealthiest.21 At another place, Badan Singh is charged with deputing a part of his force in robbing the countryside, the road to Delhi and the outskirts of Agra. Wendel's obsession with Badan Singh seems to be getting out of hands, when he makes that chief surpass even notorious Churaman in what he calls-cruelty and robbery, arguing that his bands were more numerous, more daring and better sustained and consequently they wrought widespread and irredemiable havoc.22
This allegation is mostly distorted and seems to be based on hearsay. That the Jat leader grabbed booty23 and confiscated wealth and estates of his enemies, is undeniable. But wanton and unparalleled pillage and robbery looks incredible in case of a man who himself even at the risk of his life, had opposed it and other nefarious trends in the days of Churaman and Muhkam Singh. In juxtaposing the case of the Sayyids here, Wendel appears to place the alleged havoc in the first few years of the reign of Muhammad Shah which mostly coincided, with the activities of Muhkam Singh. However, true in the context of a later period, at least during these days Badan Singh just did not have all the means of Churaman to be believed to have outclassed the latter in armed strength, which Wendel links with plunder. In fact, Father Wendel is himself contradictory in his statements. Here he talks of Badan Singh's armed superiority while at the other place he acknowledges that he started keeping infantry only "gradually".24 Similarly, on the one hand he accuses Badan Singh and his men of cruelty, while on the other he concedes "sweet, humble and submissive" manners of that leader, which were "so contrary to those of others".25 It is, therefore, risky to accept Wendel with approbation26 when he himself is not quite sure of what he makes us believe.
21. Memoires des Jats, 20.
22. Memoires des Jats, 17; Also Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 4b.
23. Once Badan Singh himself admitted it by implication. See Sujan, 217.
24. Memoires des Jats, 17.
25. Memoires des Jats, 16.
[p.99]: Fortunately, we also have contemporary evidence to disprove Wendel's notion. Testifying Badan Singh's repugnance to predatory life, Iqbalnama emphatically states that he: "Sowed the seeds of happiness and made the plant of virtues green. He acted in a way contrary to the habits and practices of his predecessors ... who had been accustomed to .. ':'plunder ... (and) ... who practised theft and robberies as highwaymen."27
A later authority (Shah Nawaz Khan), though one of the most relentless critics of the Jats, also corroborates it, saying that the Jats under Badan Singh gave up their marauding practices.28 It is also significant that the Polish historian who took note of loot by some other Jat chiefs, is absolutely silent about Badan Singh. Further, if Badan Singh really indulged in highway robbery, the normal traffic on the roads was bound to be suspended, a fact which even Wendel has not suggested about, much less to prove. On the contrary, we learn from an eye w1tness that Suraj Mal during the reign of his father ensured continual flow of traffic on the highways passing through the Jat sphere of influence.29 Likewise, the other contemporary authorities ( Tewerikb-i-Ahmad Shahi and Tarikh-i-Alamgir Sahi) testify that Badan Singh's principality had been an extremely safe place, where in face of the external dangers, the terror-stricken people of the Capital fled for shelter and the Jats not only protected them but also treated them well.30 If Badan Singh had really let loose the reign of loot and terror, one wonders how did the numerous refugees willingly chose to throw themselves inextricably within a notorious robber's den. The fact is that probably nowhere in contemporary Hindustan wealth and honour of the people was as safe as it was in the reign of Badan Singh and Suraj Mal, where, as is to be noticed, on several occasions, the multitudes in their dire distress flocked to. This needs no streess that they were inspired with the humane outlook of the ruler concerned and the measure of peace and order that he was able to enforce in his realm. This confidence was not generated overnight nor the political stability achieved accidentally. Both were the gradual offshoots of the benign attitude and policies that Badan Singh and his regent Suraj Mal had adopted at the very start. Thus, apart from the positive written proof, the circumstancial evidence is also there to confute Wendel's notion regarding Badan Singh. Loot and robbery,was never his policy nor was he in, any way personally
27. Iqbal, 210.
28. M.U., I, 441.
29. Sujan, 10.
30. Tawarikh-i-Alamgir Sani, Anon. (R.S.L. Sitamau Ms.), 166; TAH, 33a.
[p.100]: associated with it.31 At best the only thing relevant in Wendel's version may be that during the traditional phase of his leadership ,Badan Singh did not possess sufficient strength to control plundering by the local malefactors32 and other chieftains and hence for the time being he was obliged to get on with them.
Control over the local Chieftains
In the light of contemporary evidence, the only point that looks relevant in Wendel's version is the occasional outburst of loot and lawlessness in the countryside of Agra. Much of the turbulence was engineered by the rapacious chieftains like Khema Jat, whom, Fransoo calls, "a notorious robber.33 In sticking to their familiar ways, they not only gratified their lust for money but apparently also attempted to sabotage the plans of their enemy, Badan Singh.
That Jat leader could have hardly remained for long, a silent spectator of their pernicious activities. He proceeded to deal with them as soon as he mustered up adequate strength. Vijay Ram Garasia, the chief of Pathena, being a close associate of Churaman and his sons, had in past and still opposed Badan Singh. In an attempt to bring the Garasia close to him, he married Suraj Mal with his daughter, Kalyan Kaur (Kalyani).34 But this conciliatory step failed to mend his ways. Thereupon, he granted Pathena as a jagir to Shardul (the son of Ati Ram of Halaina) whom he had earlier won over to his side. Shardul killed Vijay Ram and held Pathena under Badan Singh.35 Similarly, he got Bhure Singh and Daya Ram of Mendu, subdued (c. 1730) by Suraj Mal. 36,XVI Then came the turn of yet another strong partisan of Churaman, Thakur Khema Jat of Fatehpur. In 1733, Suraj Mal attacked him and demolished his garhi at that place. But Khema was not killed in the action as is commonly believed.37He lived on for some time more till Suraj Mal managed his end through Bhunda Ram Jat of Arig (c. 1753).38 It is said that Badan
31. Prof. K.R. Qanungo (Jats., 60 and 62) rightly remarks that "sincerely desirous of promoting the arts of peace". Badan Singh had "no taste for a predatory life" and that he "meant to rule and not plunder ... like his predecessors". Also see Bhatnagar, Jai Singh, 103.
32. To cite one instance, on 8th July, 1723, an organised Jat band looted near Nakita, a two storeyed carriage loaded with cotton bales. Akhbarat 15th Shawwal, 5th year of Muhammad Shah's reign.
33. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20b.
34. That one of the Queens of Suraj Mal bore the name of Kalyani is substantiated by Fransoo, See Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 22b.
35. Pathena Raso, quoted by Ganga Singh, op.cit., 100-101 also 91.
XVI. Poet Sudan does not mention these names because Mendu does not belong to them. Mudsan was the stronghold of the successors of Nanda Jat i.e. Bhure Singh and Daya Ram. See for details, Ch. V, f.n. XV.-Editor.
37. U.N. Sharma Itihas 325-330; Qanungo, Jats, 65-66; Pande, Bharatpur, 46.
38. For details see Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20b-21 b.
[p.101]:Singh also removed from his way Chhatar Singh, who had been "the right hand" of Churaman.39 Sometime early in 1730 Suraj Mal crushed the Sikarwar and Gujar miscreants of Bayana and Rupbas. He demolished their fortresses and established his authority over the region. This was formally handed over to Badan Singh on a promise to pay an annual tribute and then the construction of the fort at Wair was taken up. This place was given as a jagir to Pratap Singh.40
If he could succeed in toppling down such redoubtable chieftains, it was not at all difficult for him to reduce the petty ones to the level of common Jats. By and by he established his hegemony over the area approximating to Agra and Mathura districts. From the status of a zammdar he became a small Raja, strong enough to manage his business and inspire awe among his neighbours.41 He increased his forces as he gained new territories. The construction-of new forts also continued side by side. He furnished his strongholds partll with small cannons seized from others but mostly with self-designed large cannons. 42
Hoarding wealth underground was a practice fairly popular among the Jats. Hence, there is sufficient ground to accept the then current belief that Badan Singh had his luck in discovering treasures of of Churaman and his other predecessors. This largely enabled him to meet his immense" expenditure.43Meanwhile, Badan Singh also started keeping a harem befitting a King.44
Once he became the undisputed strongman in his home, Badan Singh set himself to expanding his possessions and authority, following the general practice of the age.45 Apart from his own commendable resourcefulness and uncanny wisdom, three other factors that facilitated his bid, were the lethargy and growing imbecility of the Mughals, the good will and patronage of Jai Singh and the invaluable services of Suraj Mal as also of Pratap Singh.46 Here, we shall take up the last two factors leaving the first one to be discussed in the following chapters.
The relations between Jai Singh and Badan Singh
The relations between Jai Singh and Badan Singh continued to be close till the death of the Rajput ruler in 1713. Several factors obliged the Jat chief to remain friendly to, and keep on courting the favour of
39. Ganga Singh op.cit., 99-100.
41. Memoires des Jats, 17 and 29; Also Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 18b; Sarkar, Fall, II, 429.
42. Memoires des Jats, 17,27,29.
43. Ibid., 18.
44. Memoires des Jats, 20-21; Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20a.
45. Memoires des Jats, 17.
46. Author's article, 'Badan Singh ke Kal main Bharatpur Ka Pradeshik Vistar,. Uplabdhi., 65-66.
[p.102]: the Raja. First, he was grateful to him for his role in his political ascendancy. Second, his intimacy with Jai Singh could serve as a counterpoise to Muhkam Singh's intrigues against him. Third, Jai Singh happened to be one the most influential grandees of of the Empire.47 Therefore, his favour could be helpful in attaining more power and glory in the same way as the Sayyids' help had earlier had done in case of Churaman II. Fourth, the intricacies of the contemporary political situation, perhaps, also tended him to the same direction.
Isolation was inexpedient and risky in the politics of his day. None, much less astute and ambitious Badan Singh, could afford to stand in proud isolation and yet have pretensions for increasing one's power. Een the highest in the land, the court-nobles, the Marathas,the Rajputs etc. sought allies. Finally, Badan Singh knew that until recently the Amber house had been the relentless foe of the neighbouring Jats. As such what he had obtained through its favour could well be endangered by its frown. Here was then another consideration emphasizing the need for retaining the goodwill of his benefactor.
On his part, Jai Singh had his own reasons to be amiable and helpful to Badan Singh.The sentiments of gratitude moved Jai Singh as well. If he had helped Badan Singh in assuming the leadership, the latter had saved his (the Raja's) very life from the devouring jaws of death, at Thun. Moreover, the Raja could count on the Jat help in need if he remained frendly to them. Further, with his own protege being at the helm of the Jat affairs, Jai Singh's cherished designs of personal hegemony over Agra looked to be at least indirectly fulfilled. Side byside, the Raja felt that his patronizing the Jat chief would "shed reflected lustre" on his person.48
Thus, convinced of the usefulness of Badan Singh as also of his ever remaining grateful to him49, Jai Singh generally extended him his favours. During his governorship of Agra; [[Badan Singh and Suraj Mal became "plerupotentiaries" with liberty to do what they wished. The Raja's deputy, (Kirat Singh of Diggi) in fact openly sided with them. Jai Singh connived at the Jats' encroachment upon the imperial territories and turned a deaf ear to the complaints thereon.50 He also procured for the Jat chief the rahdari of the roads between Faridabad, Agra and Jaipur.51 On the
47. Sarkar, Fall, I, 242.
48. Sarkar, Fall, II, 428.
49. Memoires des Jats, 19-20.
50. Memoires des Jats, 19-20; TAH. 23a; Sujan, 36.
51. TAH., 23a; Memoires des Jats, 19; Sujan 10, 40 (by implication).
[p.103]: occasion of the Ashwamedh Yagya,Jai Singh betook and blessed Suraj Mal as his son.52
On his part, Badan Singh reciprocated the kind gestures of the Jaipur chief by his humility an submissiveness. Whereas not even once did he appear in the Mughal court,he never missed, so long as his age permitted, going every year to Jaipur to pay his homage to Jai Singh.53 If Iqbalnama is to be believed he hardly took any step without consulting the Rajput Raja.54 The gallant Jat warriors matched the kindness of Jai Singh by shedding their blood at his and his successor's call. More than once did they rescue the Jaipur rulers from gloomy situations, fighting bravely in their vanguard. Sudan hardly exaggerates when, keeping in mind the heroic performance of Suraj Mal in the battle Of Gangwana, he says that the Jat "defended Kuram (Jai Singh) by wielding sword in his hand.55 Apart from this battle, the Jats fought on the side of the Jaipur Rajas in 1740 against Jodhpur; in 1744 against Kota, in 1748 against Madho Singh.56 .
Yet, the amity between the two need not be over-emphasized. Under it lay a dormant feeling of mutual suspicion and jealousy. Two immediate neighbours, having an age old record of socio-political feud57, could not have turned forthwith really sincere to their professions of friendship. More so, when their respective ambitions overlapped with regard to the occupation of the Agra province. There is ground to share the then prevailing suspicion that even if Jai Singh did not openly lend his troops to Badan Singh, he did secrettly "employ" him to weaken the Mughal authority in the province so that his own dominance might be established there.58 By implication it meant that he could be the last man to acquiesce in the emergence of an inadpendent and strong Jat State. It is noteworthy here that Jai Singh forbade Badan Singh to construct the scheduled fort on a hill at Paharatal or Bayana lest its strategic site should induce the owner to become independent of Amber.59 Jai Singh also used his influence to
52. Qanungo, Jats, 63, Pande, Bharatpur, 34; U.N. Sharma, Itihas, 326; J.S. Gahlot, Rajputane Ka Itihas (Jodhpur 1966) 103; Dikshit, Brijendra Vansh Bhaskar, 40-41.
53. For this purpose he built a mansion, garden and other houses in the outskirts of Jaipur. The locality was named "Badanpura" after him. Memoires des Jats, 27; . For a discordant note see Pande, Bharatpur, 33.
54. Iqbal, 157.
56. These wards formed the part of the internal affairs of Jaipur and did not directly affect the fortunes of the Mughal Empire. We have left out their details as they do not relate to our subject. Details of these wars may be found in Dr. Ram Pande's Bharatpur.
57. Sarkar, Fall, II, 423; Also Qanungo, Jats, 62.
58. Memoires des Jats, 19.
59. Pande Bharatpur, 34-35, U.N. Sharma, Itihas, 326 .
[p.104]: mould the Jat policy to suit his designs, often detrimenta1 to the Jat interests. His attitude during Baji Rao's march through the Jat area (1736) is a case in point.60
In ultimate analysis, then, Jai Singh was trying to fulfill his ulterior designs rather than help the Jats. And all along he was expecting [[Badan Singh]] to show him servile devotion.61 This was in an age marked by surging ambitions, his shedding the temptation of personal sway at least over his homeland would have been a miracle indeed. As it was, Badan Singh aspired for an independent principality of his own and as such Jai Singh's ulterior motives-insofar as they pertained to his neighbouring areas - were bound to discomfit him. This coupled with his own expansionist goal possibly lay at the root of his understanding with the Meo rebels, carrying raids to the Jaipur territories. Jai Singh was then compelled to placate the Jat chief by granting him the lands of Sinsini, Thun and Nagar, which yielded rupees 18 lakhs per annum.62
Viewed in this light, the gestures of Jai Singh and Badan Singh, like the former blessing Suraj Mal and Badan attending the Japur darbars and so on appear to have been the part of a clever game calculated to conceal their inner designs. With both nursing conflicting ambitions, and yet keeping a show of cordiality, one wonders if they were not attempting to outwit each other. Amidst the circumstances, it was obviously the outweighing considerations of mutual utility, as also gratitude, that kept them together.
However, the factor which helped Badan Singh most in expansion was the invaluable assistance of his eldest (living) son and the destined successor, Suraj Mal. Born about the beginning of the year 1707,63 of his Jat wife Rani Deoki of Kama,64 Suraj Mal showed "signs of boldness With a bit Of manner and behavior" quite early in his youth.65 Amiable, sot and unostentatious in living, he wore rather a simple dress and spoke his mother-tongue, Braj. He was prudent, shrewd and brave.66 In an
60. Infra, Ch. VI, f.n. 27-29.
61. Memoires des Jats, 19-20.
62. Imad, 84; Tarikh-i-Khanzadas quoted by Pande, Bharatpur, 33; Tarikh-i-Bharatpur, 4b; Qanungo, Jats, 61; U.N. Sharma, Itihas, 323.
63. This can be inferred from Suraj Mal's own letter dated March 1757, to Ahmad Shah Abdali in which he wrote about his having "already crossed fifty of the stages (life)" by March 1757. See Infra, Xth chapter, f.n. 45.
65. Memoires des Jats, 28.
66. Imad, 84; See alos Tarikh-i-Bharatpur, 4b; Memoires des Jats, 63; Majma-ul-Akhbar in Elliot, VIII, 362.
[p.105]: apparent reference to the earlier part of his long career, Ghulam Ali Khan remarks, "in prudence and skill, and ability to manage the revenue and civil affairs, he had no equal among the grandees of Hindustan except Asaf Jah Bahadur (the first Nazam )"67 He was a good statesman too.68
Right from the early seventeen thirties, Suraj Mal helped his father, who seems to have been an loving person. Shortly after, his younger brother, Pratap Singh also became helper.69 As Badan Sing advanced in years and his sight deteriorated,70 Suraj Mal's participation in the state affairs increased. Gradually, there arrived a stage when the aging chief found it physically impossible to carry on. He, therefore, willingly entrusted the sole management of his principality to his loving and ablest son and the heir apparent (Suraj Mal) as regent71 (governor), while he himself chose to lead a quiet life, disturbed only in face of political exigencies requiring his attention as well.72 Suraj Mal became regent around 1750.73 More markedly than before, Badan Singh was now only to reign, while Suraj Mal became the de facto ruler.
67. Imad, 84.
68. Tarikh-i-Bharatpur, 4b
69. Memoires des Jats, 28 and also 27.
70. Ibid., 21; Majma-ul-Akhbar in Elliot VIII, 362; cf. Tarikh-i-Hunud, 20a.
71. Memoires des Jats, 27 and 29; Tarikh-i-Hunud.20a; Dirgh 4-6; Majma-ul-Akhbar in Elliot, VIII, 362. In absence of no support whatsoever, R. Pande's claim (Bharatpur, Introduction, iii) that Suraj Mal led a rival group against Badan Singh, looks to be the sheer figment of imagination. Much to the contrary, Sujan Charitra (5) expressly speaks of his affectionate devotion to his father. Even otherwise, the fact that later in spite of his being in a position, he refrained from supplanting his disabled father, itself reveals his filial love and devotion to his father. Also see Memoires des Jats, 63.
72. Badan Singh's anxious deliberations with the state councillors on the eve of the Maratha invasion in 1754, is a case in point.
73. None of our authorities clearly mention any exact date for it. Wendel and Fransoo, however, leave some clues about it. From Wendel's statement that Suraj Mal (who died in Dec. 1763), guided the destiny of his nation for "more than 20 years" (Memoires des Jats, 63), we make out that he would have liked to put the required date round about 1740. As for Fransoo (20a), he states that Badan Singh died in June 1756, after having lived "as a blind-man for 20 years". Thus, he points to 1736 as the commencing date of Suraj Mal's regency. Coming to the modern historians, R. Pande (Bharatpur, 39) is the only one among them, to have touched this point. He says that by 1734 ended the "reign" (c. rule) of Badan Singh. But once more he quotes no source nor does he acquaint us with his own reasons for that contention. But all the three views fall to the ground at the mere touch of a relevant reference in an exactly contemporary document. It shows (see infra, 111-112) Badan Singh personally leading his troops in 1739, in a mood of resistance. It clearly implies that at least till 1739, he possessed sufficient vigour to withstand a fight. As such, the period of decline in his health leading to his retirement must be sought well after 1739 and not before.
Incidentally, we learn from Tarikhi-i-Ahmad Shahi (43b) that [[Badan Singh]] was not personally present in the Court when in 1752, the Mughal Emperor conferred upon him the title of "Mahendra". This was too great an occasion for him to have ordinarily missed. Even the fear of treachery which had so long dissuaded him from going to the Court (see Memoires des Jats, 26; c. Sujan, 55) was now apparently meaningless in the days of the predominance of Suraj Mal's friend, Safdar Jang; the latter in fact was the man who had procured this favour for the Jat chief. And yet Badan Singh remained absent on this unique occasion. This fact assumes significance here.
A probable inference would be that old age as also dissipation (Memoires des Jats, 21) had by this time worn him out and this eventually forced him to stay back.
In the light of these facts, the year 1750 seems to be the nearest approximation of Badan Singh asking his son to look after the entire affairs of his state. cf Majma-ul-Akhbar, in Elliot, VIII, 362.
Main events of the subsequent Jat expansion
[p.106]: With a devoted son and a powerful Raja (Jai Singh) by his side, Badan Singh resumed expansion in right earnest. In the interest of clarity we may list here at one place the main events of the subsequent Jat expansion although they are interspersed with diplomatic history in the succeeding chapters also. Mewat with its local unrest and geographical proximity had attracted Badan Singh, as pointed before. Step by step he obtained footholds here to the anguish of the Jaipur chief in whose zamindari it lay. At last Muhammad Shah was obliged to form out the parganas of Khoh, Nagar and Kathumar (in Mewat) to the Jat chief for Rupees 2,40,000 per annum.74 Taking advantage of it, he further strengthened his position there.75 In 1738, Suraj Mal subjugated the lands of Farah, OL, Achhnera and their neighbourhood in the Mathura and Agra districts.76 Nadir's invasion of 1739, while it proved so destructive to the Mughal Empire, eventually led to a sudden and vast expansion of Badan Singh's dominions and fortunes. He acquired control of the neighbourhood of both Delhi and Agra. He made further additions to his dominions wherein he began building new forts.77
Once he gained an unassailable footing in the countryside of Agra and Mewat, his eastward expansion across the Yamuna appears natural. The mahals contiguous to his domains were inhabited predominantly by the Jats, who, ever since the days of Aurangzeb, had joined hands with their brethren of Agra and Mathura. The Jats of those areas were not slow in taking advantage of the prevailing situation. Thus, we learn
74. Sujan, 6, 40 (by implication); Ashub, II, 316 quoted by U.N. Sharma, Itihas, 323; Sarkar, Fall, II, 434.
76. Agra Gazetteer, 161; Muttra Gazeteer, 198-199; Also see author's article, Badan Singh Ke Kal Main Bharatpur Ka Pradeshik Vistar', Uplabdhi, 67.
77. Memoires des Jats, 27, 29; Also Shah, 2, Iqbal, 210.
[p.107]: that a local chief from Mahaban, assuming the name of Wantar Shah(?), raised a force of 5,000 horsemen and stated ravaging the lands. In the 22nd year of reign (l741-42) the said Jat and his men killed Hakim Kazim, the faujdar of Firozabad, plundering all his property.78 About this time Suraj Mal captured the fortress of Mendu. This gave him a suitable opening for expansion in the lower middle Doab. It can be reasonably inferred from Sujan Charitra that by Agahan, Samvat 1802 (28th October to 27th November, 1745) the Jats had penetrated into parts of modern Aligarh and Bulandshahar districts.79
Surajmal's patronage to Balram Jat
During the reign of Muhammad Shah, Suraj Mal extended his patronage to his near relation, Balram Jat of Tewatia gotra of Ballamgarh. We learn that his father Charandas (son of Chowdhary Gopal Singh) withheld revenue and defied the local Mughal officer, Murtaza Khan (at Faridabad). The latter imprisoned him. But Balram, playing a trick on the Khan, secured his father's release. Thereafter both of them made off to Suraj Mal, and gaining his, as well as the local support, killed that officer.80 Within a short time Chowdhary Balram carved out a taluka, where he built a mud fort, named Ballamgarh. Emboldened with his success and the powerful backing of Bharatpur, he seized Palwal and Faridabad (which were in the Jagir of the Nizam). With the passage of time he became prosperous and fairly strong and assuming the title of "Rai", he started ruling over the usurped lands.81
Thus, availing himself of the indolence and imbecility of Muhammad Shah, Badan Singh vastly increased his possessions and authority. By the end of his reign large parts of the suba of Agra and some parts of Delhi upto Faridabad, had passed in his or his tribesmen's control.82 He grew powerful enough "to be ranked among the best in Hindustan" and became convinced of his potentiality to resist an attack.83 In terms of riches that he had amassed he "vied with the biggest of the Rajas." 84 Thus, the long cherished dream of a Jat State had materialised all but in name.85
Notwithstanding, "the start of the fortune of the Jats" was only "half risen" so far. It was in the succeeding and more troubled reign of Ahmad Shah that it rose to the full.86 Early in his reign Balram Jat,
78. Rustam, 579.
79. Sujan, 60 and 91.
80. Delhi Gazeteer., 213; Also TAH., 23a; Chahar Gulzar Shujai in Elliot, VIII, 212.
81. TAH., 22b, 23a and 39a; Chahar Gulzar Shujai in Elliot, VIII, 212.
82. TAH., 22b, 23a and 90a; Memoires des Jats, 34.
83. Memoires des Jats, 33, 27 and 29.
84. TAH., 23a; Memoires des Jats, 33.
85. Hadiqat-ul-Aqalim by Qazi Murtaza Husain (Lith. Lucknow), 171.
86. Memoires des Jats, 31 and 33.
[p.108]: banking upon Suraj's support, renewed lawlessness and thought of occupying more villages around Faridabad. The new Wazir, Safdar, Jang, therefore, pledged himself to punish the insurgents.87 However, his punitive operations virtually ended in his assiduously wooing the friendship of his enemy, Suraj Mal. The latter's alliance with the imperial Wazir, besides heightening his image and status ensured the official recognition of Badan Singh as a Raja (October, 1752). It also expedited the issue of patents for the fiefs earlier ordered to be given to him.88
In 1752, Balram, ejecting the local faudar, Faqir Ali, eclipsed the imperial authority in Sikandarabad and Dankaur,89 In April 1753,his patron, Suraj Mal achieved a greater feat. Having expelled Bahadur Singh Bargujar from his faujdari at Aligarh, he wrested from his patrimony Ghasera and placed it under Amar Singh.90 Shortly after his eldest son, Jawahar Singh annexed some lands across the Yamuna in Doab.91
The Jat control over the newly acquired territories passed through vicissitudes in proportion to the fluctuations in the contemporary political situation. Though never eliminated, more than once it was eclipsed in the distant north and east due to the heavy military pressure both from within and without. But once it decreased, the Jat ruler re- established his authority over the affected areas. Thus, in 1753-1754, Imad-ul-Mulk and his Maratha allies superseded the Jat rule in the region stretching from Mathura to the environs of the Capital on one side and to Shikohabad on the other.92 But following their departure Suraj Mal recovered his outposts and also made new additions.93 On 27th Sept., 1754 (9th-Zil-Hijja) he despatched from Hodal a contingent under the sons (Kishan Singh and Bishan Singh)94 of the deceased Balram Jat to capture Palwal (which lay in Imad's jagir). The Jats occupied it in
88. TAH., 25b, 43b, 45a, 52a, 52b; Sujan, 54, 56-57, 60-62, 92, 98, 146, 147; S.P.D., II, 15 Also XXI 44, 50; Memoires des Jats, 33,34,38; Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 2Ib-22a; cf. TAL., 108.
89. TAH., 39a-40a; Also Shakir, 71.
90. Sujan, 97ff.; TAH., 47a, 52a, 52b, 106b. Also see author's article, 'Ghasera Ke Yudha Ka Aitihasik paryalochan'. Nagari Pracharini Patrika (Commemoration Volume, Samvat 2024), 504 ff.
91. Sujan, 193.
92. TAH., 89-92b, 94a, 94b, 104b-106a, 107a, 109b, I I la; Sujan, 203 ff.
93. TAH., 9; S.PD, XXVII., 90, Shah, 2.
94. The Court history does not here (TAL., 39) mention the names of Balram's sons. But from the fact that Kishan Singh and Bishan Singh were appointed fort commandant and Nazim of Ballamgarh by Suraj Mal (Delhi Gazetteer, 213), it may be concluded that it were probably those who led the said force.
[p.109]: a surprise attack, killing the local qanungo, Santosh Rai, in retaliation for his earlier instigating Aqibat Mahmud Khan to kill Balram. They also seized the local Qazi. Imad tried in vain to get his mahals vacated with the help of Raghunath Rao, then in Delhi. The Jats also recovered Ballamgarh and their mahals in Mewat.95 In the second week of November, 1755, Jawahar Singh attacked Fateh Singh (son of the deceased Bahadur Singh Bargujar) who had earlier regained Ghasira from the Jats with the help of Imad. Giving out that he was going to meet Madho Singh of Jaipur, he issued from his taluka (stretching up to Mewat) and took Fateh Singh by surprise. The latter despairing of his life fled and sought refuge with Kamghar Khan Billoch, the chief of Farrukhnagar and Jawahar re-annexed the areas of Ghasera and Garhi Harsaru. Emboldened with their successes, the Jats organised raids upto Sarai Ali Wardi Khan (24 miles from Delhi). The Wazir (Imad) and Prince Ali Gauhar at that time were encamping at Palam. Despite a rumour of their impending attack, they did nothing to expel the usurpers from that region.96 It is noteworthy that for another eight years Jawahar Singh remained busy subjugating Mewat, which Suraj Mal planned to develop as a separate state to be assigned to his restless and over-ambitious son.97
Surajmal's actions on the other side of Yamuna
Meanwhile, Suraj Mal had been active on the other side of the Yamuna. It appears that he deputed his men to different quarters of the middle Doab. Thus, a Marathi newsletter refers that Ghasi Ram Rajput encroached upon (c. 1754-55) the Faizpur taluka (in Meerut) of the Rohillas. He occupied and fortified some twenty villages. For want of requisite amunition Antaji Mankeshwar found himself helpless in getting these vacated.98 On the other side, Suraj Mal captured the country of Kol (Aligarh), Dankaur, Khurja etc. and later sent contingent to reduce Sikandarabad, then under the occupation of the Marathas. The latter evacuated both the fort and the town merely at the bidding of the Jats, who occupied them. They followed up this easy success with overrunning the environs including the pargana of Tal Begampur,99
A close perusal of the following treaty of Dasna would suggest that most of the above lands possibly formed parts of the jagirs formerly (in the reign of Ahmad Shah) assigned though not actually transferred to
95. TAL., 39-40, 47.
96. Ibid, 114.
97. Life of Najib-u-Daulah (by Sayyid Nur-ud-Din Hasan translated in English by Sarkar in Indian Historical Quarterly, 1933 and Islamic Culture, 1933, 60b; Also Memoires des Jats, 60, 46.
99. TAL., 106.
[p.110]: Suraj Mal and his men. He now pressed his claims by force of arms. However, his recent movements annoyed the Court especially the Wazir and consultations between the latter, the Emperor, Raja Nagar Mal (the Diwan of the khalisa) Najib and Damodar Pandit were held daily as to the recovery of the above lands. The Wazir opted for war and ordered Najib to proceed against Suraj Mal. But Nagar Mal pleaded for a negotiated settlement instead. As such, Sujan Singh (his agent) and Meghraj (the Vakil of Najib) entered into negotiations with the Jat Vakil.
But Suraj Mal, "proud of his superior prowess" was not in a mood to resign his advantages and showed intransigence. He merely offered to pay Rupees 5 lakhs but out-rightly refused to make over his recent acquisitions. This angered the Wazir and he planned a grand punitive expedition. Though it was not undertaken, Najib received fresh orders and on 17th June, 1755, he along with Jeta Gujar and his home auxiliaries moved on to Ghazi-ud-Din Nagar.
On the other side, Suraj Mal, who had been busy subduing the countryside moved forward in a fighting mood upto six to eight miles from Najib's camp. Nagar Mal was, however, all along opposed to war and so persuaded the Wazir to make terms with Suraj Mal. With Ibadullah and Muhammad Ashiq (the confidants of the Wazir) he went to Najib, mediated between him and the Jat prince and thus followed the treaty of Dasna (c. 10th July, 1955). According to it, Suraj Mal was to retain all his mahals including that of Kol in the Doab that he had held before the capture of Sikandarabad. The last place was to be vacated. Rupees 26 lakhs was fixed as the perpetual quit rent of all these territories, out of which Rupees 18 lakhs was deducted as cash compensation for the Jagirs of that Javed Khan and Safdar Jang had previously allotted to him but which had not been actually put in his charge. Out of the balance of Rupees 8 lakhs, the Jat Prince paid 2lakhs and agreed to clear the balance in a year in monthly installments of Rupees 50 thousand. Following this agreement Suraj Mal pulled back his forces by four to six miles.100
Suraj Mal responds to Bhim Singh Jat of Gohad
100. TAL., 105-109; Also Sarkar, Fall II, 438-439; Nur. 32b.
101. Murtaza Husain relates that one of the ancestors of Bhim Singh was a brave but one eyed man. He, therefore, went by the nickname of "Kana". He marched under Birbal to Kabul, where he was killed in fighting. In reward for his services, Akbar granted to the Kana's descendants the zamindari of Gohad. Murtaza Husain records two current version explaining how the word "Rana" came to be associated with names of the Gohad chiefs. According to the one, file above Kana, while accompanying a royal hunting party, bravely killed a lion. Seeing it the Emperor exclaiming "he is Rana not Kana". Thence for- ward he and his successors began calling themselves Rana. The other version goes that the Jat chiefs of Gohad hailed from the family of Nusherwan. As such in order to emphasize their high lineage, they used the word 'Rana' before their names. See Hadiqat. 164.
[p.111]: Gwalior). Having built a fort at that place, this Rana enlarged his possessions102 and in the process occupied the imperial fort of Gwalior when its Commandant preferring him to the waiting Marathas capitulated that fort. This ran contrary to the Maratha ambitions and they besieged Gohad103 (bout June, 1755). Now the local Jats knocked at the doors of their big brethren, the Jats of Bharatpur, for help and Bhim Singh sent his emissary Fateh Singh to Suraj Mal. The latter thus obliged and despatched with Fateh Singh a force of 500 horse and 2,000 foot to Gohad. Encouraged by this support, the Jats initially worsted force of 15,000 Marathas. But with the arrival of reinforcements, the Marathas ultimately overpowered the Jats. Those perished in the fighting included 125 Jat horsemen.104 It is relevant here to take note of an important reference in a Marathi despatch. Speaking about the Gohad Jats, it, at one place, refers to that they lay "banking upon (the support of) Suraj Mal". This may be taken as a prima facie evidence to prove that as in case of the Jat Rai of Ballamgarh, Suraj Mal all along displayed a patronizing attitude towards the Jat_Rana of Gohad as well.105 This may account for the grateful Rana106 as also the Rai often marching in person under the Bharatpur banners.
102. As a result of the effort of Bhim Singh and his successors, Gohad grew into one of the three most powerful centres of the Jat rule (the other two being Bharatpur and Patiala) by the time Wendel penned down his account. See Memoires des Jats, 4, footnote.
103. Hadiqat, 164-165.
104. SPD. II, 45, XXIX, 60 XXVII, 118, also 113; Hadiqat, 165; Also see SPD., I, New series, ed. P.M. Joshi (Bombay: 1957), P. 175. Murtaza Husain Bilgrami reproduces a fanciful story that, during the siege of Gohad, Suraj Mal seized and later married a beautiful female relation of Rana Bhim Singh and that he (Suraj Mal) was then killed by Chitra Singh (a future ruler of Gohad, styled Rana Chitra Singh Lokendra Bahadur). On verification, however, he found the whole thing false Hadiqat, 164-165.
105.SPD., II 45.
106. S.P.D., XXI. 26; William Irvine's article, 'The Bangash Nawab of Farrukhabad' (in J.A.S.B., 1879),97.
Coming to the middle Doab and Mewat, unfortunately, full chronological details of Suraj Mal's movements in these regions have not come down to us. Yet, it can be inferred from the scanty and casual references that besides recovering the tracts of Jalesar and Shikohabad, he pushed himself further towards Delhi 109 and improved upon his former position elsewhere too.110
Capture of Alwar fort from Rajputs
The most valuable acquisition that he made during these days was the imperial fort of Alwar in Mewat. Paying Rupees 50 thousand as bribe to its custodian and sending 500 men, Madho Singh of Jaipur had occupied Alwar. When Suraj Mal heard of it, he despatched a trong force of 5,000 under Rup Ram Katari and the siege of the fort was taken up. Soon after Jawahar Singh also joined him. In the ensuing fight there, the Jats easily gained the day and thus wrested the fort from the Rajputs (c. 23rd March, 1756). The Jaipur ruler, though visibly mortified by the reverse, held back as he felt himself powerless in ejecting the Jats.111 This shows that Suraj Mal annexed Alwar by humbling Rajput occupiers, and not "by composition with its custodian"112
107. Bajhor and Kajaraura were the Jat baronies. Hindupat Jat and Bharat Singh Jat respectively were their chiefs when Murtaza Husain visited these places. As for Karauli, some parts of this old Rajput State lay under the Jat while some others under the Maratha control at the time of Bilagrami's visit. Hadiqat, 165 and 169.
108. Sujan (213-214) seems to convey that on the eve of the Maratha invasion (in 1753-54) Badan Singh's territories stretched from Ramgarh (Aligarh) in the North to Kalyanpuri (old name of Karuali) in the south, from Haryana in the west to Etawah (It may be a mistake in in that region bearing the same name) and from Nimran (33 miles South-west of Pataudi) in the south-west to beyond Shah-pau (31 miles east of Mathura) in the north-east and Garhmukteshwarin the north-west. As is to be noted the display of rhetoric herein has marred the clarity of this reference. Besides, the geographical locations are also not quite correct. They, in fact, indicate a rightward swing from their actual direction. Likewise, it is difficult to believe that far flung regions like Gwalior and Karauli actually fo1med the part of the Jat state. Notwithstanding, coming as it does from the pen of the one whose knowledge of the Jats was incomparably fuller and deeper, all that Sudan says cannot be lightly brushed either. It seems reasonable to conclude that as a result of his patronizing attitude Badan Singh exercised appreciable influence over the Jats of those areas, which Sudan, out of enthusiasm, includes within the limits of Bharatpur. It should not be surprising if in those tumultuous days the Jats in general preferably looked for protection and help towards the Raja of Bharatpur, their most powerful and distinguished tribesman.
109. Shah, 2; S.P.D., XXVII, 206 and 172.
110. Memoires des Jats, 43; Also Tarikh-i-Bharatpur, 4b.
111. S.P.D., I, New series, p. 189; Also see S.P.D., XXVII, 128. The Jat capture of Alwar had Shah Waliullah (Shah, 2) lamenting that none of the Mughal grandees could muster up courage to prevent Suraj Mal's men from seizing Alwar.
112. Sarkar, Fall, II, 438.
[p.113]: Three broad phenomena come to the forefront if we minutely pursue the course of the Jat expansion.
First, Badan Singh and Suraj Mal mostly kept their eyes on ethnologically Jat areas. This impression we gather from the fact that once they subjugated the districts and the environs of Aligarh and Bulandshahar, they, instead of moving further to the east, turned to the north along the left of the Yamuna in the direction of Meerut.
Second, although they tried to bring maximum lands under their own domination, they were not averse to supporting the submissive Jat chieftains like those of Ballamgarh and Gohad. If this revealed their sturdy commonsense in war and politics-for even if desired, a sudden annexation of all the Jat regions was impossible- this also symbolized their efforts towards establishing a Jat confederacy113 under their over-lordship.
Finally, with all their deference to the individualistic temperament of their tribesmen, they were not normally prepared to brook defiance to their authority. The suppression of Muhkam Singh's henchmen before, and the intractable chief of Mursan114 Bhure Singh later,XVIIbears it out.
Jat Kingdom At The End Of Badan Singh's Reign
Corning to the Jat possessions, a little over two months had elapsed since the prized capture of Alwar, when the reign of Badan Singh came to an end. At the time his dominions roughly extended in length from the neighbourhood of Delhi to beyond Agra and in breadth from Mewat and hereditary Bharatpur territories to parts of Meerut, Etah (Jalesar) and Mainpuri (Shikohabad) districts. I is his state, besides being spacious, was financially well off and militarily very strong. It has been noted how, from the last two stand points, he had come to rival the biggest of the Rajas even before 1750. In the subsequent period also he kept up his preceding tempo. On his death the areas under his dominance were worth an annual revenue of Rupees one crore116 and there is little room for doubt that with a man of Suraj Mal's administrative ability and skill at the helm of affairs, he did realize almost the same amount if not more.117 The fact that time and again expectant multitudes flocked to the Jat state for asylum speaks of peace and security being ensured in
113. cf. Qanungo, Jats, 147.
114. S.P.D., XXI, 100, cf Sarkar, Fall, II,445.
XVII. In 1761-62, see Sarkar, Fall, II, (1991) p. 266 and f.n. XV of Ch. V-Editor.
115. Shah, 2; Khazan-i-Amirah (By Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Bilgrami, Litho edition), 99; Majm-ul-Akhbar in Elliot, VIII, 362.
116. Shah, 2; Sujan (207) refers to that Badan Singh possessed seven crores of cash in his treasury in 1753-54; Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 22a; for exaggerated account of the Jat riches see Dirgh, 6.
117. Majma-ul-Akhbar (in Elliot VIII, 362) is incorrect in stating that the areas under his control yielded "more than two crores".
[p.114]: the Jat State. Respite from the preceding administrative oppression ushered in better conditions of life for the local populace amidst the general chaos and commotion of the period. It paved the way for almost uninterrupted pursuit of agriculture, the mainstay of the hardy Jats, as also trade and commerce, as can be inferred from an eye-witness's account.118 It would appear that Suraj Mal's was one of the best governed principalities of the period.
As regards the armed strength, the Jat King possessed a regular well equipped and gallant army. It consisted of approximately 30,000 regulars, over and above the garrisons stationed in several forts.119 It could easily be ranked among the best in Hindustan. The subsequent c1iapters would show how, on several occasions, it won laurels fighting under one of the best generals of the period.
Besides the army, Suraj Mal also raised a network of fairly strong forts. The notable Jat forts built or repaired during his father's and his own period were those of Bharatpur (1743-1750), Deeg, Kumbher, Wair, Ramgarh (alias Aligarh), Ramghat(?), Khurja, Kishangarh, Nimran, Thun (built on another site), Sinsini, Sonkh, Sogar, Sahar, Kama, Noh etc.120 Besides emphasizing his splendour, these forts served to strengthen his defences. They were strongly fortified, profusely stored and well-garrisoned. Especially the first four were wonderful creations of the native genius. Their mud ramparts, coated with bricks and rocks were incredibly formidable in dimension, while the ditch around was very wide and dug so deep that water burst up. Yet another rampart, probably the city-wall, surrounded them at a distance of "two or three kos", followed by "merhalas" at a distance of one "kos". Apart from their strong garrisons, and big and
118. Sujan 212-213; Also see Dirgh, 1.
119. The lack of genuine evidence, hampers us in giving its exact numerical strength. Majma-ul-Akhbar (in Elliot VIII, 362) claims that about this time it stood at 1,00,000. Much to the contrary a Marathi letter (S.PD., XXI, 105) casually suggests the figure of 20,000. Both these are untenable. If the former is too inflated, the latter is too modest. It may be worthwhile to remember a relevant fact in this regard. We know that Suraj Mal took with himself as many as 15,000 troops, when he moved out to participate in the first Bangash and Civil Wars (Sujan, 64, 146). It stands to reason to believe that while doing so he must have left behind at least the same number of troops, if not more, to stand by for the defence of his realm in his absence. This would make a total of 30,000 Jat regulars, over and above those stationed permanently in the forts. This figure looks quite probable in the context of 1756, all the more if we keep in our mind that barely seven years later, it stood at 40,000 strong, apart from the fort garrisons. Vide Memoires des Jats, 67.
120. Sujan, 212-213; TAH., 109b; TAL., 220; Memoires des Jats, 19 and 51; Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20b, 22b; Ras Peeushnidhi in Somnath, 6-7; Nur, 32b, 60b; Imad 84; Siyar IV, 27-28; (8aldeo Singh, 30, 42 quoted by U.N. Sharma, Itihas, 327). The above list does not include those captured from others.
[p.115]: small cannons atop, these strongholds contained immense supplies of food, fodder and ammunitions, "ban", lead, and gunpowder, sufficient to last for years together, without requiring any external aid whatsoever. The walls especially of Kumbher and Deeg were literally lined up with cannons atop. All this had rendered these forts quite impregnable.121 The contemporary authorities have bestowed lavish praise on the marvelous strength of these Jat forts. To quote a few, a eye-witness says that no other places in India contained such enormous provisions as am the Jat forts. He adds that no power in Asia had the capability to capture by assault those impregnable forts. 122 Their builder, Suraj Mal emphasized the same thing by proudly likening them with "Alexander's rampart".123 In the eyes of Ghu1am Husain nothing short of a complete volume cou1d do justice to the descriptions of the Jat fortifications or the means of their defence.124
Character And Achievements Of Badan Singh
Braj Raj Badan Singh breathed his last on Wednesday, 9th June, 1756 (Jeth Sudi Ekadshi Samvat 1813).125 He must have been over 75 at the time of his death.126 Turning completely blind, he "abondoned the world" and spent his last days in "meditation on God". He kept the revenue of the village Kasawali (in pargana Deeg) in his own hands for giving "alms" to the poor and the destitutes.127 Worship apart, the pleasant memories of his great political achievement-foundation of the Jat State-perhaps, must have lessened the agony of his blindness.
Dignified and amiable in manners, Badan Singh was an astute and shrewd man knowing fully well how to avail himself of his opportunities. Eulogizing his bravery, Fransoo tells us that he was "unrivalled in the
121. TAL., 215; Memoires des Jats, 27, 39, 40 and 44; Siyar, IV, 27-28; Sujan, 222; TAH., 109b; Majma-ul-Akhbar in Elliot VIII, 361.
122. Memoirs des Jats, 40, footnote.
123. Vide his letter to the Abdali infra, ch. X, 166, f.n. 45, 166; Also Memoires des Jats, 40 footnote 44.
124. Siyar, IV, 28.
125. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20a; Following Delhi Chronicle K.R. Qanungo (Jats, 64) and other scholars mention 7th June. Though Fransoo is a later authority, in this case he is more dependable than the Delhi Chronicle for the simple reason that the date (9th June) given by him is based on the Persian records of the Munshis of the Jat Court.
126. Our sources (Sujan, 217 and Memoires des Jats, 21) do mention of his old age but do not record the actual age at the time of his death. They do not indicate the date of his birth either. The only clue in the matter is provided by the persistent tradition which tends to place his birth in early sixteen eighties (supra, p. 34f). It would show that Badan Singh must have crossed 75 before his death. His son Suraj Mal was about 50 at that time. This also lends weightage to the persistent tradition.
127. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 20a.
[p.116]: art of a soldier" and "possessed much proficiency in (the art of) spearmanship".128 However, this skill does not quite accord with his general indifference towards military life, as is obvious from his subsequent career as a ruler. Even state affairs were mostly managed by his son, Suraj Mal. Badan Singh's main interest centred round non- military pursuits, namely politics and diplomacy in which he showed himself quite adept.
As a figure in history, Badan Singh's importance rests on his efforts at building up a state out of casual collection of heterogeneous chiefdoms as well as on making his intensely democratic tribesmen conform to the institution of kingship. By the time of the commencement of his leadership, the Jats had no doubt clinched a position for themselves, but it was more shaky than stable. They had attained a reckonable power, but it lacked cohesion and proper direction. It was left to Badan Singh to rectify the prevailing abuses and to lead their people in the right direction. Expediency and his own sense of grandeur made Badan Singh set his heart upon the institution of kingship. Being a realist, however, he could foresee the likely hazards of precipitating the matter. He, therefore, proceeded with caution showing remarkable patience and sagacity. On the one hand he managed to disarm external opposition129 and on the other he endeavoured to augment his internal position, suppressing the pretentious while rewarding the faithful. Both ways he gained in stature till he touched the heights as no predecessor of his had ever done.
With kingly power he sought kingly splendour as well. Thus, in order to heighten his image he sought his descent from God Krishna.130 His court bards linked him on the mother's side with the Rajput dynasty of Karauli.131 Badan Singh held his Court at the Capital (Deeg) with requisite pomp and
128. Ibid., 14b; For hyperbolic description see Dirgh 3-4; Ras Peeushnidhi and Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 3-4, 318.
129. Memoires des Jats, 19,31.
130. Sujan 4-5, 211, Dirgh, 3; Ras Peeushnidhi and Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 3, 318; Tawarikh-i-Hunud, l3a.
131. Memoires des Jots, 28. Sudan (Sujan, 218) mentions about a certain "Bhupat Bhatwar" at the Court. This may refer to one of the Court eulogists, whom Wendel refers to here. Fransoo (Tawartkh-i-Hunud, 13a-14a). however, traces his pedigree from the Rajputs of Bayana. According to him the Jats of the Sinsinwara clan to which Badan Singh and the preceding chieftains belonged are the offsprings of the union of Sobhu Thankur and Devsani. He records that centuries ago Sobhu, for fear of Subuktgin (?) migrated from Bayana to Sinsini, then inhabited by kalals. Having established friendly relations, he invited all the male kalals to a drinking feast. When they got intoxicated with wine, the said Thakur treacherously put the whole lot to the sword, but married one of their ladies, Devsani, a worshipper of Shiv. The first born of this marriage was Raja Ram, and thus Sinsinwaras took to worshipping a god named Sinsinkumar, whose temple, an object of common veneration, was established in Sinsini, cf. the local tradition given by Pande, Bharatpur, 28.
[p.117]: show.132 He introduced royal etiquette with the help of Muslim officers employed for the specific purpose. He took a fancy for "Islamic culture and aristocratic training" as is evident among others from the living and education of Jawahar Singh, Pratap Singh and Bahadur Singh. 133 The big harem which he kept was again a princely paraphernalia. It consisted of a prodigious number of 150134 or according to one estimate about 400 inmates135 and compared favourably with any other in the country, as is upheld by a contemporary.136 If it pointed to his passion for women, it, in keeping with the standard of that age, also attested to his yearning for appearing great, glamourous and affluent.137 To avoid his sense of dignity being suffered he even took to the shedding of his daughters blood.138 Whether or not Badan Singh had any education we have no means to ascertain, he and his successor extended their patronage to men of letters and artistes. Sudan and Somnath were two such celebrities.
Keen interest in architecture: Unlike his predecessors, Badan Singh took a keen interest in architecture. Even if we exclude Suraj Mal's work in the field, we find his name being associated with several palaces, tanks, temples and gardens, over which he spent big sums. The fort of Deeg, including its beautiful water palaces and gardens was begun by him. At Kumbher he built many houses, a harem palaces and gardens, was begun by him. At Kumbher he built many houses, a harem palace and a fort.139 At Kama and Sahar also, he constructed palaces, now in ruins. At Wair, beside the fort he laid out a large garden with a beautiful mansion called "Safed Mahal' and reservoirs in the centre called "Phulbari'. He built a temple at Vrindaban, known as "Dhir Samir". 140 All this work, besides gratifying his aesthetic sense, undoubtedly served to emphaize his splendour as well.
Thus, both by his deeds and behaviour Badan Singh tried to emphasize the dignity of his stature. To secure the title of Raja was one of his longings.141 Though Ajit Singh and Abhai Singh of Jodhpur would
132. Sujan, 217ff.; Dirgh, 3 also 6; Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 318; Qanungo, Jats, 63.
133. Imad, 84; Ras Peeushnidhi and Mahdav Vindo in Sornnath, 4-5, 6-7, 318-320; Qanungo, Jats, 63.
134. Memoires des Jats, 20,33.
135. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 19a. Though Fransoo claims that all these 400 were "Ranis as his wives" this figure most likely included concubines as well. Vide Majma-ul-Akhbar in Elliot, VIII, 361-362 .
136. Memoires des Jats, 20.
137. Ibid. 20, 23.
138. Badan Singh put them to death lest the Mughal Emperors should demand them as they did in case or Rajput Princesses. See Tawartkh-i-Hunud, 19a; Memoires des Jats, 20.
139. Tawarikh-t-Hunud, 19a.
140. Growse, Mathura. 139: District Gazetter, Muura, 198; Qanungo, Jats, 64
141. Qanungo, Jats, 62.
[p.118]: in their letters address him as Raja, he yearned for a formal sanction of the regal title. He appeared to be crazy when in 1730, he urged through his officers (Khizrakhan and Nur Ali Khan) Sarbuland Khan (then at Agra) to address him as Raja instead of as Thakur.142 The Jealousy of Jai Singh and his own hesitation in attending the Mugha1 Court due partly to his fear of treachery,143 and partly to his blindness, apparently delayed the realization of his cherished desire till 1752 when Safdar Jang induced the Emperor to make him a Raja with the title of "Mahendra".144 As a cumulative result of these developments Badan Singh came to command adequate respect of and authority over his tribesmen. Yet to suppose that they completely or forthwith approved of the institution of kingship would be to ignore the fundamentals of the Jat character. Badan Singh himself had no illusion about it. This may account for the discernible fact that with all he or his son aspired for, they did not cherish the vision of an absolute monarchy of the Mugha1 type. Instead they discreetly kept themself content with the one of the Afghan type, which suited the character and sentiments of their people better.
To conclude, even though Suraj Mal's contribution is associated with the major portion of Badan Singh's work, the credit of giving a shape to the Jat kingdom should be accorded to Badan Singh. This was his great achievement.145 Badan Singh outlined the Jat kingdom and Suraj Mal was its first real King.
142. Sarbuland Khan was very hard pressed for money following his fight with Abhai Singh. Badan Singh offered to pay him Rupees one lakh but the Khan politely refused the offer and sent a horse and a jewelled sword as a present to Badan Singh with a letter addressing him as Thakur. The Jat chief returned the letter with Rupees, 5,000, requesting the Khan to address him as Raja, a title promised first to Churaman by Husain Ali and then to himself by Jai Singh in 1722, but not fulfilled in either case. Sarbuland Khan pointed out his own limitations in the matter but assured him to plead his case if he (the Khan) regained the Emperor's favour. Thus he sent the letter and money back to Badan Singh. M.U., III, 801, Khizra, 122; Hadiqat, 381; quoted by Irvine Later Mughals, II, 213-214.
143. Memoires des Jats, 26-27; Qanungo, Jats, 62
144. TAH., 43b.
145. Author's articles. 'Badan Singh Ke Kal Main Bharatpur Ka Pradeshik, Vistar' Uplabdhi, 70