The History of Rajputana

(by Brig. A. Mason, M.C., R.E.)

[July 29th 2007]

Tod says that Jaipur owes everything to Jey Singh, who was distinguished from others of the same name by being called 'Sowne', and who reigned at Amber for 44 years. He founded Jaipur or Jeypur, the new capital, which was scientifically planned by a Bengali Jain, who helped him in the study of history and astronomy, for which he also had help sent to him from Portugal. When Dr. Hunter worked out the latitude of Ujjain, the sacred city about 250 miles south of Jaipur, in 1793, Jey Singh made his own observations and the calculation agreed to the nearest minute. This city is considered the prime meridian of India. He had observatories built at four other places besides Jaipur, Ujjain being one of them, and the others Mathura, Benares, and Delhi; there were other instruments at Kotah and Bundi.

He had a twin brother, Bhim Singh, who declined to compete for the throne of Udaipur, which he inherited in 1681. After the death of Aurungzeb in 1707, it was expected that there would be fighting, since he had made himself so hated. His eldest son, Muazjam, was liked by the Rajputs and might have had a peaceful accession; but he was in Kabul. He and Azam raced for Agra and the treasure, but the latter was defeated at Jajan, 18 miles to the south-south-west, and the elder distributed the money and took the name of Bahadur Shah. The third son, Kambaksh, was not able to leave the Deccan, where he stood astride of Hyderabad, where he was defeated and killed by his brother in 1708. To keep the Marathas quiet, he released Siraji's grandson and so involved them in civil war. The Sikhs of Lahore then rose and when he told the Rajas of Amber and Jodhpur to come to his court, they came with their men and left again without permission and went on to Udaipur and formed a triple alliance which was clinched by marriages.

The sixth guru or Sikh leader had in the 17th century announced the conversion of the sect into a military organisation and the 9th was executed by Aurungzeb in 1675; the 10th, Gorind Singh, thereupon put the conversion into force and issued the rules for the Khalsa which are still in force. He decided to support the Emperor, but his orders for the sacking of Sirhind brought the Emperor northwards and the Sikhs were driven into the hills. Bahadur Shah then died by poison (?) in 1712. The guru also died—in 1708. A war of succession followed and an interregnum ended by the. twenty-nine-year reign of Muhammed Shah. Oudh and Bengal became independent and the Rohillas seized Rohilkand: the Emperor was finished.

The Rajputs were now taking their revenge. Moslem priests and judges were insulted, mosques overthrown and their forces concentrated at Sambar, Jodhpur was opposing Udaipur, and the aim of Rajput independence required opposition to the Jats of Bharatpur, who were invading Rajputana. This gave the Marathas time for reorganisation. Siraji's system came to an end with his death in 1680. Balaji Kisranath became Peshwa, or second minister, in 1714, and was made Prime Minister in 1716. He was followed by Baji Reo in 1720, even more able, and the appointment became hereditary.

In Rajputana, Amber absorbed Shekharath, but they were faced on the east by the Jats; Jodhpur spread into Gujurat. Jey Singh realised that the Moghal empire was falling and determined that Amber should benefit. After three years of quiet, he was appointed 'Subadar' or Governor of Agra and Malwa while Muhammed Shah was at Delhi. In 1732 in view of the increasing threat from the Marathas, he made an agreement with Baji Reo. In 1739 the invasion of Nadur Shah took p/ace, and the Rajputs stayed neutral. But his brother Beajj Singh was plotting to -supplant him and put the proposal to the Emperor. Jey Singh was succeeded not by his eldest son, who was not quick enough, but by Madhu Singh, a younger- son who at once faced the Maratha problem, but was distracted by the Jats, also Scythians, who are said to have fought Cyrus in Soqdiana. The Syed Sultans of Delhi were ordered by Singh to make them stop their raids in the early 18th century, but lie failed after twelve months and installed a Jat, Buddur Singh, as Raja of Dig.

In 1820 he took Bharatpur and attempted to take Delhi, but the leader was cut down by horsemen. The Jats felt that Amber was frustrating them and marched through without notice. As they repeated this, there was ground for a quarrel, in which, the Jats were defeated, but Amber lost most of its chiefs, Pertap Singh, a Nanook who was banished by Madhu Singh, fled to the Jats for sanctuary and land. Madhu Singh was killed in the next battle, but Mocherry returned to his Amber allegiance.

In 1791, Hoikar invaded Jaipur, which had to pay tribute until 1803; there were continual raids under de Boigne, a Swiss mercenary.

Sangram Singh is another famous Rajput name. He came to the throne of Mewar in 1716 on the death of Umra and at the time of the re-establishment of Hyderabad by Nizam-ul-Mulk. By his death in 1734, the Moghul Empire was purely nominal. This was the time of the Great Anarchy (this is Macaulay's term). Nizam-ul-Mulk held Moradabad, 100 miles east of Delhi. Asafjah held post from 1722 to 1748. Sangram Singh ruled for eighteen years and Mewar regained all her territory. He was the model of all Rajput chiefs.


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