Ahmed Shah Abdali

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Author of this article is Dayanand Deswal दयानन्द देसवाल

Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 16 October 1772) (Pashto/Persian: احمد شاه دراني‎, Hindi: अहमदशाह दुर्रानी), also known as Ahmad Khān Abdālī (in Indian history, known by the name Ahmad Shah Abdali (अहमदशाह अब्दाली), was the founder of the Durrani Empire and is regarded as the founder of the modern Afghanistan. He began his career by enlisting as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose to become a commander of the Abdali Regiment, a cavalry of four thousand Abdali Pashtun soldiers.

After the death of Nadir Shah in 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani was chosen as King of Afghanistan. Rallying his Afghan tribes and allies, he pushed east towards the Mughal and the Maratha empires of India, west towards the disintegrating Afsharid Empire of Persia, and north toward the Khanate of Bukhara. Within a few years, he extended his control from Khorasan in the west to Kashmir and North India in the east, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.

Durrani's mausoleum is located at Kandahar, Afghanistan, adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in the center of the city. Afghans often refer to him as Ahmad Shāh Bābā ("Ahmad Shah the Father").

Ahmed Shah Abdali

Ram Sarup Joon[1] writes that ...After the death of Shah Alamgir II, there were two rival nobles at the Delhi court, Ghazi Uddin and Nazibudaulah. Some dissident courtiers invited Ahmed Shah Abdali from Kabul to counter Ghazi Uddin. With the help of these accomplices, Ahmed Shah Abdali succeeded in removing Ghazi Uddin from Wazarat, and obtained one crore of rupees as indemnity. On 29th June 1757 Ahmed Shah Abdali sat on throne of Delhi and issued coins in his name. Ghazi Uddin with his friends sought asylum at Bharatpur.

History of the Jats, End of Page-162

Ahmed Shah Abdali wrote to Raja Suraj Mal to pay a fire of Rs one crore or he ready for war. Raja Suraj Mal accepted the challenge. He sent his son Jawahar Singh on a flank to Balabgarh and himself attacked the forces of Abdali when they were yet busy in preparations for the action.

On 12 Feb 1757, Durrani's forces created havoc in Bharatpur and massacred, a large number of innocent people. Though the Jats had suffered heavy casualties, Durrani dared not proceed to attack Deeg and Bharatpur. Due to this heavy bloodshed Cholera broke out in Durrani's forces and they had to leave the Jat territory. Suraj Mal preferred to face all these troubles than to give up one who had sought his protection.

The Third Battle of Panipat 1761 AD

The Mughal power in northern India had been declining since the reign of Aurangzeb, who died in 1707. In 1751–52, the Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Marathas and Mughals, when Balaji Bajirao was the Peshwa. Through this treaty, the Marathas controlled virtually the whole of India from their capital at Pune and Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi (Mughals remained the nominal heads of Delhi). Marathas were now straining to expand their area of control towards the Northwest of India. Durrani sacked the Mughal capital and withdrew with the booty he coveted. To counter the Afghans, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao sent Raghunathrao. He succeeded in ousting Timur Shah and his court from India and brought Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and other subahs on the Indian side of Attock under Maratha rule. Thus, upon his return to Kandahar in 1757, amidst appeals from Muslim leaders like Shah Waliullah, Durrani chose to return to India and confront the Marathas.

In 1761 Shah Waliullah of Delhi wrote to Durrani asking him to help his brethren-in-faith against the Marathas, and warriors from various Afghan tribes joined him. The early skirmishes ended in victory for the Afghans against the Maratha garrisons in northwest India. By 1759, Durrani and his army had reached Lahore and were poised to confront the Marathas. By 1760, the Maratha groups had formed a big army under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau. Once again, Panipat was the scene of a battle for control of northern India. The Third battle of Panipat was fought between Durrani's Muslim forces and the Maratha Hindus in January 1761, and resulted in a decisive Durrani victory.

Maharaja Suraj Mal's letter to Ahmed Shah Durrani

On March 26, Abdali sent Qalandar Khan to Delhi to inform Alamgir II that he was calling off his campaign against Suraj Mal and returning to Delhi. Simultaneously, he sent two envoys with a threatening letter to warn Suraj Mal of the dire consequences that would follow if he continued to evade payment of tribute. Suraj Mal had ‘promised’ to pay five lakh rupees to Abdali and a gift of two lakhs to his Minister. A small price to pay, but the cholera epidemic made sure that even this money would never be paid. Abdali had rather rashly hinted in his letter that the forts of Bharatpur, Deeg and Kumher would be razed to the ground.

Suraj Mal’s reply is a splendid example of epistolary art. It combines subtlelty with firmness, teasing candour with undisputed courage, humility with pride and, in addition, it is a document of great serenity. This devastating letter must have made Abdali realize that Suraj Mal was no supine prince. Maharaja Suraj Mal wrote:

“I have no important position and power in the empire of Hindustan. I am one of the zamindars living in the desert, and on account of my worthlessness, not one of the emperors of the age thought it worthy of him to interfere with my affairs. Now that a powerful emperor like Your Majesty, determines on meeting and opposing me face to face in the field of battle, would draw his armies against this insignificant person, that action alone would be discreditable to the dignity and greatness of theShah and would help in the elevation of my position (in the public estimation) and would be a matter of pride for my humble self. The world would say that the Emperor of Iran and Turan had, out of extreme fear, marched his armies upon a penniless nomad. These words alone would be a matter of great shame for Your Majesty, the bestower of crowns. Moreover, the ultimate result is not altogether free from uncertainty. If, with all this power and equipage, you succeed in destroying a weakling like myself, what credit will there be gained? About me, they will only say – wjhat power and position had that poor man ? But if by divine decree, which is not known to anyone, the affair takes a different turn, what will it lead to? All this power and preponderance brought about by Your Majesty’s gallant soldiers during a period of eleven years will vanish in a moment.
“It is a surprise that your large-hearted Majesty has not given thought to this small point, and with all this congregation and huge multitude, has taken upon yourself the trouble of this simple and insignificant expedition. As to the threatening and violent order issued for the slaughter and devastation of myself and my country, warriors have no fear on that score. It is well known that no intelligent man has any faith in this transient life. As for myself, I have already crossed fifty of the stages of life and know nothing about the remaining. There shall be no greater blessing than that I should drink the draught of martyrdom, that has to be taken sooner or later in the arena of warriors and in the field of battle with valiant soldiers, and leave my name, and that of my ancestors, on the pages of the book of the age to be remembered that a powerless peasant breathed equality with such a great and powerful emperor as had reduced mighty kings to subjection, and that he fell fighting. And the same virtuous intention lies at the heart of any faithful followers and companions. Even if I wish to make up my mind to attend at the threshold of your angelic court, the honour of my friends does not permit me to do so. Under such circumstances, if Your Majesty, the fountain of justice, forgive me, who is weak as a straw and turn your attention to expeditions of greater importance, no harm shall come to your dignity or glory. The truth about the three forts (Bharatpur, Deeg and Kumher) belonging to me, the objects of your wrath, which have been regarded by Your Majesty’s Chiefs as weak as a spider’s web, shall be tested only after an actual contest. God willing, they shall be as invincible as Alexandar’s Rampart”.

Hindi translation of the above letter

जब अब्दाली मथुरा के उत्तर में लगभग 19 मील पर शेरगढ़ पहुंचा तो उसने सूरजमल से जो कुछ भी प्राप्त हो सके, लेने का अन्तिम प्रयास किया । उसने बंगाल के सेठ जुगलकिशोर और एक अफगान अधिकारी को एक धमकी भरे पत्र के साथ सूरजमल के पास भेजा कि अगर उसने नजराना पेश करने में निरन्तर टालमटोल की तो डीग, कुम्हेर और भरतपुर के उसके तीनों दुर्ग भूमिसात् करके धूल में मिला दिए जाएंगे और उसके प्रदेश की जो भी दुर्गति होगी, उसकी पूरी जिम्मेदारी उसी की होगी । किन्तु जाट राजा भयभीत नहीं हुआ । उसने कूटनीतिक शब्दों में उत्तर भेजकर अपने साहस और सूझबूझ का परिचय दिया । सूरजमल ने लिखा -

"हिन्दुस्तान के साम्राज्य में मेरी कोई महत्वपूर्ण स्थिति एवं शक्ति नहीं है । मैं रेगिस्तान में रहने वाले जमींदारों में से एक हूँ और मेरी इस महत्वहीनता की वजह से, इस युग के एक भी सम्राट ने मेरे मामलों में हस्तक्षेप करना उपयोगी नहीं समझा । अब आपके समान एक शक्तिशाली सम्राट ने मुझ से युद्ध के मैदान में आमने सामने मिलने एवं विरोध करने का निश्चय किया है । अपनी सेनाओं को एक मामूली व्यक्ति के विरुद्ध लाना, यह अकेला कार्य ही शाह की महानता एवं प्रतिष्ठा के लिए अपयशकारी होगा और (लोकानुमान में) मेरी प्रतिष्ठा को बढ़ाने में सहायक होगा तथा स्वयं मेरे लिए गर्व का विषय होगा । दुनियाँ यही कहेगी कि अत्यधिक भयग्रस्त होकर ईरान व तूरान के सम्राट ने एक अपने मामूली जमींदार के विरुद्ध अपनी सेनाओं का प्रयाण किया । अकेले ये शब्द ही ताज प्रदान करने वाले आप महामहिम के लिए लज्जा का विषय होंगे । इससे भी बढ़कर प्रश्न यह है कि अन्तिम परिणाम अनिश्चितता से पूर्णतया मुक्त नहीं होगा । अगर इस सारी शक्ति एवं सामग्री के साथ आप मुझ जैसे कमजोर व्यक्ति को नष्ट करने में सफल हो जाते हैं, तो आपको क्या यश प्राप्त होगा ? (मेरे बारे में) वे केवल यही कहेंगे कि उस दुर्बल व्यक्ति की क्या शक्ति और स्थिति थी" । किन्तु अगर दैवी निर्णय से, जो किसी को भी ज्ञात नहीं है, अगर घटनायें दूसरा मोड़ ले लेती हैं, तब क्या होगा ? आप महामहिम के बहादुर सैनिकों ने ग्यारह वर्षों के दौरान जो शक्ति और गुरुता हासिल की है, वह के क्षण में लुप्त हो जायेगी ।
"यह आश्चर्य का विषय है कि आप जैसे विशाल हृदय महामहिम ने इस छोटी सी संभावना पर विचार नहीं किया और इस सारी मण्डली तथा विशाल सेना के साथ आपने इस साधारण एवं महत्वहीन अभियान पर कष्ट उठाया । जहाँ तक कत्लेआम और मेरे तथा मेरे प्रदेश के विनाश के लिए जारी किए गए हिंसा एवं धमकी भरे आदेश का प्रश्न है, योद्धाओं को उस हिसाब पर कोई भय नहीं है । यह भलीभाँति ज्ञात है कि कोई भी बुद्धिमान व्यक्ति इस क्षणभंगुर जीवन में विश्वास नहीं रखता है । जहाँ तक मेरा सवाल है, मैं जीवन की पचास सीढ़ियाँ पार कर चुका हूँ और शेष के लिए कुछ भी नहीं जानता हूँ । इससे बड़ा कोई आशीर्वाद नहीं हो सकता कि मैं शहादत के घूंट का पान करूं, जो जल्दी या देर से बहादुर सैनिकों को योद्धाओं की कर्मभूमि में करना है, और यादगार के रूप में युग के इतिहास-पृष्ठों पर मेरा तथा मेरे पूर्वजों का नाम रह जायेगा कि एक साधारण किसान इतने बड़े शक्तिशाली सम्राट से, जिसने शक्तिशाली राजाओं को आधीन बनाया, बराबरी से लड़ा और लड़ते हुए मारा गया । और ऐसा ही दृढ़निश्चय मेरे विश्वसनीय साथियों और अनुयायियों के हृदय-पटल पर अंकित है । फिर भी अगर मैं आपके दैवी दरबार की दहलीज पर उपस्थित होने का निश्चय करूँ तो मेरे मित्रों का सम्मान मुझे ऐसा करने की अनुमति नहीं देता । इन परिस्थितियों में न्याय के स्रोत आप महामहिम अगर मुझे क्षमा कर दें, जो एक तृण के समान ही कमजोर है, और अपना ध्यान अधिक महत्व के अभियान की ओर परिवर्तित करें तो आपके गौरव एवं प्रतिष्ठा को कोई नुकसान नहीं होगा ।
"आपके क्रोध का कारण मेरे तीन किलों, जो आप महामना के सरदारों के द्वारा मकड़ी के जाले की भांति कमजोर माने गए हैं, के बारे में सच्चाई का पता तो वास्तविक संघर्ष के बाद ही चलेगा । ईश्वर कृपा से वे सिकन्दर के परकोटे की तरह अपराजित सिद्ध होंगे ।"

Ahmed Abdali did not respond to this letter and decided not to have a confrontation with Maharaja Suraj Mal.

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