An historical sketch of the native states of India/Gwalior
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By Col. G. B. Malleson, Publisher: Longmans, Green & Co. London (1875)
- 1 Gwalior, Or The Dominions of Sindhia.
- 2 Origin of the family
- 3 Ranoji
- 4 Madhaji
- 5 Madhaji Lost fortress of Gwalior
- 6 The treaty of Salbye
- 7 Madhaji's assumption of power at Delhi
- 8 Daolat Rao Sindhia
- 9 Differences of Baji Rao with Daolat Rao
- 10 Treaty of Surji Anjengaom
- 11 Jankoji Rao Sindhia
- 12 Jaiaji Rao Sindhia
- 13 Jaiaji Rao's loyalty to the British
Gwalior, Or The Dominions of Sindhia.
Area- 33,000 sq. miles. Population — 2,600,000. Revenue — 93,10,000 rupees.
Origin of the family
The founder of the family which now rules the state of which Gwaliar is the capital was Ranoji Sindhia. Of the origin of the family there are two accounts.
Account 1. Sir John Malcolm states that they were Sudras of the tribe of Kumbi, or cultivators, and he thus describes the rise of the man who first made it famous : — ‘Ranoji Sindhia,' he writes,1 the first who became eminent as a soldier, had succeeded to his hereditary office of Headman, or Patel, of Kumerkerrah, in the district of Wye, before he was taken into the service of the Peshwa Ballaji Bishwanath, after whose death he continued in that of his son Bajirao Bullal. The humble employment of Ranoji was to carry the Peshwa's slippers ; but being near the person of the chief minister of an empire in any capacity is deemed an honour in India. The frequent instances of rapid rise from the lowest to the highest rank led men of respectability to seek such stations ; and it is probable that ambition, not indigence, influenced the principal officer of a village to become, in the first instance, the menial servant of Ballaji Bishwanath. Ranoji's advancement, however,
- 1 Central India vol. i. p. 116.
is imputed to accident. It is stated that Bajirao, on coming out from a long audience with the Sahu Raja, found Ranoji asleep on his back, with the slippers of his master clasped with fixed hands to his breast. The extreme care of so trifling a charge struck Bajirao forcibly ; he expressed his satisfaction, and, actuated by motives common to men in the enjoyment of such power, he immediately appointed Ranoji to a station in the pagah or bodyguard.' 1
Account-2. This somewhat sensational story, though generally believed, has not been altogether unquestioned. A writer, who, though anonymous, had evidently access to the best sources of information, and whose work 2 was read over and emended prior to publication by such high authorities as Mountstuart Elphinstone and Grant Duff, ventures to doubt it. His account of the origin of the Sindhia family is as follows : —
‘The Sindhia family,' he writes, ' were Patois of Kumerkheir, near Satara, and, in the absence of other information, we may judge of their respectability from the circumstance of the Emperor Aurangzib selecting a lady from the family to give in marriage to the Raja Sahu, about 1706, before deputing him to claim his inheritance as sovereign of the Marhatas. The lady died in 1710, when residing at Delhi with Sahu's mother. It was said of Ranoji that in early life he was a domestic of very inferior degree in the service of the Peshwa, viz., the carrier of his slippers : a story repeated by almost all writers of his history. But as the family had always been Silladars (cavaliers) nothing can be more improbable than that any member of it should serve in a menial office, more especially at a period when the army afforded an ample field for the display of
- 1. Malcolm adds in a note : ' This anecdote receives confirmation from a letter of Captain Stewart, acting resident at Sindhia's Court, dated 3rd September, 1819. Ranoji (he observes) is stated, after he was promoted, to have carried with him, carefully packed in a box, a pair of the Peshwa's old slippers, which he never ceased to regard with almost religious veneration as the source of his rise.
- 2. An Historical Sketch of the Princes of India, Edinburgh, 1833.
courage, talent, and birth. Ranoji, moreover, must have been a near relation of one of the Raja Sahu's wives or princesses, and would, therefore, hardly be allowed to stand in the capacity of a domestic to the Peshwa, who was himself only the minister, or servant of Sahu.'
However this may be, it is certain that Ranoji was a man to make the most of his opportunities. He first attracted attention in 1725, when he was regarded as one of the most daring leaders of the Marhata host. In 1736, at Delhi, he contributed greatly to the defeat of a body of 8,000 Mahomedan horse, who had sallied out to attack the Marhdta army. Two years later, in the campaign against Nizam-Mulk, he was one of the three principal officers who led the Marhatas into action, and to whose efforts the successful result of the campaign,viz. the first foundation of the three states of Sindhia, Holkar, and Puar, was mainly due. In 1743, his character caused him to be selected as one of the securities for the observance of the treaty between the Peshwa and the Emperor Mahomed Shah. On this occasion he publicly declared that should the Peshwa not observe his contract he would quit his service.
Nearly half the conquests achieved by the Marhatas in Hindostan had been made over to Ranoji for the support of his troops. On his death, about 1750, he was in possession of half Malwa, and enjoyed a personal income of about sixty-five and a half lakhs of rupees.
Ranoji left three legitimate sons, Jyapa, Duttaji, and Juttabah. Of these the first was murdered at Nagpur, in 1759, by emissaries of the Raja of Jodhpur; Duttaji was killed in action on the plain of Rudber, near Delhi, and Juttabah died at Kamber, near Dig.
But he had besides two illegitimate sons, Tukaji and Madhaji. Of these Tukaji, 1 did not survive his father ; but Madhaji lived to establish one of the most powerful and lasting native monarchies of Hindostan. But Mad-
- 1. Grant Duff states be was slain at Panipat.
Madhaji did not immediately succeed to the chiefship of the clan. His nephew, Jankaji, who was the son of Jyapa, became after his father's death in 1759, its recognised representative. But at the fatal battle of Panipat, January 6, 1761, Jankaji was taken prisoner and put to death. From that terrible overthrow Madhaji escaped, though at the cost of a wound which rendered him lame for life. Arriving at Puna, alone and unattended, he at once made an application to the Peshwa to be recognised as the chief of his father's house, and the inheritor of his jaghir. After much opposition offered by the Peshwa's uncle, Ragonath Rao, the claims of Madhaji were admitted.
From this moment his rise was rapid though not easy. He had to meet and overcome all those obstacles, rather harassing than really formidable, which jealous mediocrity invariably seeks to cast in the way of a man whose ability and ambition are clearly recognised. But Madhaji was equal to every occasion. Appointed general of one of the divisions of the army sent by the Peshwa into Malwa in 1764, to recover the prestige lost, at Panipat, Madhaji took advantage of the many opportunities which presented themselves to establish himself firmly in the country north of the Narbada. He is described by Sir John Malcolm as being, a little subsequent to this period,
- ‘the nominal slave but rigid master of the unfortunate Shah Alum, Emperor of Delhi ; the pretended friend, but the designing rival of the house of Holkar, the professed inferior in all matters of form, but the real superior and oppressor of the Rajput princes of Central India ; and the proclaimed soldier, but the actual plunderer of the family of the Peshwa.’
In 1766 Madhaji returned to Puna. Here his nominal employment was that of commandant of the household troops of the Peshwa, but the real influence of his strong practical character was almost irresistible. He used it on this occasion to support the claims of Ahalya Bai, widow of the deceased representative of the house
of Holkar, to inherit the family possessions. When we come, in the history of that house, to notice the immense benefits conferred upon it by the administration of that illustrious lady, we shall perhaps be inclined to dissent somewhat from the opinion already quoted, that Madhaji was the designing ‘rival’ of the house of Holkar.
In 1769, Madhaji commanded one of the divisions of the army sent by the Peshwa under Visaji Krishna against Northern India. Of this expedition Madhaji was the soul. It was due to the plan of operations advised by him, that the Mogul Emperor, Shah Alum, was induced to throw himself into the arms of the Marhatas. It was under his escort that the emperor re-entered his capital in December 1771. That accomplished, the Marhatas conquered nearly the whole of Rohilkhand, and established in that part of India a footing so firm that it was never seriously contested till they were driven from it thirty years later by Lord Lake.
The death of the Peshwa Madho Rao in the following year, recalled Madhaji to Puna. The new Peshwa, Narain Rao, did not long enjoy his honours, and then the mantle fell on the restless Ragonath Rao, the enemy of Madhaji. This latter, however, seeing that Ragonath Rao had enough upon his hands to occupy all his thoughts, employed the following two years in consolidating his power. This accomplished, he in concert with Tukaji Holkar, suddenly declared against Ragonath, whose imprudence was already imperilling the Marhata empire.
In the contest which followed, Madhaji first came in contact with the English, who had espoused the cause of Ragonath Rao. His first operations were eminently successful. He compelled the troops, commanded by Colonel Cockburn, -with Mr. Carnac as his adlatus 1 to retreat with great loss, to destroy their heavy guns and
- 1 These officers and Colonel into the snare, were dismissed the Egerton, who had led the army service. — Grant Duff.
burn their stores, and finally, he forced upon them at Wargaum the most disgraceful treaty ever signed in India by a British commander.
The effect on Madhaji's career was marvelous. In no country is prestige more powerful than in India, and Wargaum had given Madhaji prestige. Thenceforth with the Marhatas, as with his own countrymen, his influence was unbounded.
Madhaji Lost fortress of Gwalior
The arrival of General Goddard somewhat changed the aspect of affairs. But even in his contest with this general, Madhaji proved his right to be considered a commander of no ordinary ability. More acute than all his countrymen, he had thus early discerned in the English the capital enemy with whom the Marhatds would have to contest the empire of India, and he was unwilling to embark in such a contest, until he should have united all the native powers against their common foe. He felt that the contest was, for him, premature. He therefore used all his efforts to negotiate a peace. But Goddard was as far-sighted as Madhaji. It was necessary, he felt, to disarm so powerful an enemy with as little delay as possible. With this view, he attempted, April 3, 1780, to surprise him at Barodah. But though actually taken by surprise, Madhaji drew off his forces with consummate skill and little loss.1 A second attempt, made on the 19th of the same month, was even less successful, Madhaji skilfully avoiding an action. By this line of conduct he effectually gained his end — the prolongation of hostilities until after the commencement of the rainy season. He lost, however, almost immediately afterwards, the fortress of Gwaliar, then reputed impregnable, but which succumbed to the skill and daring of Captain Popham in August of that year. Unable to pursue his operations against Sindhia in the interior, Goddard transferred his operations to the coast, and laid siege to Bassein. On December 10 he
- 1 These details have already appeared in a memoir on Madhaji Sindhia in Recreations of an Indian Official, p.373.
defeated the Marhata force sent to relieve it, and the place surrendered on the following day. Other operations, with varying fortunes, ensued, no great success, however, being obtained by the English, and their army on one occasion, April 23, 1781, suffering a decisive defeat. These operations gave Madhaji the opportunity he coveted, of planting his own power firmly in Central India. General Goddard at last perceived that, by confining his attack upon the Marhata possessions to those districts farthest from the possessions of Sindhia, he was in reality playing the game of that ruler, who, whilst he was the mainstay of the Marhata power in the field, cared nothing regarding the nation at whose expense his own possessions were extended. A resolution was accordingly arrived at to attack Sindhia in his own territory.
The attempt was first made by a British force under Lieutenant-Colonel Camac. The operations of Madhaji, on hearing of this movement, stamp him as a military genius of no common order. Learning that Colonel Camac's force was small, he resolved to overwhelm it before it could be reinforced. He hastened at once, with a large body of troops, in the direction of Sipri, but, too late to save that place, he came up with Camac at Seronj, and surrounded him. The English force was reduced to great straits by famine. Added to this a cannonade of seven days' duration made considerable havoc in its ranks. Feeling that a further continuance in his position would inevitably lead to his destruction, Camac resolved to retreat, having previously sent to the nearest division of British troops earnest requests for reinforcements. For seventeen days the retreat continued, our troops being followed up and harassed by Madhaji. But on the eighteenth day the Marhata chieftain, for the first time in his life, allowed himself to be completely outwitted. As the only means of escape, Colonel Camac, at the dead of night, on March 28, attempted to surprise his enemy. His movements were entirely successful. Madhaji was com-
pletely defeated, and forced to give up the pursuit. A few days later, Colonel Camac was joined by a force under Colonel Muir. Madhaji, however, with the energy and spirit of a true Marhata, soon recovered from his mishap ; and, by his superiority in cavalry, he speedily reduced the English force to a state of inactivity. A few months later, Madhaji, perceiving that he had everything to lose from a contest carried on within his own territory, concluded a treaty with Colonel Muir, by which he bound himself to neutrality, agreed to exercise his good offices to bring about a general peace, recovered all his territory except the fortress of Gwaliar, and obtained from the English a promise to recross the Jumna.
This treaty was concluded just at the right time for the interests of Madhaji. The Government of India was, for many reasons, anxious to conclude the war with the Marhata, to prevent it from attaining the proportions of a deadly struggle for existence. The defection of Madhaji from the confederacy was hailed, therefore, by them with the liveliest satisfaction, and prepared them to show towards that chieftain a consideration such as, under other circumstances, would undoubtedly have been denied him. Nothing could have more advanced the views of Madhaji at this conjuncture than his recognition by the English as an independent prince. Besides the great moral advantages flowing from that recognition, it would give him that of which he then stood greatly in need ; it would give him time : time to consolidate his conquests, to give them a compact form, to gain for himself an independent footing amongst the several rulers of Hindostan ; time, moreover, to watch the opportunity for recovering, free from any interruption on the part of the English, the stolen fortress of Gwaliar.
That fortress the English had made over, after its capture, to the Rana of Gohad, to be by him held solely on the condition of good behaviour. It required but a little arrangement on the part of Madhaji to bring about
the apparent infraction of a condition so easy to set aside.
The treaty of Salbye
But, before he attempted this, he had been a consenting party to the treaty of Salbye, between the Peshwa and the English, which restored peace to every part of India but the Carnatic. Mr. Hastings was urged to the conclusion of this treaty by the doubtful fortunes of the struggle between Haider Ali and the coast army, and by the fear lest a man so ambitious as Madhaji might influence the Marhata nation to cast in its lot with the great adventurer of Mysore. Nana Furnawis was anxious for peace, not less on account of the presence of English troops in the Mdrhata territories, than of jealousy of the increasing power of Madhaji; whilst Madhaji himself, after long hesitation, after coquetting with Haider Ali and even obtaining the sanction of the Nana to a plan for the invasion of Bengal, came to the conclusion, for reasons already stated, that peace with the English would, for the moment, best advance his interests.
The treaty of Salbye, whereby, in addition to the former territories secured by him, he obtained the cession of Bharoch, promised him after the capitulation of Wargaum, had scarcely been signed, when Madhaji had proof of the wisdom of the course he had followed. The signature took place on May 17, 1782 ; the treaty was ratified on June 6 following, and was exchanged with the Peshwa on February 24, 1783. In the interval between the first signature and the final exchange, events had occurred at Delhi which opened out to Madhaji Sindhia a prospect, the realisation of which had ever been one of his fondest hopes, and had, nearly twenty years earlier, led to the campaign which ended on the fatal field of Panipat.
Ever since the retreat of the Marhatas to their own country in 1773, the imperial government had been carried on under the auspices of Mirza Najaf Khan, the leader of the anti-Rohilla party in the state. His rule
had, on the whole, been vigorous and successful. He had made the voice of the descendant of Timour once more respected at home and abroad, and under his energetic sway the empire seemed likely to attain a position such as it had not occupied since the death of Aurangzib.
But on April 22, 1782, Najaf Khan died. His death was the signal for anarchy and intrigue, for divided factions and contending rivals. This was the opportunity for which Madhaji had been longing. It seemed to him that the occupation of imperial Delhi, with the connivance of the English, opened out to him better prospects than an alliance with Haider Ali for the destruction of that nation. And when, towards the close of 1782, he received from Warren Hastings an assurance that the English would not interfere with his plans on Delhi, he made up his mind, and at once put in action the means he had so plentifully at his command.
Whilst these intrigues were pending, he made himself, in the first instance, secure in his own acknowledged dominions. To protect them the more effectually, he contrived a quarrel with the Rana of Gohad, and forced him to surrender Gwalior, — the English, occupied, after the death of Haider, with his son Tippu, not caring to interfere. Everything having been placed upon a footing of order in his own territory, he caused himself, by means of his intrigues with one of the contending factions at Delhi, to be invited to that city in the name of the emperor. The timely assassination of one of the leaders of the contending factions made Madhaji arbiter of the situation. Meeting the imperial court near Agra, he accompanied it to Delhi, where, refusing for himself and for the Peshwa the office highest in name and in repute- that of Amir-ul-Amrah, or prime minister — he accepted for the Peshwa that of vicegerent of the empire, and for himself that of deputy to the Peshwa ; thus, at the same time, acknowledging his fealty to the chief of the Marhata, whilst retaining in his own hands alike the
power and the right to exercise it. From this period till the defeat of the armies of Daolat Rao Sindhia, by Lord Lake, in 1802, the imperial districts of Northern India were — some brief intervals alone excepted— administered and governed by the Marhatas, acting in the name of the imprisoned emperor.
Madhaji's assumption of power at Delhi
For the five years following Madhaji's assumption of power at Delhi, he was engaged in a continuous struggle to maintain it. It was scarcely to be supposed that the Mahomedan factions would acquiesce tamely in his elevation. The country, moreover, was exhausted, and the necessity for raising a certain amount from its inhabitants did not increase his popularity. The Rajputs, the Jats, the Sikhs, and some of his own followers, too, disputed his supremacy. Yet Madhaji was resolved not lightly to resign the imperial power. He enlisted two battalions of regular infantry under a foreign adventurer, named De Boigne, and as opportunity offered he largely increased this force and added greatly to its efficiency. He improved likewise the irregular troops, enlisting amongst them not only Rajputs, but Mahomedans, and organising them on the basis of a disciplined army. His own energy and force of character not only inspired his men, but supplied even the losses occasioned by the treachery and misconduct of some of his adherents. Thus, after the battle of Jaipur, lost by the desertion of his regular infantry, Madhaji delayed not a moment in securing his strong places ; then, effecting a junction with a considerable force of Jats, he sent a fresh army into the field under Rana Khan and De Boigne. Though this army was defeated near Agra on April 24, 1788, Sindhia so far rallied it as to meet the enemy, and completely beat them on June 18 following. The Moguls, under the ferocious Ghulam Kadir, committed after this event those terrible atrocities upon the unhappy descendant of Timour and his family, as well as upon the inhabitants of Delhi, which have made his name for ever infamous in history. His triumph was short-lived. On
October 11 Delhi was occupied by Rana Khan and De Boigne, and a few days later Madhajl himself seated the blinded Shah Alum on his recovered throne. His power and authority were subsequently confirmed and consolidated by a great victory obtained by his army on June 20, 1790, over Ismael Beg, the last remaining Mahomedan noble possessing sufficient power and influence to interfere with his ambitious views. A second victory over Ismael Beg's allies, the Rajputs, was gained on September 12 the following year ; and Madhaji, sensible of the expediency of conciliating rather than driving to extremity that war-like people, granted them peace on easy terms.
In the first war with Tippu, 1790-92, Madhaji took no part. He was strongly of opinion that complete vietory in such a contest would only be advantageous to the English, from whom a violent and persistent enemy would thus be removed, whilst the maintenance of "Tippu at Mysore was by no means inconsistent with Marhata interests. He condemned, therefore, strongly the conduct of Nana Furnawis, in aiding the British on such an occasion. He continued, then and subsequently, to consolidate his own authority in Hindostan, to meet the open efforts of Tukaji Holkar and the secret efforts of Nana Furnawis to overthrow him, and to prepare against any attack from the north-west, constantly threatened as it was by the grandson of the Abdalli. He found, however, in the course of time, that, having placed his dominions in Hindostan on a footing of tolerable security, the best, and indeed the only efficacious mode of thwarting his Marhata rivals was to proceed direct to Puna. Could he become the minister of the Peshwa, as well as the holder of the power of the Mogul, what a vista would open to him !
He would then wield a power such as neither Aurangzib nor Sivaji, with all their efforts, had ever attained. To unseat Nana Furnawis, always plotting against him, and to occupy his place, became then the fixed and settled purpose of his mind. For no lighter purpose would he have
left his territories in Hindostan and Central India, the seat of his real power. But the end he proposed to himself was so vast, so full of promise, so magnificent, that it seemed to him worth while to encounter even a dangerous risk. He set out for Puna, and marching slowly, ready at any moment to retrace his steps, he reached that city on June 11, 1793.
There was naturally an ostensible reason for his journey. He was to invest the Peshwa with the insignia of the office of vicegerent of the Mogul empire, conferred upon him by the emperor. This he did, despite the secret opposition of Nana Furnawis, with great pomp and ceremony. His secret object, however, was to gain the young Peshwa, Madhu Rao Narain. This too, despite of the opposition, open as well as secret, he would, had he lived, undoubtedly have accomplished. Everything seemed to favour his purpose. Whilst at Puna he received intelligence of the complete defeat of the fast adherent and supporter of Nana Furnawis, Tukaji Holkar — a defeat by which the army of that rival chieftain was almost entirely destroyed ; he learned, too, of the capture of Ismael Beg, his sole Mahomedan adversary. He found, in fact, that he wielded unchecked the whole power of Northern and Western, and a great part of Central Hindostan. The spirit of the young Peshwa, too, chafing under the austere guardianship of the Nana, inclined more and more every day to the genial warrior, who encouraged him in his aspirations after the sports of the field and the pleasures of the chase. But it was not to be. At the very threshold of his fortunes, when success seemed within his grasp, Madhaji was attacked by fever and died. His death took place on February 12, 1794, in the vicinity of Puna. He had no children, nor had he made any adoption. He had, however, expressed a wish that his grand-nephew Daolat Rao, grandson of his co-illegitimate brother, Tukaji, might succeed to his possessions ; and this wish, after
some opposition on the part of his widow, was carried into effect.
By the death of Madhaji Sindhia the Marhatas lost their ablest warrior and their most far-seeing statesman. In his life he had had two main objects: the one to found a kingdom, the other to prepare for the contest for empire with the English. In both, it may be said, he succeeded. The kingdom he founded still lives ; and if the army which he formed on the European model was annihilated eight years after his demise by Lake and Wellesley, it had in the interval felt the loss of his guiding hand, as on the field it missed his inspiring presence. Had he lived, Sindhia would not have had to meet Lake and Wellesley alone ; Madhaji would have brought under one standard — though in different parts of India — the horsemen and French contingent of Tippu, the powerful artillery of the Nizam, the whole force of the Rajputs, and every spear which Marhata influence could have collected from Puna, from Indur, from Barodah, and from Nagpur. The final result might not have been altered, but it would still have hung longer in the balance, and at least the great problem, in the terms in which it had presented itself to the mind of the greatest of Marhata leaders — the problem of a contest between an united India and the English — would have been fairly fought out. As it was his death settled it. Thenceforth a sinister result became a question only of time.
Daolat Rao Sindhia
Daolat Rao Sindhia was fifteen years old when he succeeded to the extensive dominions of his grand-uncle.
Young as he was, with a character still unformed, this prince had, at the very outset of his reign, to deal with problems which called for the wisdom of a practical statesman. The first of these was that raised by the death of the Peshwa.
On October 25, 1795, the Peshwa Madhu Rao, in a fit of profound melancholy, deliberately threw him-self from a terrace of his palace, and injured himself so
much that he died two days later. An event more fraught with importance to India could scarcely have occurred. Madhu Rao was young, well-disposed, and entirely dependent upon his minister, the famous Nana Furnawis. His nearest relative was his cousin, Baji Rao, son of Raghunat Rao, a young man of great talent, utter unscrupulousness, and greater ambition, but detested by Nand Furnawis, who even then kept him in restraint in the hill fort of Sewneri.
Daolat Rao had already been to Puna. He had taken part in the almost bloodless campaign of 1795 against the Nizam, had renewed at Puna with Nana Furnawis the friendship which had existed, on the surface, between that minister and his father, and had already reached Jamgaon on his return to Hindostan, when he was recalled by an express from the Nana to deliberate as to the succession to the vacant Peshwaship.
The plan adopted by the Nana, in consultation with Holkar, Sindhia, and other chiefs, was to put aside Baji Rao, and to authorise one of the widows of Madhu Rao to adopt an heir. But Baji Rao, apprised of this, began to manoeuvre on his side. He first gained over Daolat Rao's chief minister, Balloba Tattai, and then Daolat Rao himself — the latter by the offer of territory bringing in a revenue of four lakhs of rupees, and the payment of the whole charge of his army during his stay at Puna.
Into the intrigues which followed it is not necessary here to enter. They mostly concern the youthful Daolat Rao in that they were the cause of his concluding a marriage which cannot but be termed unfortunate. In their course Baji Rao, then under surveillance in the camp of Sindhia, had been started off by the minister of the latter, Balloba Tattai, towards Hindostan. Now this escort was commanded by Sukharam Ghatgay, a man of the most unscrupulous character. Baji Rao gained him over by promising to pay two millions sterling to Daolat Rao on his becoming Peshwa ; to have, then, Ghatgay
appointed as Sindhia's prime minister : he arranged, too, that Ghatgay's daughter should marry Daolat Rao ; and that Ghatgay should obtain the village of Kagul, in inam. 1 Most of these conditions were subsequently carried out.
But before this happened Daolat Rao had asserted the preponderance of his power in a very remarkable manner. A quarrel occurring in the house of Holkar consequent upon the death of Tukaji Holkar, Daolat Rao interfered to support the party of the imbecile son, Khasi Rao, against his more able brother. The contest resulted in the death of the brother and the capture of his infant son. With a cretin, then, as the representative of Holkar, Daolat Rao had apparently nothing to fear in Central India.
He fortified his influence likewise on the western coast by the capture of the fort of Kolabah, imprisoning the ruler, and transferring that principality to his near relative, Babu Rao Angria.
Differences of Baji Rao with Daolat Rao
But all this time Baji Rao was anxious to get rid of him. He had already rid himself of his able minister, Nana Furnawis, and now he thought Daolat Rao's turn had come. He executed his plans with an ingenuity of malice not to be surpassed. First, in March 1798, he married Ghatgay's daughter to Sindhia. This caused the latter to expend enormous sums of money. To meet his necessary payments, he asked Baji Rao to pay him the two millions he had promised. Baji Rao regretted his inability, but told Daolat Rao that if he would appoint Ghatgay his minister, he would know how to raise the necessary sums. Ghatgay was consequently appointed, and he did succeed, by a system of extortion, torture, and oppression, unparalleled in the history of Western India, in screwing enormous sums out of the people. But by this proceeding, the very name of Sindhia became hateful to the masses.
- 1.inam a gift from t a superior, free from all rent to Government.
This was what Baji Rao had plotted. He thought now that the pear was ripe. He determined to rid himself for ever of Daolat Rao. The scene that followed is thus told by the facile pen of Captain Grant Duff: ' In this state of things ' which I have described ' Sindhia's unpopularity having become extreme, Amrat Rao (the adopted brother and prime minister of the Peshwa), with Baji Rao's cognisance, prepared Abba Kali, the commander of one of the Peshwa's regular battalions, to be ready to rush in, upon an appointed signal, and seize Sindhia. Daolat Rao was invited, on business, to the Peshwa's palace ; but the invitation being declined, a positive order was sent by Baji Rao desiring his attendance. He obeyed thesummons, and soon after he sat down, Baji Rao told him he had sent for him to desire an explanation of his conduct ; and, suddenly assuming a tone of authority and decision for which the other was quite unprepared, he required of him to declare whether he was master or servant ? Sindhia having answered with respect and humility, that he was the Peshwa's servant, and ready to show his dependence by his obedience, Baji Rao reminded him of the insolence, violence, and cruelty which he and his servants had used, in numberless instances, towards the servants and subjects of his government, in the city, and even in his own palace ; he declared that " the contempt and disrespect thus shown towards his person and authority he could bear no longer, and therefore ordered Sindhia to remove to Jamgaon." Daolat Rao's reply was couched in the mildest terms ; but whilst he expressed his willingness to obey, he declared his inability to move, from want of funds to pay his troops ; " that he had incurred large debts by placing his Highness on the musnud, which it was incumbent on his Highness to discharge ; when that was effected he would immediately quit Puna." At this moment Amrat Rao asked his brother if he should give the signal ; but Baji Rao's heart failed him ; he had not
courage to proceed in the design, and thus gave his friends the first decided proof of that imbecility which swayed most of the actions of his life. Sindhia withdrew from the presence in a manner the most respectful, but with a mind filled with suspicion and distrust ; and Baji Rao had afterwards the baseness, as well as the weakness, to tell him what Amrat Rao had intended, and to advise him to be upon his guard.' 1
Then followed a series of intrigues and counter intrigues, which often seemed to threaten open hostilities between Daolat Rao and his liege lord. These were complicated by the complaints, ending in revolt, made by the widows of Madhaji that not only did they not receive the attention due to their rank, but that their ordinary comforts were circumscribed. After, as I have said, intrigue and counter intrigue, after shots had been exchanged, the mediation of the British resident solicited, and embassies for aid sent to independent powers, matters were compromised by the dismissal from office of the miscreant Ghatgay and his agent Garway, their confinement, and the release of Nana Furnawis.
But affairs still continued for some time in a very disordered condition. Daolat Rao's treatment of the widows of his predecessor, still in revolt, had induced a large and influential body of chiefs to join their cause. The reappointment by Daolat Rao of Balloba Tattai as minister did at least put an end to this scandal, as he used his great influence and judgment with effect in his master's cause, but still affairs did not prosper. There was a laxity of principle about Daolat Rao which manifested itself in all the important transactions of his life. The death of the Peshwa's able minister, Nana Furnawis, in the year 1800, showed him again in the light of a man who would scruple at nothing to seize the property of others. He scrambled with the Peshwa for the dead man's possessions. This was always the case when money was ---
- 1 History of the Marhatas, vol. iii.
in question ; but when it was a matter of personal revenge the two chiefs were ready to play into each other's hands. It would be waste of time to pursue further the infamous courses adopted by each, from the displacement of Balloba Tattai in favour of the infamous Ghatgay by Sindhia, to the ruin of the friends and adherents of the deceased Nana by the Peshwa.
At length Daolat Rao felt it was absolutely necessary for him to return to Hindostan. The progress of Jeswant Rao Holkar in Malwa was the immediate object which rendered that return imperative. He accordingly set out northwards towards the end of November at the head of the main body of his troops, and having secured bills from the Peshwa to the amount of forty-seven lakhs of rupees.
But his return was not allowed to accomplish itself without opposition from the ambitious Jeswant Rao. In June 1801, this daring chieftain inflicted two successive defeats on strong detachments sent by Sindhia for the protection of Ujjain. The following month he made a bold attack upon Sindhia's great park of artillery, defended only by four battalions of infantry and a few cavalry ; and though the gallantry of Sindhia's general, an English-man named Brownrigg, caused his repulse, yet the attack showed to what lengths so determined an enemy might proceed.
At the same time the repulse saved Sindhia. Up to this time Daolat Rao had displayed only an impetuosity, a recklessness, and a want of judgment, combined with an entire absence of scruple, which augured ill for the future. But, warned by the danger from which lie had just escaped, he now hastened to concentrate his forces. Having accomplished this, he waited till he had been rejoined by his father-in-law, Ghatgay, and then marched on Indore. Jeswant Rao moved to its succour, and a battle took place on October 14, which terminated in the complete defeat of Holkar and the sack of his capital,
Had Daolat Rao followed up this victory, Jeswaut Rao's career was ended for ever. But he never, throughout his life, showed any of the great qualities of a general. He preferred to negotiate, and Jeswant Rao, amusing him for a while, went off suddenly to renew hostilities in Khandesh. A force which Sindhia had dispatched to oppose him, under Seodaseo Rao, was completely defeated near Puna on October 25, 1802, by the intrepid Jeswant Eao. But this defeat was more disastrous to the Peshwa than to Sindhia, as it forced the former to accede to the treaty of Bassein, a treaty by which ' he sacrificed his independence as the price of his protection.' To such a result had the divergence from the policy of Madhaji led the Marhata power. He had invited union with a view to combination against the English. The disunion of those who followed him had placed one of the three great Marhata chiefs, the highest in point of rank, very much in the power of the English.
Daolat Rao was not insensible to the great mistakes which had been committed. In the treaty of Bassein he saw not only the subversion of the vast plans of his great uncle, but a threat against himself. Though invited to become a party to the defensive portion of the treaty, he expressly refused. And from this time he turned all his efforts to the welding together of the union, which had been the dream of Madhaji, and for the same purpose, viz., the expulsion of the English from Northern, Central, and Western India.
But he was too late. Holkar refused to join him. His preparations, though denied, were too patent. The Governor-General, therefore, Marquess Wellesley, with a wise prescience, determined to anticipate him, and to bring the question at once to a crisis.
It is no part of my plan to detail the military operations which followed. It will suffice to say that at Aligarh on August 29, at Delhi on September 11, at Assaye on the 23rd, at Agra on October 10 and 18, at
Laswari on November 1, at Argaum on November 29, 1803, Daolat Rao had to admit the ruin of his ambitions hopes. His troops, especially those trained by De Boigne, and who greatly distinguished themselves at Laswari, fought remarkably well ; many died in their ranks ; but they were not a match either for British soldiers, or for their own countrymen well led by a sufficient number of British officers. The battalions trained by De Boigne, and officered on a system analogous to that now known as the irregular system, could not stand against their countrymen and kinsmen, led by European officers four times as numerous as their own.
Treaty of Surji Anjengaom
The result was that Daolat Rao, roughly awakened from his dream, was forced to accept on December 30, 1803, very unfavourable conditions from his conqueror. By the treaty signed on that day, and known as the Treaty of Surji Anjengaom, Daolat Rao ceded to the British Government and its allies his territory between the Jumna and Ganges, and all situated to the northward of Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Gohad ; the forts of Ahmadnagar and Bharoch and their districts ; his possessions between the Ajunta Ghat and the Godavery. He renounced all his claims on the Mogul emperor, on the Peshwa, the Nizam, and the Gaikwar, as well as on the Rajas who had assisted the British, and whom he declared independent of his authority. There were other minor conditions which it is scarcely necessary to enumerate.
One article, however, must be stated. It was left optional to Daolat Rao to become a party to the defensive alliance, receiving a subsidiary force, to be paid from the revenues of the territories already ceded. Daolat Rao eventually agreed to this, and on February 27, 1804, a new treaty was drawn up at Burhanpur, by which Daolat Rao agreed to subscribe to the defensive alliance, and to permit the cantoning, near his boundary, but within British territory, of a subsidiary force of six thousand
infantry. But the conditions of this second treaty were not acted upon.
It was, indeed, not the intention of Daolat Rao that the conditions of the treaty of Surji Anjengaom should be considered as binding on him for ever. And a circumstance occurred early in the following year which gave him great hopes of being able to shake it off altogether. On April 16, 1804, the Marquess Wellesley, unable to obtain any satisfactory assurance from Holkar, declared war against that chief. Notwithstanding Colonel Monson's mishap, Holkar was reduced, in the course of the campaign that followed, almost to extremities, when Daolat Rao, instigated by his minister Ghatgay, expressed his determination to aid him. He preceded any overt demonstrations in his favour, however, by seizing the person of Mr. Jenkins, the acting British resident in his camp, and plundering his property. And although the Governor-General accepted the excuses made by Daolat Rao for this outrage, the latter did not relax his preparations, but actually received in his camp Jeswant Rao and other chiefs then fighting against the English. This act was looked upon by the British general as an act of hostility, and he advanced against Sindhia. But the two chiefs retreated to Ajmer. Here their hereditary rivalry broke out again, and Daolat Rao found means to reconcile himself with the Governor-General. One good effect of the temporary union was the dismissal of the minister Ghatgay. He was succeeded by Ambaji Inglia, a man more inclined to cautious and prudent counsels.
The replacement of the illustrious Marquess Wellesley by Lord Cornwallis at this conjuncture gave Daolat Rao the opportunity of altering the treaty of Surji Anjengaom to his own advantage. He had violated it in many particulars. Amongst other infractions he had retained Gohad and Gwalior, he had allied himself with a chief in arms against the English, he had not respected the sacred character of an envoy. But Lord Cornwallis was pre-
pared to overlook these errors committed by a prince smarting under defeat. He accordingly agreed to negotiate a new treaty on more liberal terms. By virtue of this, signed at Allahabad on November 23, 1805, Gwalior and Gohad were ceded to Sindhia, the Chambal was constituted the northern boundary of his territory ; the British Government bound itself not to make treaties with Udaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, or any chiefs tributary to Sindhia or Malwa, Mewar, or Marwar, or to interfere in any arrangements he might make regarding them ; it likewise granted to Daolat Rao, his wife and daughter, a pension and jaghirs. He, on his part, relinquished the pension of fifteen lakhs of rupees granted to certain officers in his service, and resigned the main districts of Dholpur, Bari, and Rajkerrah, reserved to him by the first treaty. He promised never to re-admit into his service the ex-minister Ghatgay. Such were the main provisions of the treaty ; in other essential points the stipulations of the treaty of Surji Anjengaom were adhered to. Though peace was thus restored to the dominions of Daolat Rao, it by no means followed that it should be accompanied by internal tranquillity. And, in fact, the contrary was almost always the case. Daolat Rao spent upon his army far greater sums than the revenues of the country could afford. To meet these constantly increasing expenses he had recourse to a system than which a worse could scarcely be devised. He sent his troops out into the districts to feed themselves on what they might wring from the ryots. The system of Napoleon, that of making war support war, has been often and justly blamed. But he at least made the inhabitants of the enemy's country pay for his victorious soldiers. Daolat Rao made military rapine one of the principles of the administration of his own country. The result is thus recorded by Captain Grant Duff: 'Armies accustomed to rapine and violence in extensive regions were now’ he writes, ' confined to tracts comparatively small ; the
burden of their exactions became in many places intolerable, and districts, before cultivated and populous, were fast running to waste and violence.'
It can readily be imagined that the revenues of the country suffered in proportion. With every year they diminished. As for Daolat Rao himself, the only reliable source of private income he possessed arose from the pension and jaghirs granted to him and to his family by the British Government. But even with that, so frequently was he embarrassed, that he was forced to take advances at a ruinous rate of interest from the bankers of the country.
The same cause, impecuniosity, probably prevented Daolat Rao from taking advantage of the humiliation of Holkar by the British power, and of the consequent weakness of his dominions ; nor can it be doubted that for many years that followed it was mainly instrumental in keeping him on terms of peace with his former conquerors.
When, however, it became necessary for the Government of India, in 1817, to deal with the Pindaris, a great temptation seemed to offer itself to the restless spirit of Daolat Rao. The Pindaris had been the hangers-on of the Marhata camps during all the wars in the latter half of the eighteenth century. It is true they had plundered as well as fought ; probably indeed plundered more than fought. But to Sindhia they looked up as to their natural protector and liege lord. Strong in their own numbers, with his support they thought they must be irresistible. These, and other reasons at least as potent, were urged upon Daolat Rao. He was very much inclined to give way. He would, indeed, have given way but for the prescience of the Marquis of Hastings, who, informed of his hesitation, promptly placed the British troops in such a commanding position as to force him to an immediate decision. He had grown too wise by experience to doubt, then. On November 5, 1817, he signed a treaty
by which he agreed to locate his troops in positions from which they were not to emerge without the orders of the British Government; to give up the fortresses of Assirgarh and Hindia as security for the lines of communication and a guarantee for the performance of his engagements, and to surrender for three years the tribute of the Rajput states.
But Daolat Rao had been hesitating regarding other matters likewise. About this time the Peshwa had been endeavouring to resuscitate the old Marhata confederacy, That Daolat Rao, though he dared make no open demonstration in his favour, favoured secretly his plans, was proved by the fact that on the capture of his fortress of Assirgarh by the British on April 9, 1819, a letter was found in the possession of the Killadar directing him to obey all the orders of the Peshwa, at the time at war with the British. The penalty inflicted for this breach of faith was the permanent cession of the fortress to the English. The year prior to this discovery, Daolat Rao had, by treaty (dated June 25, 1818) readjusted the boundaries of his dominions with the English, he resigning Ajmer and other districts, in exchange for lands of equal value.
Daolat Rao survived the fall of the Peshwa (June 1818) nearly nine years of peace, but for him scarcely of prosperity. He died on March 21, 1827, at the comparatively early age of forty-eight. He had had a stormy and chequered career. The great projects of his predecessor had been scattered to the winds. Still he had fared better than his master, the Peshwa, better even than Holkar. He had, in fact, been preserved by the British power, in spite, as it were, of himself. Twice had he been thus saved. In 1805, the replacement of Marquess Wellesley by Lord Cornwallis secured to him peaceful possession of Gwalior and Gohad, which he had seized, and with which he would not have parted without a severe struggle; in 1817, the occupa-
tion of his country by the orders of the Marquis of Hastings, preserved him from casting in his lot with the Pindaris. It was to these acts of his enemies, far more than to any statesmanlike policy and political foresight of his own, that he left behind him territories capable of realising a revenue, under proper management, of nearly a million and a half sterling. His dominions, in fact, remained at his death almost in the same state in which they had been left by the treaty of 1805. The acquisitions made from him by the British Government comprised the principal part of the Delta of the Ganges and Jamna, from the source of the latter river to near its confluence with the former. They included the city of Delhi, which, however, with a tract of country round it, was continued under the nominal authority of the titular emperor, the real authority being vested in the British Resident. 1
Daolat Rao left no son. Seeing that he had no prospect of offspring, he sent to the Dekhan, shortly before his death, for the children of some distant relations, that he might select one from amongst them. The candidates, five in number, not arriving at Gwalior till after his death, the right of selection devolved upon his widow, Baiza Bai, daughter of the infamous Ghatgay, and who then filled the office of regent. She selected Mugat Rao, a distant relative, eleven years old. The ceremony of adoption took place on June 17, 1827, and the boy was married the same day to the granddaughter of Daolat Rao, by his daughter married to Dhubari Rao, Senapati.1 The following day he was placed on the throne, under the auspices of the British Government, with the title of Ali Jah Jankoji Rao, Sindhia.
Jankoji Rao Sindhia
The reign of this prince, which lasted over a period of sixteen years, was characterised by peace with his neighbours and turbulence within his own borders. In his early youth, and for ten years after his accession, the
- 1 Historical Sketch of the Princes of India.
ambition of his predecessor's widow, the Baiza Bai, caused him and his country endless trouble and annoyance. This lady began very soon to show that she intended to be the real ruler. Her late husband, she asserted, had nominated her to be regent during her entire lifetime. With a spirit worthy of the daughter of Ghatgay she began at once to put her plans into operation.
It must be admitted that the conduct of the British Government with respect to her claims was such as to encourage them. It declined to interfere beyond insisting that the Maharaja's seal should be always used in official communications. It made no effort to provide for the future good government of the country by instilling right principles into the mind of the young prince, nor did it even insist that he should receive any education at all. As a consequence he remained uneducated.
Thus left to their own devices it is easy to understand how the stronger mind of the experienced woman triumphed over the youth and inexperience of the never strong-minded boy. For the moment the Baiza Bai gained the day. And, had she been endowed with good judgment and sense, she might have kept her position till her death. But she was the worthy daughter of Ghatgay, as unscrupulous, as ambitious, as headstrong, and as impulsive as he had been. Instead of consolidating her position by governing the country in such a manner as to gain the confidence of the people instead of endeavouring to win the confidence of her ward she oppressed the former, and she kept the latter in a seclusion which resembled confinement. Vain were his remonstrances. The Baiza Bai was jealous of his possible influence, and made him feel that she was so.
To such a mode of procedure there could be only one result. Scarcely had the young prince attained the age of sixteen than (October 1832) he fled from the palace, and took refuge with the British Resident.
In December of the same year, the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck, paid a visit to Gwalior. Before he arrived the Baiza Bai had become reconciled to the young Maharaja, but the terms on which they lived had not improved, For her, then, the advent of the Governor-General was an event of great importance. He might side with her, or he might side with her ward. The efforts made by both parties to influence the Governor-General were incredible. But they found him impassive. He was apparently willing to recognise the Baiza Bai, so long as she did not attempt to interfere with the future rights of the Maharaja. To all the solicitations of the latter he replied, therefore, that it was impossible for him to interfere, but that if the Maharaja would abstain from all attempts to subvert the Baiza Bai's power, the British Government would prevent the regent adopting any other person, to the prejudice of his claim to the throne.
This negative policy satisfied nobody. Within seven months, then, of the departure of the Governor-General, the Maharaja again left the palace, and took refuge at the residency ; and although, by the Resident's persuasion, he was induced to return to the palace, the news of the step he had taken encouraged those who were discontented with the rule of the Baiza Bai to attempt a pronunciamento in his favour.
In point of fact, the Baiza Bai's rule had become so unpopular in the country, that the nobles and the people only wanted an excuse to rise against her. This excuse the conduct of the Maharaja afforded. The day following his flight from and return to the palace, almost all the troops at Gwalior rose in revolt against the Baiza Bai, and shouted for Jankoji Rao. The Rani, alarmed, attempted to escape, but her flight having been intercepted, she in her turn took refuge at the residency. Here, however, she was allowed to remain only on the condition that she would resign the sovereignty and quit the country. She was forced to agree, and quitted Gwalior for Dhol-
pur on July 13. The Maharaja had been proclaimed sovereign at Gwalior three days previously.
The proceedings of the Resident did not altogether meet the approval of Lord William Bentinck. He was censured for having called out the contingent to support the Maharaja's authority, and the Government of India declared its indifference as to whether the Maharaja or the Bai exercised the administrative power, its only object being to preserve general tranquility and its own reputation, recognising the ruler supported by the popular voice. In accordance with this view, whilst the Government of India forbade the Baiza Bai to use her asylum in the British territory for the purpose of organising an invasion of Gwalior, it placed no obstacle whatever in the way of the return of that lady to Gwalior with the view of throwing herself upon the support of her own people.
Thenceforth, however, the Baiza Bai had no connection with the administration of Gwalior, although she troubled the actual rulers in the vexatious manner of which an intriguing woman, in command of a large amount of money, is so well capable. But in the end, seeing every hope vanish, she renounced her ambitious views, and was allowed to return to Gwalior, where she died in 1862.
Jankoji Sindhia was a weak ruler. During the greater part of his reign the administration was in the hands of his maternal uncle, Mamah Sahib. But, to quote the words of Mr. Aitchison1 : ' The court was one constant scene of feuds and struggles for power amongst the nobles ; the army was in a chronic state of mutiny. The weakness of the internal government prepared the way for the hostilities with the British Government, which broke out shortly after the Maharaja's death, and resulted in an entire change of policy towards the Gwalior State’.
:1.Aitchison's Treaties, vol. iv. p. 208.
I have already stated that the reign of Jankoji was undisturbed by war. In fact the only two matters which connect his reign with foreign governments were the organisation of the contingent and the rounding of the borders of his territory by exchanges.
The reform of the contingent took place in the year 1837. Consisting originally, according to the treaty of 1817, of 5,000 horse, and reduced after the termination of the war to 2,000, it was resolved in ] 837 to establish it on the footing of a regiment of cavalry, one of infantry, and a company of artillery, commanded by European officers. To induce Jankoji to agree to this arrangement, it was resolved to restore to him the districts in Khandesh which had been made over temporarily to the British Government, Sindhia paying in lieu a sum equivalent to their net revenues. The expenses of the contingent were defrayed in part from those revenues, in part from the revenues of the retained Sagar districts, and the tributes from the Rajput states, formerly due to Sindhia.
Jankoji had no male children. In 1837, however, an attempt was made to substitute a male child for a female, to which his wife had just given birth. But the attempt coming to the knowledge of the Raja, it naturally miscarried. On the death of his wife the year following, he married her sister, Tara Bai, then little more than a child, the daughter of Jeswant Rao Gurpora.
In general matters the government of Jankoji showed itself eminently desirous to keep on good terms with the British Government. He gave every encouragement to the endeavours made by that Government to suppress Thagi and highway robbery till then extremely prevalent ; and he arranged for the trial and punishment within his own dominions of the prisoners charged and convicted. In 1838, when a mission from Nepal, supposed to entertain intentions hostile to the British Government, came to Gwalior, its members were arrested and sent back. Similarly in 1839, he arrested and placed at the
disposal of the British Resident an envoy from Dost Mahomed, ruler of Afghanistan.
In January 1840, Jankoji received a visit from the then Governor-General, the Earl of Auckland. It was merely a complimentary visit, but at an Asiatic court such modes of showing honour are highly esteemed.
Just three years later February 7, 1843 Jankoji Sindhia died. It will be seen from the sketch I have given of his life, that, at the best, his was a negative character. He did not possess one title of the genius of Madhaji, nor was he endowed even with the boldness and daring of his immediate predecessor. He took but little part in the government of the country. He was in that respect little more than a lay figure. His death, at the early age of twenty-seven, was certainly due neither to excess of work, to excess of horse exercise, nor to intellectual study.
The death of Jankoji without an heir, and without having adopted an heir, left the throne once more open to the intrigues of interested parties. But on this occasion the sound principle was adhered to of adopting the nearest relation. This nearest, though distant relation, was Bagirat Rao, son of Hanwant Rao, usually called Babaji Sindhia, and he was only eight years old. The adoption made by the widow, Tara Bai, with the assent of the great nobles, was approved of by the British Government. But it then became necessary to appoint a regent. Now the prime minister at the time of the death of Jankoji, and indeed for several years previously, had been the Raja's maternal uncle, Mamah Sahib. Of him the British Resident had reported only two years previously, that he was ' the most capable of the ministers of state,' and ' certainly the person of most influence at present.' It is true the Resident had somewhat qualified this testimony to the merits of the Mamah Sahib by an insinuation that he owed the retention of his position to the absolute confidence reposed in him by his master, ‘for,'
he adds, alluding to the influence, 'I am of opinion that it is likely to terminate with his nephew's, the Maharaja's, existence.' But when, on the demise of the Maharaja, this second part of the Resident's report appeared to be falsified by the selection of this very Mamah Sahib by the chiefs present at Gwalior to be sole regent, and the Resident reported that this selection had given universal satisfaction, the British Government could not but signify their approval.
But a few months showed that, in his report of two years before, the Resident had rightly divined that the influence of the Mamah Sahib was bound up with the existence of the late sovereign. For three months, indeed, if we may except the revolt of one battalion, speedily suppressed, all was quiet. But intrigue had not the less been at work. It was impossible, with a young widow bent on power, it should have been otherwise. Either women in such a position will find men weak enough to bend to their vices, or there will be men ambitious and unscrupulous enough to make tools of the women. The intrigue in this case formed no exception to the rule.
There happened to be a woman in the palace, possessed, or believed to be possessed, of great influence with Tara Bai, named Morengi. This woman had struck up an intimate friendship with Dada Khasji-wala, a man who had been appointed controller of the palace under the Mamah Sahib. The 'friendship' was soon suspected to cover a dangerous intrigue, and the woman was removed. But Dada Khasji-wala's movements still continued to excite suspicion. Mamah Sahib reported his conduct to the Resident, and, going further, taxed the Dada in person with want of loyalty. The latter assumed an air of virtuous indignation, denied the charge, and courted inquiry. Nothing could then be proved against him. But soon the object of his machinations became apparent. He assumed a haughtier tone. He openly bearded the regent. Suddenly, when the pear was ripe,
the widowed Rani, Tara Bai, expressed to the British Resident her determination to dismiss the Mamah Sahib from office.
From subsequent events it appeared that she had been made to believe that the Mamah Sahib, whose daughter had been married to the Maharaja, intended entirely to supersede her authority.
The British Resident remonstrated, but to no purpose. Mamah Sahib, whose friends fell from him, as though he were infectious, on the news of his disgrace, was dismissed, and fled from Gwalior. The Dada Khasji-wala became minister in his place.
The remarks made by the Governor-General at this crisis deserve to be quoted for the good sense they display. The Mamah Sahib, he recorded, was clearly an incapable, who ' had proved himself quite unfit to manage men or women, and a minister of Gwalior must manage both.' Lord Ellenborough saw no great offence to the British Government in the removal from office of a minister so incapable, nor did he wish to force upon the state an unpopular regent.’ Any form of administering the affairs of the Gwalior State which may effect the object of frontier, tranquillity will be satisfactory,' he wrote, ' to the British Government.'
It will thus be clear that the expulsion of the Mamah Sahib and the installation in his place of the Dada constituted no offence to the British Government. Such offence could only be created by divergence on the part of the Dada from the peaceful foreign policy pursued by the government of Sindhia subsequent to the year 1819.
Unfortunately for himself, the Dada did make that divergence. Probably having been installed by the favour of the army, he deemed it absolutely essential to keep the troops in a good humour and in a state of devotion to himself. The specific so successfully practised at Satory in 1850-51 the specific of ' sausages and champagne' had not then been invented, nor probably would
it have been quite suited to an eastern hemisphere. He was forced then upon a dangerous course. The army had forgotten Assaye and scarcely remembered Laswari. A new race had grown up, a race into whose ears the triumphs of Madhaji, and the commanding position of Daolat Rao had been sung from their earliest childhood. These men thirsted for action, and the Dada soon found that to retain their confidence it would be necessary to fan their hopes.
With this object he in a short time dismissed from the army, even with ignominy, all those officers who were favourable to the British, replacing them by the scum of Marhata society men who were ready for plunder and pillage at any price. Large presents of money were made to the soldiery, and they were gradually brought to a state of indiscipline bordering on revolt.
But to escape one danger the Dada had provoked another. The British Government could not at any time have tolerated a mutinous and hostile power for its hostility was undisguised within fifty miles of Agra. Still less was it possible for it to tolerate the existence of such an army, when another mutinous body of soldiers, the soldiers of the Punjab, threatened its northern boundary. Lord Ellenborough, however, was averse from severe measures. The mischief seemed to have been caused by one man, the Dada Khasji-wala, and he not unreasonably hoped that with the removal of the Dada it would disappear. The better to bring about this result, an officer in whom Lord Ellenborough had entire confidence, Colonel Sleeman, was appointed Resident at Gwalior.
The report of Colonel Sleeman confirmed the preexisting opinion that the Dada was at the root of the mischief. He described him as turbulent, restless, and intriguing ; an enemy of public order, and a fomenter of troubles with his neighbours ; at the same time so deficient in personal courage, that it was his habit, in moments of difficulty, ' to conceal himself in the most sacred of the female apartments.'
This report decided the Government. It determined to remove Dada Khasji-wala from Gwalior to a place of security within its own territories. To give force to its orders, it directed the assembly at Agra of an army of exercise.
But before the British Government could take any action in the matter, affairs had come to a crisis in Gwalior. The conservative party in the army, representing the views of those favourable to an alliance with the British, suddenly reasserted their position, and called for the dismissal of the obnoxious Dada, as the cause of all the evil. The Dada, to suppress this revolt, as he termed it, sent against the insurgents the troops who remained faithful to himself. But these were beaten, and the Dada himself was seized. After some discussion he was sent off, under an escort, to the British camp at Agra. But either the escort was merciful, or the Dada was profuse in his promises ; he was allowed to return.
After his return the Gwalior Durbar made one effort to procure permission for the confinement of the Dada within the Gwalior territories. But Colonel Sleeman was inexorable. Either, he said, the Dada must be surrendered, or British troops would march on Gwalior.
Still the Durbar hesitated, and the British troops accordingly broke ground. But it was not until the close approach of the Governor-General at the head of an army showed the impossibility of retaining the Dada, that he was surrendered.
But by that time, the British army had advanced too far to recede without obtaining a guarantee against the recurrence of such a danger. It continued then to move forward, the Governor-General intimating to the Durbar his wish to settle matters at a personal interview between Tara Bai and the Maharaja on the one side and himself on the other.
This interview was fixed for December 26. But the intelligence was extremely distasteful to the Gwalior
army. They determined then to fight for it. Massing the great body of their troops near the village of Maharajpur, they took the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Hugh Gough, by surprise, on the 28th, whilst a smaller detachment made a similar demonstration against the disjointed wing of the British army, under General Gray.
But it would not do. The Gwalior troops fought well ; they had everything in their favour ; they inflicted on us considerable loss, but they were beaten ; and Gwalior lay at the feet of Lord Ellenborough.
The way in which this nobleman dealt with the prostrate State will always be quoted as a masterpiece of policy. He made a friend of it a friend who stood the English in good stead during their troubles fourteen years later. By a treaty concluded on January 13, 1844, the sovereignty of the country was retained for Sindhia ; the government during the minority of the Raja was to be conducted according to the advice of the British Resident ; the British Government pledged itself to maintain the just territorial rights of Gwalior ; a territory yielding eighteen lakhs a year was to be ceded to the British Government for the maintenance of a contingent force, and other lands for the payment of debts due, and the expenses of the war ; and the army was to be reduced to 6,000 cavalry, 3,000 infantry, and 200 gunners with 32 guns.
Jaiaji Rao Sindhia
This arrangement ensured peace, an improved administrative system, and gratitude. From 1844 to 1857 the history of Gwalior was a history of peace and prosperity. In 1854 the young Maharaja Alijah Jaiaji Rao Sindhia became of age, and assumed the administration. Nor throughout the entire period were there the smallest symptoms of any disturbance of the political horizon.
But in 1857 the Bengal army mutinied. The prime minister of Jaiaji Rao, for four years previous to the out - break, had been a Brahman, named Dinkar Rao, one of the most honest, most far-seeing, and most capable men that Central India has ever produced. In his brief tenure
Of Office he had introduced large and beneficial reforms in the internal administration of the country, had swept away numberless abuses, and had made life comparatively easy for the cultivator of the soil. In effecting these reforms it would have been impossible for him not to have given some offence to a few of the ambitious families whose folly had fourteen years before pushed Dada Khasji-wala to defy the British. But in a time of peace and prosperity the machinations of such men were powerless.
But the rumbling of the coining mutiny had not been unfelt in Gwalior. It had given hope to the disaffected, and filled the minds of the aristocracy with ambitious ideas. But there were at least two men in that state free from the prevailing madness. These men were the Maharaja, Jaiaji Rao, and his able minister.
From the very first, with the full concurrence and support of that minister, Jaiaji Rao determined to cast in his lot with the British. Not in vain had Lord Ellen- borough, in 1844, displayed the prescient policy of a real statesman. Not in vain had he forborne from the lust of conquest, and restored to the minor sovereign intact his dominions, with a provision to secure their good administration during his minority. With an opportunity which Madhaji would have made decisive, which Daolat Rao even would have clutched at, Jaiaji Rao took upon him-self the task, which, under the circumstances of the feeling of the country, must have been pre-eminently difficult the task of being loyal to his engagements to the British, even when British supremacy seemed lowered, and British authority had been shaken off in districts within fifty miles of his capital.
Full of these loyal ideas, Jaiaji Rao's first movement was to send his own bodyguard to Agra to aid the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces in the suppression of the revolt. 1 They rendered excellent ser-
- 1. Red Pamphlet, Part II. pp. 192-3.
vice. His next was to place his entire contingent at the disposal of the same high officer. The offer was accepted. But it soon became evident that the causes which had induced the mutiny in the Bengal army had infected the sepoys of the Gwalior contingent with the virus of revolt.
No sooner had these men revolted than they placed their services at the disposal of Jaiaji Rao, and begged him to lead them against the British in Agra. To give due credit to the loyalty of Jaiaji Rao Sindhia at this crisis it should be remembered that not only were the insurgents in possession of the capital of the Moguls, but the entire country to the north-west of Agra was in revolt. British garrisons were beleaguered at Kanpur and at [[Lakhnau[[, and it seemed as though one decisive blow would finish with the English dominion north of Bengal proper. Had the Maharaja, then, acceded to the request of the sepoys, it was quite possible that with the 20,000 trained soldiers, men who afterwards gave evidence of the excellence of their discipline against General Wyndham at Kanpur, and against Lord Strathnairn after Jhansi, he might have struck that fatal blow.
To say that he must have felt his power, is only to credit him with ordinary capacity, and his capacity is at least beyond the average. But he was loyal and true. Had the ablest member of the Council of India been at his ear he could not have inspired him with counsels more calculated to prove beneficial to the British cause than those which he and his minister, with the instinct of loyal natures, followed of their own free will.
Not only did the Maharaja not accept the offer of his troops, but by dint of skilful management, by cajoling and by gifts of money, by pretended difficulties in the way of procuring carriage, he detained them. More than that,
when mutinous troops from Mau and the territories of Holkar passed through his dominions, he restrained his own troops from joining them. He succeeded, in fact, in retaining them in inaction till after Delhi had fallen, and Kanpur had been relieved. And when finally he did let them go, it was only that they might fall into the clutches of Sir Hugh Rose and Sir Colin Campbell.
It can easily be imagined that the loyalty of Jaiaji Rao to the British alliance had not made him popular with that large and augmenting class of self-seekers which the mutiny had called into existence. It was not long before the hostile feelings of these men were manifested. When in June 1858, the rebel troops under Tantia Topi entered Gwalior, not only had the power of the Maharaja to restrain his own men vanished entirely, but these made common cause against him, and forced him and his minister to flee for British protection to Agra. He was restored in the course of the same month by Sir Hugh Rose.
Jaiaji Rao's loyalty to the British
The loyalty of Jaiaji Rao to the British Government did not pass unnoticed. His conduct, indeed, had been so pre-eminently faithful that nothing could have excused its being passed over. By a treaty dated December 12, 1860, lands were restored to Sindhia yielding three lakhs of rupees a year ; and the exchange of lands he wished for for others of nearly equal value was arranged with the British Government. He received a sunnud conferring upon him the right of adoption, and permission to raise his infantry from 3,000 to 5,000 men and his guns from 32 to 36. In place of the revolted contingent the British Government agreed to maintain a subsidiary force.
Subsequently the name of Jaiaji Sindhia appeared in the first list of the Knights of the Star of India.
Since 1859 Jaiaji Rao has been his own prime minister. He has administered the country himself. His former minister, now Sir Dinkar Rao, lives mainly at Agra, in
which city his son is receiving the education of an English gentleman.
It is strange that, like all his predecessors, without one exception, Jaiaji Bao Sindhia has no legitimate male descendant. He has had three sons, but they died. He possesses the power of adoption, and this power he exercised in November 1865, by the selection of a youth named Ganpat Rao to be his successor. It has, however, been stipulated that in the event of his being blessed with offspring, his own son shall succeed him, Ganpat Rao being provided with an estate returning an annual income of a lakh of rupees.
Of the revenues of the country 78,38,900 rupees are derived from the land ; 14,70,202 from customs ; the remainder from the tributes of feudatories. The customs' revenue is realised from transit duties on iron, tobacco, sugar, and salt, all other articles being free, and from jaghir and local taxes. No transit duties are taken on the portion of the Agra and Bombay road and its branches passing through Sindhia's territories, or on the roads connecting Gwalior with Itawah, Farrukhabad, Datia, Jhansi, and Kalpi. 1
The Maharaja of Gwalior receives a salute of nineteen guns.
His territories may be described generally as being bounded on the north and north-west by the river Chambal ; on the east by Bundelkhand and the central provinces ; on the north by Bhopal and Dhar ; and on the west by Dholpur, Karauli, Jaipur, and Kota.
- 1. Aitchison's Treaties.