An historical sketch of the native states of India/Jaipur

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An historical sketch of the native states of India

By Col. G. B. Malleson, Publisher: Longmans, Green & Co. London (1875)

Part I - Chapter II: Jaipur

Foundation of Jaipur state


Area: 15,000 sq. miles. Population: 1,900,000. Revenue: 36,00,000 rupees. 1

THE kingdom of Jaipur, better known amongst the Rajputs as the kingdom of Amber or Dhundhar, was founded by Dhola Rae in the year 957. Dhola Rae was thirty-fourth in descent from Raja Nal, traditional founder of the kingdom and city of Narwar. Raja Nal is said to have been lineally descended from Kush, the second son of Rama, King of Koshula, whose capital was Ayodhia, the modern Oudh. Hence the reigning family in Jaipur

1 A large portion of of the State is alienated in jaghirs and religious grants. I record here the revenues the available receipts.- Aitchison's Treaties.


has been known from time immemorial as the Kutchwa family or rule.

The exploits of Dhola Rae can only be traced in the fabulous legends of the period. This much is clear that he conquered the country inherited by his descendants. That part of Rajputana was then divided amongst petty Rajputs and Mina chiefs, all owing allegiance to the Hindu Kings of Delhi. These he conquered in succession, and marrying the daughter of the Prince of Ajmer, he laid the foundations of a kingdom destined to be permanent.

Killed in battle, Dhola Rae was succeeded by his posthumous son by the daughter of the princess of Ajmer, named Kankal ; he, again, by his son Maidul Rao, a warrior and conquerer ; and he, in his turn, by Hundeo. Kuntal followed him, and he it was who completed the subjugation of the other aboriginal race of the Minas.

His successor, Pujun, was one of the most famous of the earlier monarchs of the dynasty. He married the sister of Pirthi Raj, King of Delhi, and commanded a division of that monarch's armies in many of his most important battles. He twice signalised himself in repelling invasions from the north, and, commanding at the time on the frontier, he defeated Shab-u-din in the Khyber pass, and pursued him towards Ghazni. His valour mainly contributed to the conquest of Mahoba, the country of the Chundails, of which he was left governor ; and he was one of the sixty-four chiefs who, with a chosen body of retainers, enabled the King of Delhi to carry off the Princess of Kanouj. But in this service Pujun lost his life.

From Pujun to Pirthi Raj there is nothing to record. The names of the intermediate sovereigns were Malesi, Bijul, Rajdeo, Kitun, Kontul, Junsi, Udaikurn, Nursing, Bunbir, Udharun and Khundrasen.

The ascent to the throne of Pirthi Raj marks an era in the dynasty. He had seventeen sons, of whom twelve


reached man's estate. To these twelve and to their successors he assigned twelve chambers in the house of Kutchwa ; and he limited the future right of his succession in his dominions to the descendants of those twelve chambers. Of Pirthi himself little is known but that he made a pilgrimage to the Indus, and that he was assassinated by his own son, Bhim, ' whose countenance,' says the chronicle, 'was like the mouth of a demon.'

Marriage alliance with Akbar

From Pirthi Raj we come down to Baharma, the first prince of the dynasty who paid homage to the Mahomedan power. He followed the fortunes of Baber, and received from Humayun, prior to his expulsion by the Pathan dynasty, a high imperial title as ruler of Amber.

His son, Bhagwan Dass, became still more intimately allied with the Mogul dynasty. He was the friend of Akbar, and gave his daughter in marriage to Prince Selim, afterwards Jehangir one of the first instances on record of a prince who 'sullied Rajput purity by matrimonial alliance with the Islamite.' 1

Bhagwan Dass had no children, but was succeeded by his nephew Maun Singh, son of his youngest brother. This prince was the most brilliant character at Akbar's court. As the emperor's lieutenant he was entrusted with the most arduous duties, and added conquests to the empire from Khotan to the ocean. Orissa was subjugated by him, Assam humbled and made tributary, and Kabul maintained in her allegiance. He held in succession the governments of Bengal and Bihar, of the Dekhan and of Kabul. He had the weakness, however, to interfere in the succession to the throne of Akbar in favour of Khusru, eldest son of Jehangir, and his own cousin. Though too powerful to be openly chastised, Maun Singh was never forgiven. He died governor of Bengal in 1615.

Rao Bhao Singh succeeded him a man of no mark. Nor was Māha, who followed him, of more note. Upon

1. Tod. Elphinstone relates (p. 439) that Baharmal ' had, at an early ' period, given his daughter in marriage to Akbar.'


his death, Jehangir, on the advice, it is said, of Joda Bai, his Rajputni wife, gave the kingdom of Amber to Jai Singh, nephew to Maun Singh, a young man of great promise.

Mirza Raja Jai Singh

It was a fortunate selection. Jai Singh, known in history as the Mirza Raja, restored by his conduct the glories of the family name. He performed great services during the reign of Aurangzib, who bestowed on him one of the highest dignities of the empire. He made prisoner the celebrated Sivaji, but afterwards, finding that his pledge of safety was likely to be broken, was accessory to his escape. But this instance of good faith was more than counterbalanced by his previous desertion of Prince Dara, in the war of succession, a desertion which crushed the hopes of that brave prince, and caused the death of his son Soliman. His conduct with respect to Sivaji, combined with the haughtiness of demeanour which he assumed in later years, alienated Aurangzib, who from that moment determined to destroy him. A foolish vaunt which the Raja was in the habit of making in his durbar, and which reached the Emperor's ears, only intensified this resolve.1 He found it difficult for some time to meet anyone who would or could execute his wishes. He had recourse, therefore, to the diabolical expedient of appealing to the ambition of the Raja's son. He promised the throne of Jaipur to Kirat Singh, younger son of Jai Singh, to the prejudice of his elder brother, Ram Singh, if he would assassinate his father. Kirut Singh consented, mixed poison with his father's opium, then returned to claim the investiture. Aurangzib, however, only gave him a district. From this period, says the chronicle, Amber declined.

Ram Singh

Ram Singh, who succeeded Jai Singh, and his son and

1. It was the custom of the Raja, sitting with his twenty-four chiefs in durbar, to hold up two glasses, one of which he called Satara (Sivaji), the other Delhi (Aurangzib). Then, dashing one to the ground, he would exclaim:' Theregoes Satara ; the fate of Delhi is in my right hand, and this, with like facility, I can cast away ! ' Tod, whom I have followed almost textually.

successor, Bishen Singh, were men of little mark.

Sawai Jai Singh

The third in order, Jai Singh II, better known as Sawai Jai Singh, deserves more notice. This prince came to the throne in 1699, eight years prior to the demise of Aurangzib. He served with distinction in the Dekhan, but on the emperor's death he sided with Prince Bedar Bukt, son of Prince Azim, who had at once declared himself emperor. With these he fought the battle of Dholpur (June 1707) which ended in their death and the elevation of Bahadur Shah. For his opposition Jaipur was sequestrated and an imperial governor sent to take possession ; but Jai Singh entered his estates, sword in hand, drove out the imperial garrisons, and formed a league with the Rana of Udaipur and the Raja of Jodhpur for their mutual defence against Mahomedan aggression. 1

Jai Singh II. was, perhaps, the most cultivated sovereign that ever reigned in India. He was fond of art, of mathematics, and of science. In astronomical knowledge he was not inferior to the best of his European contemporaries. He drew up a set of tables from which astronomical computations are yet made and almanacs constructed ; he caused Euclid's Elements, the best treatises on plain and spherical trigonometry, and Napier's Logarithms, to be translated into Sanskrit.

He built a new city for his capital, the marble city of Jaipur, the only one in India erected on a regular plan. He built observatories, with instruments of his own invention, at Delhi, Jaipur, Banaras, and Mathura, upon a scale of Asiatic grandeur, and their results were so correct as to astonish the most learned.

But besides the construction of a capital and objects of science of which I have enumerated only a part Jai

1. By one of the clauses of this agreement, the Rajas of Jaipur and Jodhpur, with the view to recover the privilege of marrying with the Udaipur family, forfeited by their matrimonial connection with the Moguls, agreed that, on the occasion of such alliances, the issue of the Udaipur princess should succeed to the throne in preference to elder sons by other wives. It was an unfortunate arrangement, and brought great disasters both on Jaipur and Udaipur.


Singh erected, at his own expense, caravanserais or public inns, for the free use of travellers in many of the provinces. He carried on these works in the midst of perpetual wars and court intrigues. And although he did not entirely escape the debasing influence of the latter, he not only steered his country through its dangers, but raised it above the principalities around it. He sustained the Mogul empire as long as the representative of the Mogul rights would exert himself to support them, but when he found himself unable to inspire the wretched Farokhsir even ' with the energy of despair,' he gave up the task and devoted himself with renewed energy to his favourite pursuits, astronomy and history. On the accession of Mahomed Shah in December 1720, Jai Singh was called from his philosophical studies and appointed the emperor's lieutenant for the provinces of Agra and Malwa in succession, and it was during this interval of comparative repose that he erected those monuments which irradiate this dark epoch of the history of India. 1 He procured at this time also the repeal of the jezia or polltax on infidels, imposed by the bigotry of Aurangzib, and he repressed the incursions of the Jats.

Re-appointed in 1732 lieutenant for the Mogul in Malwa, he saw that it was vain, in the disorganised state of the empire, to attempt to repel the aggressions of the Marhatas. With the full consent, then, of Mahomed Shah, he formed an intimacy with the famous Baji Rao, and induced the emperor in 1734 to transfer to his keeping the province of Malwa. The influence he thus obtained was usefully employed in checking the excesses of the Marhatas, and in delaying their advance on the capital. During the invasion of Nadir Shah he wisely held aloof from participating in a contest in which there was no hope of success. Jai Singh II, died in 1743, after a prosperous reign of forty-

1. From his observations of seven years at the various observatories he constructed a set of astronomical tables these were completed in 1728.


four years. They had been years of prosperity for Jaipur in the midst of the general declension of the other states and kingdoms of Hindostan. He had added to it the districts of Deoti and Rajor, and he had governed it wisely and well. He is said to have been vain, and fond of strong drink. Yet he will ever be remembered as one of the most remarkable men of his age and nation. 'Science,' says Colonel Tod, ' expired with him.'

Ishwari Singh

His eldest son, Ishwari Singh, succeeded him. Yet, according to the convention made with Udaipur, the right of succession lay with his younger brother, Madho Singh, son of a princess of Mewar. And Madho Singh not only preferred his claims, but at a great cost1 obtained the aid of Holkar to support them. He succeeded, and probably would have proved a successful ruler but for the troubles brought on him by the rising power of the Jats. The long quarrels with that people were brought to an issue by a battle, which, though the Jats were defeated in it, proved destructive to Jaipur in the loss of all her chieftains of note. Madho Singh himself died four days later. Had he lived, it is thought that he might have prevented the decline of the State of Jaipur. He inherited no small share of his father's learning, and cultivated the society of men of science. He built several cities, of which that called after him, Madhopur, near the celebrated fortress of Ranthambore, the most secure of the commercial cities of Rajwarra, is the most remarkable.

Pirthi Singh II

Pirthi Singh II., a minor, succeeded, under the guardianship of the mother of his younger brother Pertap. She was an ambitious and unscrupulous woman, under the evil influence of her paramour, a low-born elephant-driver. After nine years of her dissolute sway, Pirthi Singh II. died from a fall from his horse, not how-ever without suspicion of having been poisoned. Before he died he had married two wives, from one of whom was

1. The districts of Rampura Bhaupura and Tonk Rampura, with payment for his 840,000/., were assigned to Holkar as support.

begotten a son, Maun Singh. The youth, however, was spirited away by his mother's relatives, and taken, first to his maternal roof, subsequently to Gwalior, there to grow up under the protection of Sindhia.

Pratap Singh

The half-brother, Pratap Singh, son of the dissolute Rani, succeeded Pirthi Singh II. He ruled the country twenty-five years. During his minority Jaipur was a prey to constant feuds, in the course of which, while she had the good fortune to be rid by poison of the Rani and her elephant-driver, she suffered greatly from Marhata depredations and Marhata insolence. On attaining his majority Raja Pertap was determined to rid himself of those locusts. He formed accordingly that league with Raja Bije Singh, of Jodhpur, which commenced so happily with the defeat of the Marhatas at Tonga (1787). But this triumph was short-lived. The defeats sustained at Patun and Mairta (1791), and the disruption of the alliance with Jodhpur brought back the enemy. Holkar imposed a heavy annual tribute on the State, which he afterwards transferred to Amir Khan. From that period to the year 1803 the country was alternately desolated by Sindhia's armies and hordes of other robbers, who frequently contested with each other the possession of the spoils.

Pratap Singh was a gallant prince and not deficient in judgment ; but neither his gallantry nor his prudence could contend successfully against so many obstacles. He died in 1803.

Raja Jagat Singh

His son and successor, Raja Juggut Singh, ruled for nearly sixteen years with the disgraceful distinction of being the most dissolute prince of his race or of his age. His life did not disclose one redeeming virtue amidst a cluster of effeminate vices, including even cowardice. He was a debauchee, a spendthrift, and a libertine, without a spark of honour or virtue in his composition. It was the lust excited in him by the fame of Kishna Komari, the beautiful daughter of the Rana of Udaipur, which provoked that contest which, with the aid of the faithless


marauder, Amir Khan, brought ruin to Rajputana.1 To dwell upon the life of such a man would be to record actions from which an honourable mind recoils. He died unpitied, unlamented, even by his creatures, December 21, 1818.

Yet during his reign an event occurred which was to connect Jaipur with the British. In 1803 a treaty was signed uniting that country in a subsidiary alliance with the alien nation. The Raja, however, fulfilled his obligations very imperfectly, and Lord Cornwallis, who had resolved to abandon the system of subsidiary alliance, declared the connection with Jaipur to be dissolved, and withdrew that State from the protection of the British Government. This policy was pursued by Sir George Barlow, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Lord Lake, made both on the grounds of general policy and good faith.2

The expediency of the dissolution of this alliance was considered to be very questionable by the Home Government, who in 1813 directed that Jaipur should again be taken under protection whenever an opportunity might offer. But owing to the outbreak of the war with Nepal it was considered better to postpone any such measure until it could be adopted as part of the general scheme for the suppression of the Pindaris. In 1817, when negotiations were opened, it was found that the cancelment of the previous treaty had rendered the Jaipur State reluctant to enter into a fresh alliance. In time, however, the increasing necessities of the State, the example of its neighbours, and the apprehension of being excluded from British protection, the continued exactions of Amir Khan's troops, and the arrangements in progress for forming separate engagements with the small states dependent on Jaipur, led at length to her accepting a treaty. By this (April 2, 1818) the protection of 'the British Government was extended to Jaipur ; the Maha-

1 Vide Appendix C. 2 Aitchison's Treaties.

raja agreed to furnish troops on the requisition of the British Government, and to pay an annual tribute of eight lakhs of rupees until the revenue should exceed forty lakhs, after which five-sixteenths were to be paid in addition to the eight lakhs. The fresh duty urged on the Maharaja after the conclusion of the treaty was the resumption of the lands usurped by the nobles, and the reduction of the nobles to their proper relation of subordination to the Maharaja. Through the mediation of Sir David Ochterlony agreements were entered into similar to those formed at Udaipur. The usurped lands were restored to the Maharaja, and the nobles were guaranteed in their legitimate rights and possessions.1

Raja Juggut Singh left no issue, legitimate or illegitimate, and no provision had been made for a successor during his life. But as it was necessary to inaugurate a successor ' to light the funeral pile,' it became incumbent to nominate some one. The choice fell upon a distant relative, Mohun Singh, son of the ex-prince of Narwar, the fourteenth in descent from Pirthi Raj I., Raja of Jaipur. But as the election was void, in consequence of its having been made without the due forms and in favour of one not nearest in order of succession, it is probable that a civil war would have ensued but for the timely discovery that one of the widowed queens of Juggut Singh was enceinte.

At three o'clock on April 1, a council of sixteen queens, widows of the late prince, and the wives of all the great vassals of the State, assembled to ascertain the fact of pregnancy, whilst all the great barons awaited in the ante-chambers of the zenana the important response of the council of matrons. When it was declared that the Bhattiani queen was pregnant beyond a doubt, they consulted until seven, and then they sent in a declaration,

:1 Aitchison's Treaties, from which the account in the text is almost literaily taken


acknowledging their unanimous belief of the fact ; adding that, ' should a son be born, they would acknowledge him as their lord, and to none else pledge allegiance.' 1

On April 25, 1819, four months and four days after Juggut Singh's death, a son was ushered into the world with the usual demonstrations of joy, and received as autocrat of the Kutchwas ; whilst the youthful interloper was removed from the throne, and thrust back into his native obscurity. 2

Jai Singh

The young child was named Jai Singh. The Government was assumed in his name by his mother. But during the minority of the young prince, Jaipur was a scene of corruption and misgovernment, and the British Government found it necessary to appoint an officer to reside at the capital, and to authorise him to interfere in the internal administration of the State, with a view of guarding the interests of the British Government, and securing the payment of the tribute. 3

In 1834-35 the British Government having found it necessary to march a force into Shaikhawati for the purpose of settling that province, took possession of the Jaipur share of the Sambhar salt lake as a security for the repayment of the expenses of the campaign. Whilst these, and arrangements connected with Shaikhawati were being matured, Raja Jai Singh died at Jaipur under circumstances which could not fail to raise the strongest suspicions that his premature demise had been compassed by the minister, Sanghi Jotharam, and Rupa Budarun, a female attendant in the palace. Jotharam had been the paramour of the late Rani, and under her influence had acquired great power in the State, supplanting in the office of minister the nominee of the British Government. The agent to the Governor-General proceeded therefore to Jaipur to make inquiries, reform the administration, and assume the guardianship of the infant left by the Raja. The strong measures he adopted led

1 Tod. 2 Ibid. 3 Aitchison.


to the formation of a conspiracy by Jotharam. The life of the agent, Colonel Alves, was attempted, and his assistant, Mr. Blake, was murdered. The murderers were seized and executed by order of the minister, and Jotharam and his fellow conspirators were imprisoned for life in the fort of Chanar. 1

Raja Ram Singh

The young Raja, Ram Singh, was placed under the guardianship of the British political agent. Under his superintendence, a council of regency, consisting of five of the principal nobles, was formed, and to their decision all measures of importance were submitted. The army was reduced, every branch of the administration was reformed, and sati, slavery, and infanticide were prohibited. The tribute was found to be far in excess of a due proportion of the revenue ; a remission was therefore made in 1842 of forty-six lakhs of rupees, and the annual amount was reduced to four lakhs. 2

Maharaja Ram Singh did good service during the mutinies. For this he received a grant of the district of Kotkasim, under a promise to respect the revenue settlements made whilst the district had been under British management. He also received the privilege of adoption.3

Ram Singh is an intelligent prince, and devotes his best energies to the development of the resources of his country. With this object he has opened out roads, constructed railways, and given a great impulse to education. During the scarcity of 1868 he abolished transit duties on the importation of grain into his domains ; and in the affairs of government generally he has shown an intelligent appreciation of the requirements of the age.

Maharaja Ram Singh is extremely fond of the society of cultivated Englishmen and women. He has twice been a member of the Legislative Council of the Viceroy of India.

The Maharaja is entitled to a salute of seventeen guns.

1 Aitchison. 2 Aitchison's Treaties. 3 Ibid.

Go to Index of the Book

End of Part I - Chapter II: Jaipur