The Jats - Their Role in the Mughal Empire/Appendix A

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The Jats - Their Role in the Mughal Empire
The book by Dr Girish Chandra Dwivedi, Edited by Dr Vir Singh 2003.

Appendix-A: Side Light on the Character and Career of Muhkam Singh

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Owing to the silence of our autthorities, we are left to make conjectures regarding Muhkam's character. Though devoid of some of the good qualities of his father, Muhkam Singh seems to have shared Churaman's love of money and of predatory life. His fixing cash compensation for the release of the enemy soldiers, captured, in course of the fight with Nilkanth Nagar, is a unique example in this regard. His treatment of his father, younger brother, Zul Qaran, and cousin, Badan Singh reveals his rudeness; pugnacity, egoism, jealous disposition and contemptuous disregard of family affections. He was extremely ambitious and selfish too. Muhkam Singh's offer to embrace Islam to save his life, when a prisoner in Muhammad Shah's camp, and his panic flight during Jai Singh's invasion indicate that he lacked heroic fortitude and tenacity of purpose too. Yet, the credit of scoring, until then, the biggest ever victory over the imperial forces by a Jat leader, goes to him when he completely routed Nilkanth Nagar, the deputy governor of Agra.

Muhkam Singh's tenure in power was too short-lived to enable us to properly judge him as a leader. But in spite of it, his incapability in that capacity does not remain concealed to us. Imperious and self-indulgent, he was incapable of inspiring confidence in his own people. As a result, a sizable section of them headed by Badan Singh turned hostile to him, and helped the imperialists in defeating him, as disclosed above.

Unfortunately, we don't have complete and systematic information about his life, following his flight to Raja Ajit Singh (c. 8th November, 1722). Whatever scanty notices that we have about him in our sources, have yet not been brought to light. Even a recent historian of the Bharatpur Jats,1 by referring to Muhkam Singh's meeting with Aqibat


1. Pande, Bharatpur, 34. The above incident is based on Tarikh-i-Ahmad Shahi, 94b, which Dr. Pande claims to have utilized. It is, however, surprising how its folios, 98b, 102b-103a, 103b, l06b, 107a, 131 b, giving additional information on the point. escaped the attention of Dr. Pande.

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Mahmud Khan (lOth December, 1753) to regain his Raj, merely repeats what William Irvine2 only causally made known to us about half a century ago.

Muhkam Singh's subsequent movements make it clear that the recapture of his patrimony remained his most captivating dream, almost till his death. To realize it, he entered into collusion with one or the other personage, to the obvious anxiety of Badan Singh and Suraj Mal. This must have influenced the latters' policy towards the personages concerned and vice versa. Incidentally, Wendel informs us that Suraj Mal did not like anybody giving any help to Muhkam to survive or even showing charity to him.3

A Marathi newsletter of 1725 alludes to one Muhkam Singh,4 who was offered the governorship of Malwa. In absence of any clarification it is not possible for us to say definite if the person meant herein was the ex-Jat Raja or his namesake, Raja Muhkam Singh Khatri. Maasir-ul-Umra suggests that the dispossessed Jat chief, through the instrumentality of Muzaffar Khan, went to the Court and made unsuccessful efforts to seek its support (obviously sometime before the Khan's death in 1739).5 We have a definite and contemporary evidence to show that in 1735 Muhkam Singh was still roaming hopelessly in search of allies to achieve his end.6 Impliedly, it may prove that the Jodhpur Raja had turned a cold shoulder to him.7

The next reference ostensibly concerning him occurs in a yet another Marathi letter of 1750. It includes "Chura's son (Muhkam Singh)" among those killed in Safdar Jang's first Bangash war.8 But the fact that it makes the Nawab Wazir, Safdar Jang, also perish therein, reflects the general unreliability of its contents, and thereby renders this vague reference useless for our purpose.

By far the most authentic as also significant information about Muhkam Singh's movements in 1753-54 is supplied to us by the Court historian of the reign of Ahmad Shah. The clever Jat perceived a golden


2. Irvine. Later Mughals, II, 124.

3. Memoires des Jats (Fr. Ms.) I, footnote.

4. Quoted by Dr. Raghubir Smgh, Malwa, 172, footnote. Dr. Singh does not rule out the possibility of the man in question being the son of Churaman. Sukhvir Singh Gahlot (Rajasthan Ke Itihas Ka Tithikram, Jodhpur: 1967, 58) asserts, without any authority, that in 1732 the Jat was appointed subahdar of the province of Agra.

5. MU., I, 440. The subsequent portion of its version is ambiguous, wherein Muhkam Singh is apparently mistaken for Badan Singh.

6. S.P.D., XXX, 134.

7. Contra see Pande, Bharatpur, 34.

8. S.P.D., II, 23.

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opportunity to realize his dream in Suraj Mal's mounting difficulties, consequent upon his defeat in the civil-war (1753) and resumption of Imad-Maratha offensive against him. On 11th December, 1753, (14th Safar), it was reported that Muhkam Singh met Aqibat Mahmud, the political adviser of Imad-ul-Mulk and requested for the restoration of his paternal zamindari.9 On 24th December, (27th Safar), Muhkam Singh went to Imad's residence from his camp at Khizrabad. 10 Thereafter, he stayed on with the Mir Bakshi. He even offered to pay rupees two crores as Peshkash, if the zamindari were made over to him. Meanwhile, the regular payment of dues to the riotous soldiery had become a wrecking problem for the impoverished Mughal government. As a means to solve it, as also to wreck his vengeance upon Suraj Mal, Imad-ul-Mulk suggested to the Emperor to bestow Chura's zamindari upon his successor, Muhkam Singh (implying thereby that Suraj Mal should be dispossessed, who was prepared to pay rupees two crores). Ahmad Shah, however, demanded rupees five crores, in cash, apart from jinsa. In addition, Muhkam Singh was called upon to furnish an assurance that he would not raise collections from the khalisa, and would deposit in the royal exchequer "the revenue of his country, seven annas per rupee by way of 'nalbandi'.11 Whether or not Muhkam accepted all these conditions, we cannot say. We, however, do find the Emperor ordering Imad-ul-Mulk to accomplish Muhkam's work,12 and entertaining the hopes of getting rupees two crores.13 Even though, in reality the attainment of this object was a far cry, the new deal seems to have aroused new hopes for the hitherto unsuccessful and despondent Muhkam. He energetically served Imad in his operations against his own brethren around Ballamgarh andPalwal. On 8th January, 1754 (13th Rabi'I,1168 A.H.) Imad despatched him to Khandoji at Hodal.14 He assisted Aqibat Mahmud in repressing the Jats of Mewat.15 We learn from Fransoo that having earlier entered the service of Malharrao Holkar, Muhkam had also won the favour of that leader.16 As already related above, to assuage the feelings of the Jat Malharrao ploughed the site (former) of Thun with elephants and sowed pearls there in place of grains, during the Imad-Maratha invasion of Bharatpur


9. TAH,94b.

10. Ibid., 98b.

II. Ibid., 102b-103a.

12. TAH., 103b.

13. cf. TAH., 131b.

14 Ibid., 106b.

15. Ibid., 107a.

16. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 19b; Also see SPD., XXVII, 83.

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(1754). However, Imad's (impliedly also of Holkar's) plan of reinstalling their protege on the gaddi on Bharatpur, failed owing to their failure against Suraj Mal.

At last, getting despaired from all sides, the helpless Muhkam Singh stood a suppliant at the gate of his rival, Suraj Mal. Despite his persistent treacherous conduct, Suraj Mal displayed all courtesy and hospitality towards the moral enemy, now seeking his asylum. The Jat Raja fixed one rupee per village in all his talukas as the 'nazarana' of Muhkam Singh, though, as Fransoo adds, the former forbade him the privilege of riding on horses, elephants and palkies. Instead, he could use charpal for the purpose. Thus, Muhkam accompanied by his followers, at the head of asses went to the villages, seated on a cot to realize his fixed money. After a long time had elapsed, Muhkam Singh during the reign of Rana Ranjit Singh called upon that Raja at phulbari (at Bharatpur) in Samvat 1840 (1783-1784 A.D.). Considering Muhkam's old age as also his own relationship with him, Ranjit Singh offered him an amount of money. After some time, Muhkam Singh went to Ajmer and died before Jiwa Ram Jat (the resident of Banjari)xxv, the Mukhtar of Raja Suraj Mal.17


xxv. The correct name is Banchari which is situated beside Delhi-Agra highway. See U.N. Sharma, Maharaja Jawahar Singh Aur Uttradhikari, p. I, 2.-Editor.

17. Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 19b-20a, 26a.


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