Though Aurangzib’s256 main object was the pursuit of Dara, he did not fail to attend to the motions of Soliman, who was marching to his father’s aid at the time of the fatal battle. He was a young man of twenty-five and was assisted in his command by Raja Jei Sing, and accompanied by another general named Dilir Khan. Jei Sing, like the other Rajput princes, had adhered to Dara, as well on account of his lawful claims as of his liberal principles in religion; but though he had acted with decision against Shuja, the case was different with Aurangzib. His inclinations probably favoured that prince, with whom he had served in Balkh, and his interest counselled him against opposition to the actual possessor
of the throne. He determined to abandon Soliman; Dilir Khan took the same resolution; and their defection was aggravated rather than palliated by the paltry pretexts they employed to excuse it. Soliman, thus deprived of the strength of his army, formed a design of avoiding Aurangzib by keeping close to the mountains, and thus making his way to join his father at Lahor. Aurangzib frustrated his project by sending a detachment to Hardwar to intercept him; and this disappointment occasioned the desertion of most of his remaining troops. He next sought refuge in Sirinagar; but the raja refused him an asylum unless he would send away the 500 horse that still adhered to him.
After a vain attempt to return to the fort of Allahabad, in which his small band was reduced to 200, he agreed to the raja of Sirinagar’s terms, entered his fort with five or six attendants, and, though treated with civility, soon found that he was, in reality, in a sort of confinement.
Aurangzib did not wait till the conclusion of these operations. After settling his affairs at Delhi, he continued his march against Dara. That unfortunate prince, at the commencement of his flight, had halted for a few days at Delhi, where he obtained some treasure, and collected some thousand troops: he then marched rapidly to Lahor, and, finding a large sum of money in the royal treasury, began to raise an army. Before he had made much progress he heard of the advance of Aurangzib, and soon after, of the near approach of
a light detachment sent on in pursuit of him. Shah Jehan had written to Mohabat Khan (son of the great general), who was viceroy of Cabul; and it is probable that Dara had been expecting encouragement from him.
Besides the troops of the province, Cabul would have afforded a ready refuge, in case of need, among the Afghan tribes, and an easy exit to the territories of the Uzbeks or the Persians; but these views, if entertained, were disconcerted by the prompt measures of Aurangzib; and Dara, unable to resist the force that threatened him, left La& with 3000 or 4000 horse, and took the road of Multan on his way to Sind.
On this, Aurangzib, who had already crossed the Satlaj, altered his course for Multan. Before he reached that city, he heard that Dara had proceeded on his flight, and at the same time received intelligence of the advance of his brother Shuja from Bengal. He therefore gave up his march to the westward, and returned without delay to Delhi.
Meanwhile, Shuja had advanced to Benares with 25,000 horse and a numerous train of artillery; and Aurangzib, after some stay at Delhi, set out to arrest his progress. They met at Cajwa, half way between Allahabad and Etaya. Shuja was advantageously posted; and, though both drew up their armies, neither was anxious to begin the attack. On the third or fourth day, Aurangzib was forming his line before daybreak, according to his usual practice, when he was surprised by a prodigious uproar that suddenly arose in his rear. This was
occasioned by Raja Jeswant Sing, who, though now serving in his camp, had treacherously attacked his baggage.
The raja had submitted when Dara’s case became hopeless: he had not been received with the confidence or distinction he expected, and had entered on a correspondence with Shuja, promising to fall upon the baggage at a particular hour, when the prince’s army was also to attack in front. Had the co-operation been complete, it must have been entirely successful; for, although Shuja was not at his post in time, it had nearly occasioned the dispersion of his rival’s army. The tumult created by the unexpected onset, combined with the darkness and their ignorance of the cause, spread the greatest confusion among the troops who were forming; some left the field, others flew to protect their baggage, and a few went over to the enemy. In the midst of this perturbation, Aurangzib dismounted and seated himself on a portable throne, from which he issued his directions with a serene and cheerful countenance, sent a party to repel the attack, and took measures for checking the disorder which had already spread so far. In the mean time, Jeswant found that he was not supported; and, expecting to have the whole army turned upon him, was glad to recall his troops from plunder, and to retire to a place out of reach, where he could await in safety the event of the approaching contest.
By this time the sun had risen, and Shuja was
seen advancing to the attack. The battle began by a cannonade, soon followed by a close action: Aurangzib’s right was forced back, and his centre, where he was himself, was hard pressed. He was often in imminent danger; and his elephant was charged by another of greater strength, and would have been borne to the ground if the opposite driver had not been shot by one of the king’s guards.
But he still continued to press upon the enemy’s centre, until they at length gave way and fled from the field, leaving 114 pieces of cannon and many elephants to the victor.
Aurangzib sent his son, Prince Mohammed Sultan, in pursuit of Shuja from the field of battle, and some days after dispatched a regular army to support the prince, under the command of Mir Jumla, who, having been released from his mock imprisonment, had joined the army a day or two before the engagement, and acted as second in command on that occasion. Having made these dispositions, he returned to Agra.
That city, the most vulnerable point of his possessions, had just been exposed to considerable alarm and danger. Jeswant Sing, as soon as he perceived the victory to incline to his enemies, commenced his retreat towards his own country, and unexpectedly presented himself at Agra before the result of the battle was accurately known. He had it in his power to have made an effort for delivering and restoring Shah Jehan; and it is probable the popular feeling was already strongly inclined
in that direction; for Shaista Khan, who was governor, had given himself up to despair, and was on the point of swallowing poison257. He was relieved by the departure of Jeswant; who, considering how much he might lose by pushing things to extremities, pursued his march, and was soon safe among the hills and sands of Jodpur.
Aurangzib, on reaching Agra, dispatched a force of 10,000 men in pursuit of him; and about the same time he received a report from Prince Sultan that the fort of Allahabad had been given up by Shuja’s governor, and that Shuja himself had retired to Bengal.
These successes were more than counterbalanced by the intelligence he received of the proceedings of Dara Sheko. By the last accounts, that prince had deposited his baggage at Bakkar on the Indus; and, being forced by the desertion of his men and the death of his carriage cattle to relinquish his design on Sind, he had no means of escaping the detachment in pursuit of him, but by endeavouring to cross the desert to Cach. It now appeared that he had made little stay in that district, that he had entered Guzerat, and had been joined by the governor, Shah Nawaz Khan (one of whose daughters was married to Morad, and another to Aurangzib himself), and by his powerful assistance had occupied the whole province, including Surat and Baroch. He had opened a negotiation with the kings
of the Deckan; but had turned his immediate attention to a march to Hindostan, and a junction with Jeswant Sing. Amidst the surprise occasioned by this rapid change of circumstances, Aurangzib did not fail to perceive the increased importance of the Rajput prince, whose territories extended from Guzerat to Ajmir; and as he never allowed his passions to interfere with his interests, he forgot the perfidy and outrage with which he had just been treated, and set all his usual arts to work to win over his rebellious dependent. He wrote a complimentary letter with his own hand, conceding the rank and titles, his previous refusal of which was the ground of Jeswant’s discontent; and at the same time he called in the aid of Jei Sing, to convince his brother raja of the confidence that might be placed in the king’s good will, and of the ruin that awaited all who joined the hopeless cause of his rival.
These arguments and concessions had their weight with Jeswant; and although Dara had marched from Ahmedabad, and was arrived within fifty miles of Jodpur, he sent to apprise him that he felt himself unable to contend alone with the power of Aurangzib, and could not undertake to join him unless some other of the great Rajput princes could be prevailed on to embark in the same cause. After repeated attempts to bring back Jeswant to his former views and promises, Dara was obliged to renounce all hopes of his assistance, and to move with his own forces into the adjoining province of Ajmir. He had
assembled an army of 20,000 men in little more than a month after his arrival in Guzerat, and had left that province with a considerable increase of numbers, and with the addition of thirty or forty guns. With this force he took up and fortified a commanding position on the hills near Ajmir.
Aurangzib, who marched from Agra as soon as he heard of the proceedings in Guzerat, was now at Jeipur, and soon arrived in front of Dara’s position. After cannonading for three days with loss to his own army, he ordered a general assault. It was obstinately resisted for many hours, till the death of Shah Nawaz, who fell just as a party of Aurangzib’s troops had mounted the rampart, so disheartened Dara, that he fled with precipitation, and his troops dispersed in all directions. Even the body of horse that adhered to his person gradually straggled and fell off, and some even plundered the treasure which he was endeavouring to save from the wreck of his resources.
He reached the neighbourhood of Ahmedabad after eight days and nights of almost incessant marching, rendered nearly intolerable by the heat and dust of a scorching season. To this were latterly added the merciless attacks of the Colis in the hills, who hung upon his devoted band, and stripped or massacred every man who fell into the rear.
It was in the midst of these calamities that Dara was met by the celebrated traveller Bernier, who was on his way to Delhi unconscious of what had just been passing. As Dara’s wife was
wounded, and he had no physician, he obliged Bernier to turn back with him, and they remained together for three days. On the fourth they were within a march of Ahmedabad, where they counted on a secure refuge and on some repose after all their sufferings. They slept that night in a caravanserai, which afforded them protection from the attacks of the Colis, but was so confined that Bernier was only separated by a canvass screen from the princesses of Dara’s family.
About daybreak, when they were preparing for what they thought the last of their distressing marches, news was brought to Dara, that the gates of Ahmedabad were shut against him, and that if he had any regard for his own safety, he would instantly remove from the neighbourhood. These tidings were first made known to Bernier by the cries and lamentations of the women, and soon after Dara came forth half dead with consternation. The bystanders received him with a blank silence, and Bernier could not refrain from tears when he saw him addressing himself to each of them, down to the meanest soldier, conscious that he was deserted by all the world, and distracted with the thoughts of what would become of himself and his family.
Bernier saw him depart with the most melancholy forebodings. He was accompanied by four or five horsemen and two elephants; with these he made his way to Cach, and was there joined by about fifty horse and two hundred matchlockmen, who had accompanied one of his faithful adherents from
Guzerat. The chief of Cach, who had been hearty in his cause when he first entered Guzerat, now received him coldly. He pursued his march towards Candahar, and reached the small territory of Jun, or Juin, on the eastern frontier of Sind. The chief of the place, who seems to have been an Afghan, was under great obligations to Dara, and received him with every demonstration of attachment, while his only thought was how to betray him to his enemies. Dara’s wife (the daughter of his uncle, Parviz) died at this place of her fatigues and sufferings; and the prince, with a disregard of circumstances that looks like infatuation, sent a portion of his small escort, with two of his most confidential servants, to attend her remains to Lahor. When the period of mourning permitted he set out on prosecution of his journey to the Indus.
The chief of Jun accompanied him for one march, and then returned on some pretext, leaving his brother and a body of troops, as if to attend the prince to the frontier. No sooner was he gone than his brother fell suddenly on Dara, made him and his son Sepehr Sheko prisoners, and sent to all the king’s officers to announce his capture.
The news reached Aurangzib while he was celebrating the first anniversary of his accession. It began 1659, June 6.; AH 1069, Ramzan 24.
He concealed the intelligence until it was confirmed beyond doubt, when he ordered public rejoicings, and directed the feast of the accession to be prolonged.
It had scarcely expired, when his prisoners arrived at the capital. Dara, by special
orders, was brought in loaded with chains, on a sorry elephant, without housings, and was thus conducted up the most populous streets of the city.
The sight awakened a general feeling of compassion and indignation; and Bernier thought an insurrection so probable, that he went into the street armed and prepared for any exigency that might arise; but the sympathy of the people was only shown in tears and groans. Dara was exposed through all the principal places, and then led off to a prison in old Delhi. The inhabitants were less patient on the next day, when the chief of Jim was recognised on his way to court. A mob immediately assembled, who first assailed him with reproaches and curses; and, growing warmer as their numbers increased, began to throw mud; then tiles and stones; and, at last got to such a pitch of fury, that several lives were lost, and the chief himself would have been torn to pieces if he had not been rescued by the police.
Next day the leader of the riot was put to death A few days after this tumult, a mock consultation was held with some of the king’s counsellors and some learned lawyers, at which Dara was pronounced worthy of death, as an apostate from the Mahometan religion. Aurangzib, with seeming reluctance, gave his orders conformably to this opinion, and a personal enemy was selected to carry the sentence into effect. Dara was, with his son, preparing some lentils, the only food they would touch, for fear of poison, when he saw the
executioners, and at once guessed his fate: he snatched up a small knife which he had just been using, and defended himself manfully, until oppressed by numbers. His body was exhibited to the populace on an elephant; his head was cut off and carried to Aurangzib, who ordered it to be placed on a platter, and to be wiped and washed in his presence. When he had satisfied himself that it was the real head of Dara, he began to weep, and, with many expressions of sorrow, directed it to be interred in the tomb of Humayun. Sepehr Sheko was sent away, in confinement, to Gwalior258.
During these transactions, Prince Sultan and Mir Jumla were carrying on their operations against Shuja. That prince, on retiring towards Bengal, had taken up a position at Monger, and had thrown up a strong intrenchment between the hills and
the Ganges; but Mir Jumla turned his left flank by a march through the hills, and compelled him to fall back on Raj Mahal, where, during his long government of Bengal, he had established a sort of capital. The rainy season now set in, which, in that country, puts an end to every sort of movement by land, and Mir Jumla cantoned at some distance from Raj Mahal. An important event to both parties had taken place before this pause.
Prince Sultan had long been discontented with playing the part of a pageant under the authority of Mir Jumla; and his impatience became so ungovernable, that, although he was the eldest son and recognised heir of Aurangzib, he entered into a correspondence with Shuja, and finally deserted to his camp. Shuja received him with honour, and gave him his daughter in marriage; but, either from disappointed expectations or natural levity of temper, Sultan became as much dissatisfied in his new situation as he had been before;
and after taking an active part in the hostilities which recommenced after the rainy season, he again deserted his party, and returned to Mir Jumla’s camp.
Aurangzib, who had at one time determined on a journey to Bengal, had given it up before this news reached him. He showed himself little affected by his son’s behaviour: he ordered him to be committed to prison, and kept him in confinement for many years.
From this time Shuja’s affairs went progressively
After a series of unsuccessful struggles, he was compelled to retreat to Dacca; and, Mir Jumla continuing to press him with vigour, he quitted his army, fled with a few attendants, and took refuge with the raja of Aracan. His subsequent story is uncertain. It would appear that the raja took some unfair steps to prevent his leaving Aracan, and that Shuja entered into a plot with the Mussulmans of the country to overturn the raja’s government: this much is certain, that Shuja and all his family were cut off, and, though there were many rumours regarding them, were never heard of more.
His ignorance of Shuja’s fate left Aurangzib in some uneasiness for a time; but that, and all his other grounds of anxiety, were removed before the end of the next year. He had attempted, by means of threats, and afterwards by force, to compel the raja of Sirinagar to give up Soliman Sheko. The raja (whether from avarice, or policy, or sense of honour) withstood all his demands, until he had recourse to Jei Sing, his zealous agent in all negotiations with Hindus.
By that chief’s persuasion, the raja was, at length, induced to make over Soliman to the imperial officers, and by them he was conveyed to Delhi259.
He was paraded through the city on an elephant, and then brought before the emperor. The chains were taken off his legs, but his hands were still
secured in gilded fetters. His appearance affected many of the courtiers to tears. Even Aurangzib put on an appearance of compassion; and when he entreated that, rather than have his strength and reason undermined by drugs (as was thought to be often the fate of captive princes), he might be put to death at once, the emperor addressed him in the mildest accents, and assured him of safety and good treatment260. It was not believed that he kept his word, for Soliman, his brother Sepehr Sheko, and the young son of Morad, all died in Gwalior within a short space261; while the emperor’s own son, Sultan, who was confined in the same fort, lived several years, and was partially restored to freedom.
The atrocious murder of Morad, which took place a few months after Soliman’s imprisonment, justifies the worst suspicions. That unfortunate prince had endeavoured to escape by means of a rope let down from the battlements; but the wailing of a Hindu concubine, of whom he was taking leave, drew the attention of the guard, and led to the discovery of his design. Aurangzib felt that his own security was incomplete while his brother lived; and, as he had not even the shadow of an offence to allege against him, he instigated the son of a man who had been arbitrarily put to death by the prince while viceroy of Guzerat to complain of him as a murderer; when, after the ceremony of a
trial, and a legal sentence, the unhappy Morad was executed in his prison262.
Some time before this period Aurangzib sent a force against the raja of Bikanir, who had deserted him in the Deckan, and still held out against him. He was reduced to submission by this expedition.
When the quiet of Bengal had been restored by the successes of Mir Jumla, it seems to have been an object with Aurangzib to find employment for that powerful minister. To that end he engaged him in the conquest of Assam, a rich country lying along the river Baramputer, and shut in on both sides by woody mountains. Mir Jumla marched from Dacca, up the river, conquered the petty principality of Cuch Behar, overran the plain of Assam, and took possession of Ghergong, the capital.
He announced his success with great exultation to the emperor, and boasted of his intention of pursuing his conquests, and opening the way to China. Soon after this the rainy season set in; the whole plain was flooded; the cavalry could not march nor even forage; the natives assembled on all sides, cut off supplies and stragglers, and distressed the camp; and as the rains subsided, a pestilential disorder broke out among the troops; so that when the season opened, Mir Jumla, although he had received reinforcements, was obliged to. renounce his magnificent projects, and even required the exertion of his known talents to obtain
such contributions and cessions from the raja as might save his honour from the appearance of a defeat.
When he had accomplished this object he withdrew his army; but died before he reached Dacca, worn out with the fatigues and sufferings which, though at a very advanced age, he had encountered equally with the humblest soldier263. The emperor immediately raised his son Mohammed Amin to the high rank and honours which had been possessed by the deceased.
The death of this powerful subject seemed to relieve Aurangzib from every ground for jealousy or apprehension; but he had recently received a severe warning of the precarious terms on which he still held his life and empire. Soon after the fifth anniversary of his accession he was seized with a violent illness, which at first threatened his immediate death, and afterwards left him in a state of extreme bodily weakness, and almost entirely deprived of the use of speech. This unexpected calamity shook his newly established government to its foundations.
Reports were current that Raja Jeswant was in full march to release Shah Jehan, and that Mohabat Khan was coming from Cabul with the same intention. The partisans of the deposed monarch began to intrigue at the capital; while two parties were formed among the emperor’s own adherents; one anxious to secure the succession to his second son, Moazzim; and the other, to
raise his third son, Akber, to the throne.
These dangers were averted by the constancy and force of mind of Aurangzib himself. On the fifth day of his illness, though scarcely rescued from the jaws of death, he caused himself to be raised up, and received the homage of his principal courtiers; and on a subsequent day, when his having a fainting fit had led to a general report that he was dead, he summoned two or three of the greatest nobles to his bed side; and although not yet recovered from the paralysis which had affected his tongue, he wrote an order, in their presence, to his sister Roushanara to send his great seal, which had been entrusted to her, and placed it near himself, that no use might be made of it without his special orders. The respect and admiration inspired by his conduct on these occasions had as much effect in suppressing disturbances as the prospect they afforded of his recovery264.
As soon as he was able to travel he set off for Cashmir, where he hoped to regain his strength sooner than at any place in the plains265.
While Aurangzib was seeking repose in the north, a scene was opening in the Deckan with which his thoughts were soon to be fully employed.
The Maratta race, it will be remembered, inhabits the country lying between the range of mountains which stretches along the south of the
Nerbadda, parallel to the Vindya chain; and a line drawn from Goa, on the sea coast, through Bidr to Chanda, on the Warda. That river is its boundary on the east, as the sea is on the west.
The great feature of the country is the range of Siadri, more commonly called the Ghats, which runs along the western part of it, thirty or forty miles from the sea; and, though only from 3000 to 5000 feet high, is made very remarkable by its own peculiarities, and by the difference between the tracts which it divides. On the west it rises abruptly nearly from the level of the sea, and, on that side, presents an almost inaccessible barrier; but, on the east, it supports a table land 1500 or 2000 feet high, extending eastward with a gradual slope, far beyond the Maratta limits, to the Bay of Bengal.
The strip of land between the Ghats and the sea is called the Concan, and is, in general, very rugged. Towards the coast are small rich plains producing rice; the rest is almost impervious from rocks and forests, cut by numerous torrents, which change, when near the sea, into muddy creeks, among thickets of mangrove266, The summits of the ridge itself are bare rocks; its sides are thickly covered with tall trees mixed with underwood. The forest spreads over the contiguous part of the table land to the east, a tract broken by deep
winding valleys and ravines, forming fit haunts for the wild beasts with which the range is peopled. Fifteen or twenty miles from the ridge, the valleys become wide and fertile, and, by degrees, are lost in open plains, which stretch away to the eastward, covered with cultivation, but bare of trees, and rarely crossed by ranges of moderate hills. The great chain of the Ghats receives the whole fury of the south-west monsoon, the force of which is thus broken before it reaches the plains. For several months the high points are wrapped in clouds, and beaten by rains and tempests. The moisture soon runs off from the upper tracts, but renders the Concan damp and insalubrious throughout the year.
The greatest of the inferior branches of hills which run east from the Ghats, is that called the range of Chandor, from one of the forts constructed on its summits. It separates the low basin of the Tapti from that of the Godaveri, on the table land. The basin of the Tapti is composed of Candesh and Berar, fertile plains, only separated from Guzerat by the forest tract of Baglana, and differing, in many respects, from the high country, which is more peculiarly that of the Marattas.
The whole of the Ghats and neighbouring mountains often terminate towards the top in a wall of smooth rock, the highest points of which, as well as detached portions on insulated hills, form natural fortresses, where the only labour required is to get access to the level space, which generally lies on
the summit. Various princes, at different times, have profited by these positions. They have cut flights of steps or winding roads up the rocks, fortified the entrance with a succession of gateways, and erected towers to command the approaches; and thus studded the whole of the region about the Ghats and their branches with forts, which, but for frequent experience, would be deemed impregnable.
Though the Marattas had never appeared in history as a nation, they had as strongly marked a character as if they had always formed a united commonwealth. Though more like to the lower orders in Hindostan than to their southern neighbours in Canara and Telingana, they could never, for a moment, he confounded with either.
They are small sturdy men, well made, though not handsome. They are all active, laborious, hardy, and persevering. If they have none of the pride and dignity of the Rajputs, they have none of their indolence or their want of worldly wisdom. A Rajput warrior, as long as he does not dishonour his race, seems almost indifferent to the result of any contest he is engaged in. A Maratta thinks of nothing but the result, and cares little for the means, if he can attain his object. For this purpose he will strain his wits, renounce his pleasures, and hazard his person; but he has not a conception of sacrificing his life, or even his interest, for a point of honour. This difference of sentiment affects the outward appearance of the two
nations: there is something noble in the carriage even of an ordinary Rajput; and something vulgar in that of the most distinguished Maratta.
The Rajput is the most worthy antagonist; the Maratta the most formidable enemy;. for he will not fail in boldness and enterprise when they are indispensable, and will always support them, or supply their place by stratagem, activity, and perseverance. All this applies chiefly to the soldiery, to whom more bad qualities might fairly be ascribed. The mere husbandmen are sober, frugal, and industrious; and, though they have a dash of the national cunning, are neither turbulent nor insincere.
Their chiefs, in those days, were men of families who had for generations filled the old Hindu offices of heads of villages or functionaries of districts267, and had often been employed as partisans under the governments of Ahmednagar and Bijapur. They were all Sudras, of the same cast with their people; though some tried to raise their consequence by claiming an infusion of Rajput blood.
The early Mahometan writers do not seem to have been aware of the existence of the Marattas. We can perceive, by the surnames of some chiefs whom they mention, that they must have belonged to that race; but the word Maratta first occurs in Ferishta, in the transactions of the year 1485; and is not then applied in a general sense. It has
been mentioned that, in the middle of the sixteenth century, the king of Bijapur adopted the Maratta language, instead of Persian, for his financial papers; and, as he was substituting natives of the Deckan for foreigners in his armies, he enlisted a considerable number of Marattas among them. They were at first chiefly employed in the lowest military capacity, that of garrisoning forts: by degrees their aptitude for service as light cavalry was discovered, and they began to obtain military rank under the governments of Bijapur and Ahmednagar: while individuals were also engaged in the service of the Kutb Shah, king of Golconda. Still they are very little mentioned by the Mussulman writers, until the beginning of the seventeenth century. In the time of Malik Amber they emerge into notice, and thenceforward occupy a conspicuous part in the history of the Deckan268.
Among the officers of Malik Amber was a person named Maloji, of a respectable, though not a considerable, family, the surname of which was Bosla. He served with a few men mounted on his own horses, and was especially dependent on the protection of Jadu Rao.
If any Maratta had a claim to Rajput descent, it was the family of Jadu. The name is that of one of the Rajput tribes: it was borne at the first Mahometan invasion by the raja of Deogiri, the greatest prince in the Deckan; and it is not improbable
that the protector of Maloji (who was desmukh of a district not far from Deogiri, may have been descended from that stock. Whatever was his origin, Lukji Jadu Rao had attained to a command of 10,000 men, under Malik Amber, and was a person of such consequence, that his desertion to Shah Jehan turned the fate of a war against his former master.
It was long before this defection that Maloji Bosla attended a great Hindu festival at the house of Jadu, accompanied by his son, Shahji, a boy of five years old. During the merriment natural to such an occasion Jadu Rao took young Shahji and his own daughter, a girl of three years old, on his knees, and said, laughing, “that they were a fine couple, and ought to be man and wife.” To his surprise, Maloji instantly started up, and called on the company to witness that the daughter of Jadu was affianced to his son. It did not require the pride of birth to raise Jadu’s indignation at the advantage taken of him; and the consequence was, a rupture between him and his dependant. But Maloji was by this time on the road to fortune: he acquired a considerable sum of money, increased his party, and, being an active partisan, rose at last to a command of 5000 horse in the service of Ahmednagar, and to the possession of a large jagir, of which the chief place was Puna. He had still kept up his son’s claim to the daughter of Jadu Rao, which, in his present prosperity, was no longer looked on as so unreasonable; and Jadu Rao at last consenting,
his daughter was regularly married to Shahji. One of the fruits of this union was Sevaji, the founder of the Maratta empire269.
Shahji has already been mentioned as a great actor in the last events of the kingdom of Ahmednagar270. He then entered the service of Bijapur, and was continued in his jagir, which had fallen to that state in the partition of the Ahmednagar territory. He was afterwards employed on conquests to the southward, and obtained a much more considerable jagir in the Mysore country, including the towns of Sira and Bangalor.
As all Maratta chiefs were wholly illiterate, their affairs were managed by Bramins, who formed a numerous class of men of business, even under the Mahometans. A person of that cast, therefore, whose name was Dadaji Condu, was left in charge of the jagir at Puna, and to him was committed the care of the chief’s second son, Sevaji; the elder accompanying his father to the Mysore. The education of a young Maratta consisted in horsemanship, hunting, and military exercises; and, as Puna is situated at the junction of the hilly country with the plains, Sevaji’s principal associates were the soldiery belonging to his father’s horse, or the plundering highlanders of the neighbouring Ghats. From such companions he imbibed an early love of adventure, which was increased by his fondness for listening to the ballads of his country. By the
time he was sixteen he began to be beyond the control of Dadaji, by whom he had been admitted to a share in the management of the jagir; and though he was generally popular for his conciliating manners, he was already suspected of sharing in several extensive gang robberies committed in the Concan. Those practices and his hunting excursions made him familiar with every path and defile throughout the Ghats; and he was, before, well acquainted with their wild inhabitants. Those in the parts of the range north of Puna were Bhils and Colis271, and those to the south, Ramusis; but immediately to the west of Puna were Marattas, who had long braved the dangers and hardships of that uncultivated region, and who were called Mawalis, from the appellation of the valleys where they resided.
It was from among these last that Sevaji chose his earliest adherents; and, as he was remarkably quick and observing, he soon perceived a way of employing them on higher objects than he had yet been engaged with.
The hill forts belonging to Bijapur were generally much neglected; being remote and unhealthy, they were sometimes occupied by a single Mahometan officer, with a small garrison of ill-paid local troops; at other times they were left in charge of the nearest desmukh, or other revenue officer. Among those in the last predicament was Torna, a strong fort, twenty miles south west of Puna.
Of this place Sevaji contrived to get possession272, and succeeded, by a proper application of arguments and money, in convincing the court of Bijapur that it was better in his hands than in those of the desmukh. But on his afterwards fortifying a neighbouring hill, the attention of the government was seriously drawn to him, and remonstrances were addressed to Shahji on his son’s proceedings. Shahji made the best excuse he could, and wrote in strong terms to Dadaji and Sevaji to forbid their attempting any further encroachments. The Bramin used all his endeavours to persuade his young chief to attend to these injunctions; but he did not long survive the receipt of them, and Sevaji, when freed from his control, pursued his enterprises with more audacity than before.
He withheld the revenue of the jagir which was due to Shahji; and as there were two forts within it (Chakan and Supa), held by officers immediately under his father, he gained over the first and surprised the second; and being now master within his own jagir, he proceeded to more extensive undertakings.
He bribed the Mahometan governor to surrender Condana, or Singhar, a strong hill fort near Puna: and, by taking advantage of a dispute between two Bramin brothers, friends of his own, who were contesting the command of the still stronger hill fort of Purandar, he introduced a body of Mawalis into the place, and treacherously took possession of it for himself273.
As all these acquisitions were made without bloodshed, and without disturbing the neighbouring districts, they called forth no exertion on the part of the king of Bijapur, who was at this time occupied with conquests to the southward, and with the magnificent buildings which he was erecting at his capital274.
But the time was come when Sevaji’s own views required that he should throw off the mask275. The signal of open rebellion was the plunder of a convoy of royal treasure in the Concan; and before the court recovered its surprise at this outrage, it heard that five of the principal hill forts in the Ghats had fallen into the hands of Sevaji.
Almost immediately after this, a Bramin officer of his surprised and made prisoner the Mahometan governor of the northern Concan, and not only took possession of Calian, where he resided, but occupied the whole of his province, and compelled him to give orders for the surrender of all his forts. Sevaji was transported with this success. He received the governor with respect, and dismissed him with
His first care in his conquest was, to restore Hindu endowments, and revive old institutions. He had been brought up in a strong Hindu feeling, which, perhaps, was, at first, as much national as religious; and out of this sprung up a rooted hatred to the Mussulmans, and an increasing attachment to his own superstitions. This inclination fell so well in with his policy, that he began to affect peculiar piety, and to lay claim to prophetic dreams, and other manifestations of the favour of the gods.
The court of Bijapur, when at length awakened to Sevaji’s designs, was still misled by the belief that he was instigated by his father. They therefore dissembled their displeasure until they had an opportunity of making Shahji prisoner. His seizure was effected under pretence of a friendly entertainment by a chief of the family of Gorpara, on whom Sevaji afterwards most amply revenged his treachery276. Shahji’s assurances that he was innocent of his son’s transgressions received little credit from the court of Bijapur; and, after being allowed a reasonable time to put a stop to the insurrection, he was thrown into a dungeon, and told that the entrance would be built up after a certain period, unless Sevaji should make his submission in the interval. Sevaji was seriously alarmed by this threat; but reflection convinced him that submission was not the way to gain safety from so
treacherous an enemy. He held out as before, and made overtures to Shah Jehan, whose territories he had carefully abstained from injuring. The emperor received his application favourably, took him into his service, and appointed him to the rank of a commander of 5000. It was probably owing to his powerful interposition that Shahji was released from his dungeon, although he remained for four years, 1649 to 1653, a prisoner at large in Bijapur. Tranquillity prevailed during this interval,. Sevaji being restrained by fears for his father, and the government of Bijapur by the apprehension that Sevaji might call in the Moguls.
At the end of that time the disorders in Carnata rendered Shahji’s presence necessary to the interests of the government. His own jagir had been overrun, and his eldest son killed, while all the surrounding country was in arms, and threatened the speedy expulsion of the Bijapur authorities.
No sooner was his father released and the attention of the Bijapur government turned to the affairs of Carnata, than Sevaji began with fresh activity to renew his plans of aggrandizement. The whole of the hilly country south of Puna, from the Ghats inclusive to the upper Kishna, was in the hands of a Hindu raja, whom Sevaji could never prevail on to join in his rebellion. He now procured his assassination, and profited by the consternation which ensued to seize on his territory. After this atrocity he surprised some hill forts and built others,
and went on extending his authority until Prince Aurangzib was sent down to the Deckan in 1655. Sevaji at first addressed the prince as a servant of the Mogul government, and obtained a confirmation of his possessions from the imperial authority.
But when he found Aurangzib engaged in war with the king of Golconda, and fancied he saw the prospect of long troubles, he determined to profit by the confusion at the expense of all the combatants, and for the first time invaded the Mogul territories. He surprised the town of Juner, and carried off a large booty; and afterwards attempted the same operation at Ahmednagar, where he met with only partial success.
The rapid conquests of Aurangzib disappointed all his hopes; and, during the prince’s operations against Bijapur, he endeavoured, by every sort of excuse and promise, to obtain forgiveness for his rash attack. When the sickness of Shah Jehan called off Aurangzib to Delhi, Sevaji continued to profess his devotion, and offered his zealous services, provided attention were paid to some claims he pretended to possess within the Mogul territory. The prince readily granted him forgiveness on his engaging to send a body of horse to the army, but endeavoured to reserve the question of his claims for future inquiry; and Sevaji, who was as artful as himself, in like manner suspended the dispatch of his horse, and confined his services to promises and professions.
He now renewed his attacks on Bijapur (where the king had been succeeded by his son, a minor);
and the regency, at length aware of the danger of neglecting his advances to power, dispatched a large army against him. The commander was Afzal Khan, who to the usual arrogance of a Mahometan noble joined an especial contempt for his present enemy. But that enemy knew well how to turn his presumption to account: he affected to be awed by the reputation of Afzal Khan, and to give up all hopes of resisting his arms. He sent humble offers of submission to the khan, who deputed a Bramin high in his confidence to complete the negotiation. This man Sevaji won over, and by his assistance Afzal Khan was easily persuaded that Sevaji was in a state of great alarm, and was only prevented surrendering by his apprehension of the consequences. During these negotiations Afzal advanced through intricate and woody valleys to the neighbourhood of the hill fort of Partabghar, where Sevaji was residing, and the Maratta consented to receive his assurances of forgiveness at a personal interview, if the khan would concede so much to his fears as to come unattended for the purpose of meeting him. Afzal Khan on this quitted his army, and went forward with an escort, which he was afterwards persuaded to leave behind and advance with a single attendant. He was dressed in a thin muslin robe, and carried a straight sword, more for state than any expectation of being required to use it. During this time Sevaji was seen slowly descending from the fort: he advanced with a timid and hesitating air, accompanied by
one attendant, and to all appearance entirely unarmed; but under his cotton tunic he wore a shirt of chain armour, and besides a concealed dagger, he was armed with sharp hooks of steel, which are fastened on the fingers, but he concealed in the closed hand, and are known by the descriptive name of “tiger’s claws.”
The khan looked with contempt on the diminutive figure which came crouching on to perform the usual ceremonies of meeting; but at the moment of the embrace, Sevaji struck his claws into his unsuspecting adversary, and, before he could recover from his astonishment, dispatched him with his dagger.
He had, before this, drawn his troops from all quarters by secret paths into the woods round Afzal’s army; and, on a signal from the fort, they rushed at once on the Mussulmans, who were reposing in insolent security, and slaughtered and dispersed them almost without resistance277. As soon as the victory was secure, Sevaji issued orders to spare the fugitives: vast numbers fell into the hands of the conqueror, after wandering in the woods until subdued by hunger. They were all treated with humanity: many of them who were Marattas entered into Sevaji’s service, and a chief of that nation, who refused to forfeit his allegiance, was dismissed with presents. During his whole career, Sevaji, though he inflicted death and torture to force confessions of concealed treasure, was never personally guilty of any useless cruelty.
This victory gave a fresh impulse to Sevaji’s progress. He overran all the country near the Ghats, and took possession of all the hill forts, and was going on to complete the reduction of the Concan, when he was recalled by the march from Bijapur of an army much more formidable than the first. He threw part of his troops into forts, and employed the rest to cut off the enemy’s supplies278; but he allowed himself to be shut up in the almost inaccessible fort of Panala, and would have been compelled to surrender after a siege of four months, if he bad not contrived, with his usual mixture of boldness and dexterity, to quit the place during a dark night, after he had amused the besiegers with the prospect of a capitulation. His escape was ascribed at Bijapur to treachery in their general, Sidi Johar, an Abyssinian, whose indignation was excited by this calumny, and added to the elements of discord already abundant at Bijapur.
The king now took the field in person, and brought such a force along with him as Sevaji was unable to resist. His operations during the whole of this invasion were desultory and ill-directed; and before the end of a year he found himself stripped of almost all his conquests. The king of Bijapur’s affairs now obliged him to turn his attention to Carnata, where his presence was further required by the revolt of Sidi Johar.
He was employed in that country for two whole years, during
which Sevaji recovered and increased his territories.
At the end of that time a peace was mediated by Shahji; and Sevaji remained in possession of a territory including upwards of 250 miles of the country on the sea (being the part of the Concan between Goa and Calian), while above the Ghats its length was more than 150 miles from the north of Puna to the south of Mirich on the Kishna. Its breadth, from east to west, was, at the widest part, 100 miles. In this small territory the hardiness and predatory habits of his soldiers enabled him to maintain an army of 7000 horse and 50,000 foot279.
256. Aurangzib, on his accession, took the title of Alamgir, by which he is designated in Indian history and in all regular documents. Europeans, however, as well as some of his own countrymen, still call him Aurangzib (properly pronounced Ourangzib).
258. Almost all the account of Dara’s proceedings is taken from Khafi Khan. I have seldom used Bernier’s delightful narrative, except when he was an eye-witness; for, although he does not differ in the main from the native historian, he introduces many particulars not probable in themselves, and not alluded to by the other. It is true that he must have received his accounts from persons engaged in the transactions, and that almost immediately after they had occurred; but such fresh materials have their disadvantages as well as their advantages. Before the subjects have been discussed and examined, each man knows but a fragment of the whole, and to it he adapts the reports he hears from others: the beaten party have always some act of treachery, or some extraordinary accident, with which to excuse their defeat; and all men take a pleasure in discovering secret histories and latent motives, which are soon forgotten unless confirmed by further testimony.
259. Khafi Khan.
260. Bernier; who was present at the interview.
262. Khafi Khan. Bernier.
263. Khafi Khan. Bernier.
264. Bernier. Khafi Khan merely mentions a dangerous illness.
266. The native legends relate that the sea once washed the foot of the Ghats, and that the Concan was rescued from it by a miracle of one of the gods.
267. Patels, desmukhs, despandis, &e. &c. See Vol. I. pp. 120. and 485.
268. Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 73-96.
269. He was born in May, 1627 (Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 122.).
270. 1636. See p. 363.
271. Hill tribes. See Vol. I. p. 371.
272. Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 131.
273. Grant Duff.
274. “Thus did Sevaji obtain possession of the tract between Chacun and the Neera, and the manner in which he established himself, watching and crouching like the wily tiger of his own mountain valleys, until he had stolen into a situation from whence he could at once spring on his prey, accounts both for the difficulty found in tracing his early rise, and the astonishing rapidity with which he extended his power, when his progress had attracted notice, and longer concealment was impossible.” (Grant Duff; of whose clear and animated account of Sevaji that inserted in the text is a mere abstract.)
275. Grant Duff.
276. Grant Duff.
277. Grant Duff.
278. Grant Duff.
279. Grant Duff.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage