The continuance of this warfare did not prevent Aurangzib from turning all the resources he could command to the settlement of the Deckan, where many changes of moment had taken place while he was engaged in other quarters. When his forces were first drawn off for the war with the Afghans (1672), Khan Jehan, his general in the Deckan, found himself too weak to prosecute active hostilities against the Marattas; and would probably have been unable to defend his own province, if their leader had been disposed to attack it.
But while things were in this position, the king of Bijapur died, and the state of discord into which his country fell offered greater temptations to Sevaji than were presented by any attack on the Moguls. The part of Bijapur which most attracted him on this occasion, was that on the sea, with the adjoining Ghats; and in the course of the years 1673 and 1674 , after a succession of battles and sieges, he made himself master of the whole of the southern Concan (except the points held by the English, Abyssinians, and Portuguese), and of a tract above the Ghats, extending further to the east than the upper course of the Kishna.
Though Sevaji had long borne the privileges of sovereignty,
he conceived it suitable to the undertakings he had now in view to assume the exercise of them with greater solemnity than before. He was therefore again inaugurated at Raighar with all the ceremonies of a Mogul coronation, including his being weighed in gold and distributing rich presents to all around him. At the same time he changed the titles of his principal officers from Persian to Shanscrit; and while he thenceforth assumed all the pomp of a Mahometan prince, he redoubled his attention to the duties of his religion, and affected greater scrupulosity than ever in food and other things connected with cast301.
The long period for which Sevaji had been employed in his conquests encouraged the Moguls to make an incursion into his possessions soon after this ceremony; but they had reason to repent their temerity. Sevaji, without moving in person sent detachments into the Imperial territory, and these bands took two forts, plundered the country to the heart of Candesh and Berar, and even penetrated into Guzerat as far as Baroch, where for the first time they crossed the river Nerbadda.
These incursions took place in 1675; and as he hoped they might induce the Moguls to refrain from disturbing him again, they left Sevaji at liberty to execute a design that had long occupied
This was the recovery of his father’s jagir, and a further extension of his conquests in the south of India. The jagir had hitherto remained in the hands of his younger brother, Vencaji, who held it under the nominal supremacy of the government of Bijapur. Sevaji was therefore now at liberty either to claim it as heir, or to conquer it as an enemy; and his views were particularly directed to it from his having lately been joined by Ragunat Narain, the Bramin who had formerly managed it on the part of Shahji, and had afterwards been minister to Vencaji until a recent quarrel. This man was useful to Sevaji both from his knowledge and connections. But as he could not safely set out on so remote an expedition without leaving a friend in his rear, he took advantage of the jealousy of Bijapur and fears of the Moguls entertained by the king of Golconda, and proposed an alliance to him against their common enemies.
His overtures being encouraged, he marched for Golconda with an army of 30,000 horse and 40,000 infantry, He halted for some time at Golconda to make a definitive settlement of his alliance; when it was agreed that he was to share with the king whatever conquests he made beyond his father’s jagir, and that the king was to supply him with a sum of money and a train of artillery, reserving all his other forces to keep the armies of Bijapur and the Moguls in check.
Having thus secured his rear, Sevaji crossed the Kishna at Carnul, proceeded through
Cadapa, and passing close to Madras302, presented himself before Jinji (Gingee) 600 miles from his own territories.
Jinji was a strong and important hill fort belonging to Bijapur, but was given up in consequence of a previous understanding with the commander.
The heavy part of his army, which he had left behind, next laid siege to, and ultimately took, Vellor; while Sevaji had a personal interview with his brother, and endeavoured to persuade him to give him a share of their father’s possessions.
Having failed in this negotiation, he took Arni, and various other forts, and forcibly occupied the whole of Shahji’s jagir in the Mysore. While thus employed, he heard of the invasion of Golconda by the Moguls and the government of Bijapur; on which he marched off to the north, leaving his conquests in charge of his half-brother, Santaji, who had joined him on his first arrival. As soon as Sevaji was out of reach, Vencaji made an attempt to recover his possessions; and the dispute terminated in a compromise, by which Vencaji was to retain the jagir, but pay half the revenue to Sevaji who was to keep to himself the places which he had conquered from Bijapur. The king of Golconda had by this time come to a settlement with the Moguls; and Sevaji, after conquering the districts of Belari and Adoni on his way, passed on to Raighar, which the he reached after an absence of eighteen months, about the middle of 1678.
The invasion of Golconda was owing to a change in the policy of the Moguls. Khan Jehan had been removed, and succeeded by Dilir Khan, perhaps the best of Aurangzib’s officers. His force was still small; but a considerable portion of his troops were Patans, like himself, and he made up for all deficiencies by his own vigour and activity. The king of Bijapur was still a minor, and various revolutions had taken place among his ministers and guardians. Dilir formed a union with one of them, and made the above mentioned attack, on Golconda. The regent of Bijapur, who acted with him on that occasion, died soon after; and Dilir, by supporting the claims of an Abyssinian, named Masaud, to succeed him, acquired a perfect ascendancy in the councils of Bijapur. But Aurangzib, not satisfied with these advantages, sent down prince Moazzim, as viceroy, to advance further demands, which Dilir, as general, was to enforce.
In execution of this plan, Dilir renewed the war with Bijapur, and laid siege to the capital. The regent, in despair, had recourse to Sevaji, who, not finding himself strong enough to attack the besieging army, invaded and laid waste the Mogul territory with more than ordinary severity. He was nearly cut off on his retreat, or rather flight, from one of those inroads; but, almost immediately afterwards, appeared in greater strength than ever, and took several forts from the Moguls. But Dilir Khan still persevered in the siege, and the regent, reduced to extremity, entreated Sevaji
to come to his assistance before it was too late.
Sevaji had set off for this purpose, when he was surprised by the intelligence that his son, Sambaji, had deserted to the Moguls. This young man, who had none of his father’s qualities, except his courage, had given himself up to debauchery; and having attempted to violate the wife of a Bramin, was imprisoned, by Sevaji, in one of his hill forts. He now escaped from his place of confinement, and fled to Dilir, who received him with open arms, intending to make use of him among the Marattas as a counterpoise to his father.
The embarrassment this occasioned to Sevaji was only temporary, for Aurangzib, disapproving of Dilir’s views, ordered Sambaji to be sent prisoner to his own camp; and Dilir, whose honour was pledged for his safety, connived at his return to his father. Meanwhile, the defence of Bijapur had surpassed expectation.
Sevaji, as soon as he recovered from his first surprise, had renewed his exertions; and Dilir Khan, finding his supplies cut off, was obliged to raise the siege. The price of Sevaji’s alliance was a cession of the territory between the Tumbadra and Kishna, and of all the king’s rights over the jagir of Shahji. This last acquisition gave him the right, as his success did the power, of exercising a more effectual control over his brother; and Vencaji’s mortification at the change had led him to the thoughts of renouncing worldly affairs; when all Sevaji’s designs were cut short by an
illness which carried him off on the 5th of April, 1680, in the fifty-third year of his age.
Though the son of a powerful chief, he had begun life as a daring and artful captain of banditti, had ripened into a skilful general and an able statesman, and left a character which has never since been equalled or approached by any of his countrymen. The distracted state of the neighbouring countries presented openings by which an inferior leader might have profited; but it required a genius like his to avail himself as he did of the mistakes of Aurangzib, by kindling a zeal for religion, and, through that, a national spirit among the Marattas. It was by these feelings that his government was upheld after it passed into feeble hands, and was kept together, in spite of numerous internal disorders, until it had established its supremacy over the greater part of India. Though a predatory war, such as he conducted, must necessarily inflict extensive misery, his enemies bear witness to his anxiety to mitigate the evils of it by humane regulations, which were strictly enforced. His devotion latterly degenerated into extravagances of superstition and austerity, but seems never to have obscured his talents or soured his temper.
When Sambaji returned from the Mogul camp, he was again placed in confinement at Panalla, and was there when his father died. This circumstance, and some expressions of uneasiness which had fallen from Sevaji regarding the future conduct of his
eldest son, afforded a pretext for alleging that he designed the succession for the second, Raja Ram, a boy of ten years old. The intrigues of this young prince’s mother gained acceptance to the story; and the Bramin ministers, who dreaded Sambaji’s violence, and looked with pleasure to a long minority, affected to receive it as authentic, and sent orders for the close arrest of Sambaji, concealing Sevaji’s death till that object should be accomplished.
But Sambaji, who was a prisoner at large within Panalla, contrived to get possession of the secret, and announced his own accession to the garrison, who immediately acknowledged his authority. He did not at first venture out of his strong hold, but the public opinion was favourable to his right; the Bramin ministers fell out among themselves; a force that was sent to besiege him was gained over to his interest; and he at length made his entry into Raighar as undisputed sovereign (June, 1680).
His prudence, up to this time, had gone far to remove the prejudice entertained against him; but the favourable impression was effaced by his cruelties after his accession. He put the widow of Sevaji to a painful and lingering death; he imprisoned her son, Raja Ram; threw the Bramin ministers, who had been most active against him, into irons; and beheaded such of his other enemies as were not protected by the sanctity of their class. The same prevalence of passion over policy appeared
in his foreign proceedings.
Sevaji had always been in a state of hostility with the Abyssinians of Jinjera, and had occasionally made great efforts to reduce them. Sambaji’s first operations were against these people; and, as they were near neighbours to his capital, he took a personal interest in the war, and for a long time gave up his whole thoughts to subduing them, as if he had had no other enemy in the world.
He was not diverted from this pursuit even by the arrival of Prince Akber in his camp (June, 1681). He received the prince with honour, and acknowledged him as emperor, yet showed no intention of rendering his pretensions useful by supporting them against Aurangzib. The arrival of Akber suggested to the party still secretly opposed to Sambaji the possibility of obtaining his sanction to the claim of Raja Ram.
Their plot was soon discovered; many of their leaders were trampled to death by elephants; and among the sufferers was one of the chief Bramin ministers, whose eminent services to Sevaji seemed to protect him from capital punishment almost as much as his sacred order.
The disaffection to Sambaji’s government produced by these executions was increased by other causes. He neglected or persecuted his father’s ministers, while he threw his own affairs, without reserve, into the hands of Calusha, a Bramin from Hindostan, who had gained his favour by encouraging his vices, as well as by his insinuating manners and superficial accomplishments.
With the aid of this counsellor, he eagerly prosecuted his operations against Jinjera (1682). He endeavoured to construct a mound to connect the island with the main land, and he afterwards attempted an assault by means of boats. All his exertions were in vain; and when he was constrained to raise the siege, the Abyssinians increased his mortification by sallying out and plundering his villages. They soon after injured him still more sensibly by entirely defeating his fleet at sea. Exasperated by these affronts, he charged the Europeans settled on the coast with having contributed to produce them: he began hostilities in person against the Portuguese, with whom Sevaji had also been at war, and nearly proceeded to the same extremity with the English, although they had hitherto always been treated as friends. These petty operations were interrupted by attacks from the Moguls, the precursors of the appearance of Aurangzib.
Sambaji’s chiefs had not been entirely inactive in the Deckan during his own occupation with the Abyssinians; but great relaxation had been introduced into discipline; and it was increased, along with all other disorders, by the habits to which the raja had given himself up. His whole time was spent in idleness and debauchery: the vast treasures left by Sevaji were soon dissipated; and, although Calusha added to the general disaffection by increasing the land revenue, the income of the state was inadequate to its expenditure. The troops, left long in arrears, appropriated the plunder
taken on expeditions to their own use, and degenerated from the comparatively regular bands of Sevaji into the hordes of rapacious and destructive freebooters which they have ever since remained.
By this time Aurangzib had made his treaty with the rana of Oudipur; and, after leaving a detachment to ravage the Jodpur territory, moved with the whole force of his empire to the conquest of the Deckan.
It would appear to have been sound policy for Aurangzib to have combined with the kings of Bijapur and Golconda in putting down Sambaji, and restoring the tranquillity of the Deckan; but he, perhaps, thought that those monarchs were more jealous of him than of the Marattas, and would not sincerely unite with him, so that Sambaji would never want a retreat while they had dominions in which to harbour him. It is at least as probable that the acquisition of the kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda was Aurangzib’s primary object, and that he judged the reduction of Sambaji to be a necessary consequence of success in his other more important undertaking. He had seen with pleasure the wars of those kings with each other, and with the Marattas; had fomented their internal disorders; and seemed so far blinded as to think that every thing that threw the Deckan into confusion must turn to his advantage.
His first advance was to Burhanpur, where he made a long halt, as he afterwards did at Aurangabad.
He was occupied during those periods on political and financial arrangements; and, by a sort of infatuation, he took this occasion to enforce the strict exaction of the jezia, which the common sense of his officers had led them to avoid.
Before he had left Burhanpur, he sent Prince Azim with a considerable force to reduce the hill forts near the junction of the Chandor range with the Ghats, and Prince Moazzim, with a still larger one, to overrun the Concan, and penetrate to the south of Sambaji’s country, and the borders of that of Bijapur.
It is as difficult to see any general design in the employment of these armies as to understand the principles on which their operations were conducted. The strong fort of Saler was given up by previous concert to Prince Azim, and this petty intrigue may have tempted Aurangzib to detach a force to this unconnected point; but to send a large army of cavalry303 among the rocks and thickets of the Concan, where there were no roads, no forage, and no field for the employment of horse, shows a want of judgment that it is quite impossible to explain.
Moazzim marched the whole length of the Concan unopposed; yet, by the time he got to the neighbourhood of Goa, he had lost almost the whole of his horses and cattle, and even his men began to suffer from scarcity. The pressure was increased by Sambaji, who stopped up the Ghats, while his cruizers cut off
the vessels that were sent with supplies by sea; and Moazzim thought himself fortunate when he was able to emerge into the country above the Ghats with the remains of his dismounted army. He was pursued by the effects of an unwholesome climate and unusual food, and lost a great portion of his men by an epidemic which broke out at Walwa, near Mirich, on the Kishna, where he encamped for the period of the rains.
When the season opened he was directed to enter the territory of Bijapur from the south-west, so as to co-operate with Prince Azim, who, after failing in his expedition against the forts, was dispatched with a powerful army to invade Bijapur; while Aurangzib himself advanced to Ahmednagar, *leaving a reserve under Khan Jehan at Aurangabad.
This movement gave Sambaji an opportunity to retaliate the invasion of his country. He gradually assembled a body of horse in the north of the Concan, behind the right flank of Aurangzib’s armies, which from thence moved rapidly along their rear, sacked and burned the great city of Burhanpur, and then drew off again to the Concan, leaving all the country through which it had passed in a blaze. So secret as well as rapid were the movements of this body, that Khan Jehan, marching on a point where he thought to intercept it, found himself entirely off the line of its retreat.
Meanwhile Prince Azim had taken Solapur, and was advancing towards Bijapur; but he found
himself unable to cope with the army that was sent out to oppose him, and was compelled to retreat beyond the Bima; while Moazzim, too weak to attempt any movement by himself, was obliged to wait for reinforcements, by which he was escorted to Ahmednagar with the wreck of his fine army.
After these failures Aurangzib advanced in person to Solapur, and sent on Prince Azim with his army reinforced: although the distance was so short, the Bijapur troops cut off the prince’s supplies, and would have destroyed his army, if a large convoy of grain had not been skilfully conducted into his camp by Ghazi u din304.
The impression he made was still small, until Aurangzib, at a later period, moved on to the siege in person.
It was in the present stage of the war that the Marattas, seeing the Moguls drawn off to the south, made another bold inroad into the territory in their rear, plundered the city of Baroch, and retreated after ravaging the adjoining part of Guzerat. It is not clear whether Sambaji sent out this expedition from motives of his own, or in concert with the Deckan kings. He had about this time entered into a defensive alliance with the king of Golconda; and on this fact becoming known to Aurangzib, he did not allow his attention to be drawn off to Sambaji, but immediately made it a ground of quarrel with Golconda, and sent an army to invade that kingdom. From his usual
distrust of powerful armies and great commanders, the force he sent was insufficient; and ere long he was constrained to send his son, Prince Moazzim, with a large body of troops, to support the first army, and take the command of the whole. The government of Golconda was in a very different state from the distracted condition of Bijapur. The king, Abul Hasan, though indolent and voluptuous, was popular; and his government and finances were ably conducted by Madna Pant, a Bramin, to whom he wisely gave his full confidence. But the exclusive employment of this minister was odious to the Mussulmans, and especially to Ibrahim Khan, the commander-in-chief, into whose hands the power would probably have fallen under any different arrangement. When Moazzim drew near, this man deserted to him with the greater part of his army. Madna Pant was murdered in a simultaneous tumult in the city; the king fled to the hill fort of Golconda, and Heiderabad was seized and plundered for three successive days. Moazzim did his best to check this breach of discipline; and it gave the utmost displeasure to the emperor, not so much from humanity, or even policy, as on account of the quantity of treasure lost to the crown, which he violently suspected that Moazzim had embezzled for his own ambitious purposes, as he himself had done on a similar occasion under Shah Jehan. Having thus effectually crippled the king of Golconda, he granted him peace for a
great pecuniary payment, and turned his whole forces to the reduction of Bijapur.
The army of that monarchy appears at this time to have melted away; for, although the walls of the city are six miles in circumference, Aurangzib was able to invest it completely, while he employed a portion of his army on a regular attack and breach. So well was the blockade kept up, that by the time the breach was practicable the town was distressed for provisions; and as the garrison, though small, was composed of Patans, it was thought prudent to give them favourable terms.
Aurangzib entered the place on a portable throne through the breach, the young king was made prisoner, and Bijapur, ceasing to be a capital, was soon reduced to the deserted condition in which it now stands305.
No sooner had Bijapur fallen than Aurangzib determined to break the peace with Golconda; and the means he employed were as base as the design was perfidious. He drew his army near on pretext of a pilgrimage, and he obtained jewels and gifts of all sorts from the unfortunate king, anxious at any cost to purchase his friendship, or at least his compassion; but during all this interval he was intriguing with the ministers of Golconda, and debauching the troops; and when his plot was ripe for execution, he published a manifesto denouncing the king as a protector of infidels, and soon after laid siege to his fort.
From this moment Abul Hasan seemed to cast aside his effeminacy; and, though deserted by his troops, he bravely defended Golconda for seven months, till it also was given up by treachery; and he then bore his misfortunes with a dignity and resignation that has endeared his memory to his subjects and their descendants even to this day.
During this siege, the unsleeping suspicions of Aurangzib were stirred up by some indiscreet communications between Abul Hasan and Prince Moazzim. The object of this intercourse was to procure the prince’s intercession with his father; but to Aurangzib it appeared to afford a confirmation of all his former surmises, and he lost no time in securing Moazzim, who remained in more or less strict confinement for nearly seven years. Moazzim seems never to have given any cause for these alarms. All accounts give him credit for
caution and moderation. Bernier says, no slave could be more obedient, or seem more devoid of ambition: he, however, hints that this was rather too like Aurangzib’s own conduct in his youth; and perhaps the same reflection may have occurred to the emperor306.
Aurangzib had now attained the summit of his wishes, but had sown a harvest of which he and his posterity were to reap the bitter produce.
The governments which in some degree kept up order in the Deckan being annihilated, the frame of society which depended on them was dissolved, and the scattered materials remained as elements of discord. Though the Patans and foreign mercenaries may have obtained service with the emperor, the rest of the troops of both armies were obliged to join Sambaji, or to plunder on their own account. The distant zemindars seized every opportunity to make themselves independent, and, among all the wars and robberies to which they betook themselves, were always ready to befriend the Marattas, whom they looked on as the patrons of anarchy: those most within reach of the Moguls were disaffected to their conquerors; and from this motive, and the new-born feeling of religious opposition, were always ready to assist their enemies: so that in spite of a short gleam of prosperity after the fall of Golconda, Aurangzib might date from that event a train of vexations and disasters which followed him to the grave.
He was not remiss in taking advantage of his present good fortune. He took possession of all the territories of Bijapur and Golconda, even their latest southern conquests: he seized on Shahji’s jagir in the Mysore, confining Vencaji to Tanjore, and compelling the Marattas in Sevaji’s late acquisitions to fly to their forts; but in all these countries he had little more than a military occupation: the districts were farmed to the Desmuks and other zemindars, and were governed by military leaders, who received 25 per cent. for the expense of collecting, and who sent up the balance, after paying their troops, to the king; unless, as often happened, assignments were made for a period of years on fixed districts for the payment of other chiefs.
During all these great events Sambaji remained in a state of personal inertness, ascribed by the Maratta historians to the enchantments of Calusha, but naturally explained by the stupor and mental debility produced by a course of drunkenness and debauchery.
Prince Akber, disgusted with his manners, and hoping nothing from such an ally, quitted his court and repaired to Persia, where he lived till 1706. The chiefs exerted themselves individually against the Moguls, notwithstanding the inefficiency of their raja; but in spite of their resistance, the open country belonging to the Marattas was gradually taken possession of, and Aurangzib was preparing for a systematic attack on the forts, when the activity of one of his officers unexpectedly
threw his principal enemy into his hands.
Sambaji was enjoying himself, with a small party of attendants, in a favourite pleasure-house, at Sangameswar in the Concan, when intelligence of his unguarded situation was brought to Tokarrab Khan, the Mogul officer at Colapur307. Though this place is only fifty or sixty miles from Sangameswar, it is separated from it by the range of Ghats; and as Tokarrab Khan was only a governor of a district, his neighbourhood (if it could so be called) gave little uneasiness to Sambaji or those about him. Being an active and enterprising soldier, he set off with a small body of troops, and took his measures so well that he reached Sangameswar before his march was suspected. Sambaji might still have escaped; for, before his house was surrounded, some of his followers ran in with information of the arrival of the Moguls; but Sambaji was in a state of intoxication, and replied by threatening them with punishment for such insulting intelligence. Soon after Tokarrab made his appearance; most of the attendants fled; Calusha was wounded in endeavouring to save his master; and both were made prisoners and sent in triumph to the imperial head quarters308.
They were led through the camp on camels, amidst the din of drums and other noisy instruments, and surrounded by an innumerable multitude, who flocked to see their dreaded enemy; and, after being exhibited before Aurangzib, they were ordered into confinement. Aurangzib probably intended to spare his prisoner, for a time at least, as an instrument for gaining possession of his forts; but Sambaji, now roused to a sense of his degradation, courted death, and replied to an invitation to become a Mussulman by language so insulting to the emperor, and so impious towards his prophet, that an order was given for his immediate execution.
The sentence was probably issued on the ground of blasphemy; for it was attended with studied barbarity, very unlike the usual practice of Aurangzib. His eyes were first destroyed with a hot iron, his tongue was cut out, and he was at last beheaded along with his favourite, Calusha.
Though his person had been despised by the Marattas, his fate was pitied and resented; and the indignation and religious hatred of the nation was raised to a higher pitch than ever.
Weakness of the Marattas.
Strong as was the animosity of the Marattas, their chance of resistance appeared to be very small. The overwhelming force of Aurangzib, his personal reputation, even the pomp and grandeur which surrounded him, and the very name of the Great Mogul, struck them with an awe which they had not experienced in their former wars with his lieutenants. Their weakness became more conspicuous
when Aurangzib, remaining, himself, near Puna, sent a force to lay siege to their capital of Raighar. The principal chiefs had assembled there on the death of Sambaji, had acknowledged his infant son, afterwards called Saho, as raja, and had nominated his uncle, Raja Ram, to be regent.
They then, after providing the fortress with a garrison and provisions, withdrew with the regent, to be ready for any service that might arise.
Raighar held out for several months, until a secret ascent was disclosed to the Moguls by a Mawali chief, whom some personal disgust, combined with the general despondency, induced to this act of treason309. The infant raja was now in the hands of the enemy, and it was resolved that the regent, instead of exposing to risk the last representative of Sevaji, should withdraw to the distant fortress of Jinji in the Carnatic; while his forts in the Deckan were to be put in a good state of defence, and his troops dispersed in their villages, ready to profit by better times.
Ram Raja accordingly
proceeded with a few followers in disguise through the hostile provinces between him and Jinji.
When he reached that place, he proclaimed his arrival, and assumed the title of raja, on the ground of the captivity of his nephew. He was fortunate in an adviser in Prillad, one of the Bramin ministers, who had sufficient talents to gain an ascendancy over the other ministers and chiefs, and judgment to see that it was not desirable, even if it had been practicable, to do more than give a common scope to the general efforts.
Without the pervading genius of Sevaji, the Marattas would never have been formed into a nation; but now, when all were animated by one spirit, the nature of the people, and their mode of war, required that it should be left to operate by individual exertions. The plan best adapted to them was, to bend before a blow, to offer nothing tangible for the enemy to attack, and to return to the charge with undiminished vigour whenever it suited them to take the part of assailants. Accordingly, their chiefs who were in possession of lands lost no time in making their submission to the Mogul, and none were louder in professions of zeal and attachment than they; but they almost all kept up a communication with the rebels, allowed their retainers to join them, even sent parties secretly under their own relations to share in plundering expeditions, and did more mischief as spies and hollow confederates than they could have done as open enemies. The soldiers, also, when they had no efficient
government or regular treasury to look to, formed each his own plan for his individual profit. The thirst for plunder was always the strongest passion of the nation, from the first robbers under Sevaji to the most opulent times of the monarchy. Their only word for a victory is, “to plunder the enemy;” and though they readily combine for common objects, yet even then the mass is moved by each man’s eagerness for his separate booty. When this spirit was called into activity, it required but a moderate interference on the part of the government to give it a direction that rendered it more formidable than the courage of disciplined armies.
When the Maratta government appeared to have been expelled from the Deckan, Aurangzib dispatched Zulfikar Khan, the son of Assad Khan, who had distinguished himself by the capture of Raighar, to give it its death-blow by the reduction of Jinji. Zulfikar, on his arrival, found that his force, though considerable, was not sufficient to reduce, or even to invest, the place. He applied to Aurangzib for reinforcements, and in the mean time employed part of his army in levying contributions on Tanjore310 and other southern countries. Aurangzib was in no condition to furnish the reinforcements desired. He had sent his son, Cambakhsh, with an army to reduce Wakinkera, a fort not far from Bijapur, which, though only held by the head of one of the predatory tribes of the Deckan, was strong enough to baffle all his efforts.
A still greater demand for troops was created by the re-appearance of the Marattas themselves. No sooner was Ram Raja settled in Jinji, than he dispatched his two most active chiefs, Santaji Gorpara and Danaji Jadu, to make a diversion in his own country. Before they arrived, some bands of discharged Bijapur troops had begun to plunder on their own account, and as soon as these well-known leaders made their appearance, Maratta horsemen issued from every village, and flocked to join their standards. Ram Chander Pant, who was left at Sattara, in the civil charge of what little territory remained to the Marattas, had assembled some troops within his own districts, and by appealing to the predatory spirit before adverted to, he now called a new and most efficient army at once into. existence.
His plan was, to confer on every man of influence amongst the soldiery a right to levy the chout, and other claims of the Maratta government, on all places not in its possession, and to plunder and lay waste every country that refused this tribute. The contributions were to go to the payment of the troops, the booty to the actual captors, and each chief was authorised to impose, for his personal benefit, a new exaction, called ghas dana, or corn and hay money. This invitation put every horseman in the country in motion. Most of the principal Maratta names appear (and many for the first time) as leaders of independent parties of various strength, which set out to enrich themselves at the expense of the Mogul’s subjects; sometimes
each acting singly, and sometimes with a general concert, and fixed plans for rendezvous and retreat. The armies of Santaji and Danaji, though under the control of those chiefs, acted much on the same system: the Marattas spread, at once, in all directions, and the whole Deckan was filled with fire and rapine, terror and confusion.
It was now that the Mogul and Maratta systems of war were fairly brought into competition, and it soon appeared with which side the advantage lay. The long tranquillity and mild government and manners established by Akber, and the greater mixture with the Hindus, first began to soften the character of the northern conquerors of India. The negligence of Jehangir’s reign, and the internal quiet of Shah Jehan’s, were respectively unfavourable to discipline and to military spirit; and by the time we are speaking of, both were very sensibly impaired. The nobles had far advanced towards the sloth and effeminacy for which they have since been noted; and even those who retained their energy were unsuited to active service. They all went into the field in coats of wadding, that would resist a sword, and over that chain or plate armour, and were mounted on large and showy horses, with huge saddles, and ample housings of cloth or velvet, from which many streamers of different coloured satin, and often pairs of the bushy ox tails of Tibet, hung down on each side. The horse’s neck, and all the harness, were loaded with chains, bells, and ornaments of the
precious metals; and as each soldier imitated his superior as far as his means would admit, they formed a cavalry admirably fitted to prance in a procession, and not ill adapted to a charge in a pitched battle, but not capable of any long exertion, and still less of any continuance of fatigue and hardship.
To their individual inefficiency was added a total relaxation of discipline. In spite of all Aurangzib’s boasted vigilance, the grossest abuses had crept into the military department. Many officers only kept up half the number of their men, and others filled the ranks with their menials and slaves. Such comrades corrupted the soldiers by their example, and extinguished spirit by degrading the military character. The indulgence and connivance necessary for chiefs so conscious of their own delinquencies completed the ruin of their troops. They could neither be got to keep watch nor to remain alert on picket, and their sluggish habits would have prevented them ever turning out on an emergency, even if the time required to adjust their bulky housings and heavy defensive armour had not put it out of the question311.
The emperor’s camp equipage was in all the pomp of peaceful times. Each nobleman endeavoured
to imitate this magnificence; even private soldiers attended to comfort in their tents, and the line of march presented a long train of elephants, camels, carts, and oxen, mixed up with a crowd of camp followers, women of all ranks, merchants, shopkeepers, servants, cooks, and all kinds of ministers of luxury, amounting to ten times the number of the fighting men. This unwieldy host soon eat up a country, and the people suffered further from the insolence and licence of the soldiery312.
The Marattas, as has been said, were little active men, accustomed to hard work and hard fare. Their usual food was a cake of millet with perhaps an onion: their dress a small turban, tight breeches covering their thighs, and a scarf or sash rolled round their middle. When their body was not bare, it was covered by a light cotton tunic.
Their arms were a sword and a matchlock, but oftener a bamboo spear 13 or 14 feet long; their national weapon, which they used with extraordinary skill. Their horses were those of their own country; small, strong, and active; capable of enduring great fatigue; and taught to bound forward, or stop, or to wheel round when at full speed, on the slightest pressure from their rider’s leg. They had a pad for a saddle, with a blanket folded over
it. When stationary, few except the chiefs had tents; and on their inroads, each man slept on the ground, with his spear stuck by him and his bridle tied to his arm, ready to leap on horseback on the slightest alarm of the approach of an enemy.
An assemblage of such troops never stood the heavy charge of a body of Moguls, but dispersed at once, and scampered off singly to the nearest hills or broken ground. If the enemy left their ranks to pursue them, they cut off single horsemen, or rapidly assembled behind a ravine, or in some other situation where it was not safe for small parties to attack them; and, when the disheartened pursuers turned back with their horses exhausted, the Marattas were upon them in a moment, charged in on them, if there was an opening or confusion, but generally hung loosely on their flanks and rear, sometimes dashing up singly to fire their matchlocks into the mass, or even to dispatch a straggler with their long spears. Their chief excellence, as well as their delight, was in the plunder of a convoy. The favour of the country people gave them full information, while it kept the Moguls in darkness, till they were suddenly assailed on the line of march, and saw the camels and cattle, carrying the grain and stores they were escorting, swept off in a moment. They would then form a compact body to protect those which were carrying treasure; but, with such a prize before them, the Marattas were irresistible: the party was generally obliged to take post; the Marattas cut off the communications, and
perhaps even the water; and, at the end of a day or two, the Moguls were obliged to surrender; the men were stripped of their horses and their valuables, and the chiefs detained for a ransom.
As Aurangzib drew a great proportion of his recruits and treasures from Hindostan, Santaji and Danaji threw themselves between his army and that country.
They intercepted several convoys, defeated more than one detachment, and gained such a superiority that the Moguls began to change their contempt for them into fear and dread.
In this state of discouragement Aurangzib perceived the necessity of adopting some measure, which, if it did not bring the war to an end, might recover his reputation and restore the spirit of his troops.
He resolved on the vigorous prosecution of the operations against Jinji: he had withdrawn Cambakhsh from Wakinkera, and he now sent that prince with a fresh army to assume the conduct of the siege; but, according to his usual practice, he appointed Assad Khan, the father of Zulfikar Khan, to serve with him, and committed the real direction of all operations to those noblemen.
This arrangement disgusted both parties: the prince was displeased at the little solid authority intrusted to him, and the others thought it hard that Zulfikar should be deprived of the dignity of the command and the honour of the victory313.
So completely was Zulfikar led away by his resentment,
that he listened to overtures from the Maratta Bramins (ever on the watch to profit by such dissensions); and by indecisive operations on his own part, as well as by affording intelligence to the enemy, he enabled them to spin out the siege for no less than three years.
At the end of that time, Santaji Gorpara resolved on a bold attempt to relieve his raja. Leaving the rest of the Maratta hordes to keep Aurangzib in occupation, he called in Danaji Jadu, and set off for Jinji with 20,000 of their best cavalry. He passed rapidly through the intervening country, and came on the besieging army with such celerity, that before they could arrange their cumbrous body for mutual support, his advance had surprised one of their divisions, plundered its tents, and made the commander prisoner; and he himself immediately after defeated a considerable body of troops sent out in haste to oppose him. He then drove in the outposts, destroyed the foragers, and cut off all supplies and intelligence from the camp. He next circulated reports of the emperor’s death, which were easily believed in such a moment of calamity; and under favour of that rumour, he made proposals to Cambakhsh to support his claim to the throne. Cambakhsh, who seems to have apprehended sinister designs on the part of Assad and Zulfikar, gave ear to these communications, while his intercourse with the enemy in like manner alarmed those officers.
One night Cambakhsh ordered his immediate contingent to get under
arms, and the two generals assuming (whether justly or otherwise) that this was a direct attempt to go over to the Marattas, immediately placed the prince under restraint314.
This step increased the alarms and dissensions in the army to such a pitch, that they were soon compelled to blow up their cannon, abandon their batteries, and concentrate on one spot, where they intrenched themselves, and were besieged in their turn. At length an agreement was entered into between the parties; the Moguls were to be allowed to withdraw about twenty miles to Vandiwash, and were there to await the further orders of the emperor.
On the first advance of Cambakhsh and Assad Khan, Aurangzib had moved southward, and cantoned at Galgala on the Kishna. In the next year he retired to Birmapuri, near Panderpur, on the Bima, where he erected a permanent cantonment, and remained for several years. He now made a movement to Bijapur, and at the same time sent orders expressing his total disapprobation of the proceedings of his generals.
He directed Cambakhsh to be sent up to court, and received him with marked kindness315: at the same time he recalled Assad Khan; but, with unaccountable inconsistency, left the sole command of the army to Zulfikar Khan, whom, though the ablest of his
officers, he could not now expect to find the best affected.
The war, when renewed, assumed a desultory character. Zulfikar levied contributions at Tanjore; and Santaji totally destroyed a very strong Mogul detachment under an officer of rank and reputation near Chitaldrug in the Mysore: other conflicts took place, with various success, in different parts of the country; but the general result must have been favourable to the Moguls, as they were able, in the end, to resume the siege of Jinji.
During the operations in the field, Zulfikar performed the part of a zealous and able officer; but, on recommencing the siege, he renewed his intercourse with the Marattas, and evidently made it his object to protract the fall of the place316.
But it was difficult to carry on such practices under a prince of Aurangzib’s penetration; and in the course of the next year Zulfikar found that he must either take Jinji or expect to be recalled in disgrace.
He performed a last act of friendship in advising Raja Ram to escape; and then, prosecuting his operations with vigour and in earnest, he, before long, made himself master of the fortress.
301. Mr. Oxenden, who was envoy from Bombay to Sevaji, was present at his coronation, and describes it as much more splendid than would have been expected among early Marattas. It took place on the 6th of June, 1674.
302. First week of May, 1677. Wilks’s Mysore, from the “Madras Records.”
303. Orme says 40,000.
304. The ancestor of the present Nizam.
305. “The walls, which are of hewn stone, and very lofty, are to this day entire, and, being surmounted by the cupolas and minarets of public buildings, still present to the spectator, from without, the appearance of a flourishing city; but, within, all is solitude, silence, and desolation. The deep moat, the double rampart, and the ruins of the splendid palaces in the citadel, attest the former magnificence of the court. The great mosque is a grand edifice, and the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah, already mentioned, is remarkable for its elegant and graceful architecture; but the chief feature in the scene is the mausoleum of Mohummud Adil Shah, the dome of which fills the eye from every point of view; and, though in itself entirely devoid of ornament, its enormous dimensions and austere simplicity invest it with an air of melancholy grandeur, which harmonises with the wreck and desolation that surround it.” (Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 340.) One is at a loss, in seeing these ruins, to conjecture how so small a state could have maintained such a capital.
306. Bernier, vol. i p. 120.
307. Grant Duff. From a letter in the “Rakaim i Karaim” (the forty-first in the India House copy), it appears that the plan originated with Aurangzib himself, and was executed in strict conformity to his orders. Tokarrab, by that letter, seems to have been besieging Parnala.
308. Calusha is generally, but erroneously, believed to have betrayed his master.
309. It seems unaccountable that these forts, which, at some times, are taken by a dozen at a time, at others held out for years against well-equipped armies: but they are often ill garrisoned, and without provisions; the garrison is often paid by lands which lie under the fort, and make them dependent on the enemy; even good garrisons are often surprised from overconfidence in the strength of the place, and sudden despair when they find difficulties overcome which they thought insurmountable. When such forts are in good order, with properly prepared garrisons and stores, it requires all the military resources and active courage of Europeans to make an impression on them.
310. Called by the Marattas “Chandawar.”
311. “The Frenchmen praised the high pay, and said the service was diversion: nobody would fight or keep watch, and only forfeited a day’s pay when they failed to do either.” (Gemelli Carreri, in Churchill’s Collection, vol. iv. See also the Bondela Narrative in Scott’s Deckan, vol. ii.)
312. Gemelli Carreri saw Aurangzib’s cantonment at Galgala (March, 1695.) He describes it as an enormous assemblage, said greatly to exceed a million. The king’s and prince’s tents occupied a space of upwards of three miles in circumference, and were fortified with a ditch, palisades, and falconets.
313. Grant Duff; Khafi Khan; and the Bondela Narrative, in Scott’s Deckan.
314. Report of Assad and Zulfikar to Aurangzib, quoted by the emperor in the forty-seventh note of the “Rakaim i Karaim:” also Grant Duff; Khafi Khan; and Bondela Narrative.
315. Forty-eighth and forty-ninth notes of the “Rakaim i Karaim.”
316. All Zulfikar’s intrigues with the enemy appear from Maratta MSS. referred to by Captain Grant Duff, and are asserted (probably on similar authority procured at Mysore) by Colonel Wilks. They are unknown to the writers on the Mogul side; but the Bondela accuses Zulfikar of purposely prolonging the war. His object, probably, was to retain his large command and important position until the death of the emperor, which his very advanced age made men expect to be of early occurrence.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage