Bishan Singh

Bishan Singh

Raja Bishan Singh was the grandson of Raja Ram Singh I and was ruler of Amber, and head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan, from 1688 to 1699.


On the death of his grandfather Ramsingh I, the 16-year old Bishan Singh returned to Amber with his Kachwaha clansmen. He had been serving with Ram Singh in Afghanistan, even though the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had demanded that he be sent to serve in the Deccan Wars. But remembering the fate of other Hindu princes when serving in the Mughal armies on distant campaigns, Ram Singh had evaded that order. For this he had been demoted in rank and reduced in the possession of some estates——Bishan on the other hand was "entirely" deprived of his rank and lands.

Raja Bishan Singh was thus the first ruler of Amber (since the days of the great Man Singh) to sit on the throne without any rank or status in the Mughal nobility. So when Aurangzeb recognized Bishan Singh as Raja (30 April, 1688), made him commander of 2500 (cavalry), and gave him a cash advance for their maintenance, it seemed that the Amber royal family had come out of its dark days. Unfortunately this restoration came with a harsh condition——Bishan Singh was commanded to uproot the Jat rebels in the Agra province or these grants would be revoked.

Hindu rebellions

At this stage, while Aurangzeb was fighting in the Deccan Wars, North India was also covered by strife. The main rebellions were of the Rajputs in Rajasthan, Malwa, Gujarat, Bundelkhand——only the three weak states of Amber, Bundi, and Datia were in Mughal service, and were being used mostly against their own Hindu brethren by the cunning Aurangzeb. The other major rebellions were of the Sikhs in Punjab and the Jats in Agra.

The campaign against the Jats was led by Aurangzeb's grandson Bidar Bakht, with Bishan Singh as one of his subordinates. By that time the Jat leader Rajaram had died but even so their resistance was ferocious. Sansani fort was taken at the cost of 200 Mughals and 700 Rajputs while the Jats gave up 1500 of their men. The rest of the garrison was slaughtered by Bidar Bakht. Bishan Singh had been sent to take the lesser fort of Soghar——after conquering the fort the Rajput chief took 500 prisoners but did not slaughter any of his fellow Hindus.

Raja Bishan Singh carried out a military jurisdiction of the Mathura region in Agra from 1690-96 and his reward for such loyal service was——dismissal. Aurangzeb was angry because the Jats were not crushed, firstly because Bishan on his own did not have the resources to control the entire region, and secondly he would not engage in a slaughter of civilians. He was replaced by a Mughal officer named Itiqad Khan.

Aurangzeb's continued hostility

In 1696 Aurangzeb now commanded Bishan Singh to serve in his ruinous Deccan Wars——strange for an officer who had just been dismissed for failure in his appointed task! His real motive can only be guessed From Bishan Singh's action. The Raja pleaded with and bribed Mughal officials, Aurangzeb's sons, and his favorite daughter Zinat-un-nissa, until the order was changed to a summons for his 7-year old son Jai Singh II.

With the fate of his own father Kishan Singh, and other Rajput princes, fresh in his mind, Raja Bishan SIngh evaded this order for almost two years. The furious Aurangzeb now transferred Bishan Singh to Afghanistan with the half the Kachwaha clan, while the rest were placed under Jai Singh II. The bigoted emperor then sent his men to force this child to fight in his never-ending wars.

In Afghanistan, Bishan Singh served under Shah Alam who spent every winter in Peshawar and moved to Kabul for the summer. Like his grandfather, Bishan Singh died in this bitterly cold region (31 Dec 1699) after serving a bigoted and thankless master.

The child Jai Singh II, who came to the throne in these tragic circumstances, raised his family and kingdom (known as Jaipur after him) to the first rank in Rajasthan after an eventful career of 44 years.


A History of Jaipur by Sir Jadunath Sarkar

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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