Suraj Mal of Bharatpur

Suraj Mal of Bharatpur

Maharaja Suraj Mal (1707–1763) (Devanagari:महाराजा सूरज मल) was ruler of Bharatpur in Rajasthan in India. He has been described by a contemporary historian as "the Plato of the Jat people" and by a modern writer as the "Jat Ulysses", because of his political sagacity, steady intellect and clear vision. He was the greatest warrior and ablest statesman. [R.C.Majumdar, H.C.Raychaudhury, Kalikaranjan Datta: An Advanced History of India, fourth edition, 1978, ISBN 0333 90298 X, Page-535]

Birth and family of Suraj Mal

His exact date of birth is not known. Thakur Ganga Singh has mentioned in his book 'Gyat vansha Bharatpur ka itihas' about the birth of Maharaja Suraj Mal. He has referred to a folk-song "badhaya" sung by ladies on special Royal functions as a testomony. [Jat Samaj, Agra, January-February 2007] According to him Suraj Mal is believed to be born on the Hindu calendar tithi of akshyatratiya in the month of February 1707.

Suraj Mal was son of Badan Singh. All the authorities other than Wendel, do not express any doubt about the parentage of Suraj Mal. They clearly mention him as the son of Badan Singh. Sudan [Sujan, 4,6] and Somnath [Dirgh (Hindi Ms), 4] , [Ras Peeushnidhi and Madhav Vinod in Somnath,4,318] , who had personal acquaintance with the Jat affairs, mention him as the eldest son of Badan Singh. The author of Tarikh-i-Ahmad Shahi, also a contemporary of Suraj Mal [Tarikh-i-Ahmad Shahi (pers. Ms.), 43b] , mentions Badan Singh as the father of Suraj Mal. Giving full details, Fransoo, an authority weightier than Wendel, tells us that Suraj Mal was Badan singh’s eldest son, born of Rani Devki of Jat family from Kama. [Tarikh-i-Hunud (Pers. Ms.), 20a] . Several other sources also confirm this view. [Ghulam Ali, Imad (,84] , [Tarikh-i-bharatpur (Pers. Ms.),4b] , [Majma-ul-Akhbar in elliot, VIII, 362] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.270]

Raja suraj Mal was about 55 years old at the time of his death. Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 63] , [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 91] He had virtually exercised the sole management of the affairs of the state of Bharatpur for over twenty years before and after the death of Badan Singh. Of the said 14 Queens of Suraj Mal [Ganga Singh, op. cit., 256] , the names of 6 have been authentically told to us by Fransoo [Tawarikh-i-Hunud, 22a, 22b, 26b] . He enumerates them as below [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.279] :

#Rani Kishori, the daughter of Chowdhary Kashi Ram Jat of Hodal.
#Rani Hansia, the daughter of Chowdhary Rati Ram Jat of Salempur. She died childless.
#Ganga Rani, who hailed from a village Bichawindi
#Kalyani Rani, who came from the village Nahani Jhansi and was the mother of Nahar Singh.
#Rani Gauri, who originated from Gori Rajput clan of Amahand and was mother of Jawahar Singh and Ratan Singh.
#Rani Khattu, who was the khas wife of Suraj Mal.

According to Qanungo, from his four wives, he left five sons: Jawar Singh, Ratan Singh, Nawal Singh, Ranjit Singh and Nahar Singh. The first two were born of a lady, popularly reputed to have been a rajputni, possibly of Gaurua caste, the third was son of a Malin (gardener class) mother, the last two were born of his own tribe. But the mother of none of these enjoyed the particular affection of the old Raja, who loved most dearly his masculine and barren wife the famous queen Maharani Kishori. Jawahar Singh was fortunate enough to be adopted by this lady, whose influence and affection shielded the rebellious youth from the worst effects on the wrath of his father. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 91-92]

For various political reasons, Suraj Mal also had 24 mistresses each from a different cast, so as to gain popularity within a cast. The descendants of these mistresses, although Sinsinwar Jats, are called Kotri Bandh Thakurs. Out of the 24 mistresses, only 16 had children; the descendants of whom have now formed villages due to an increase in their numbers over the generations. These 16 villages are mostly in Bayana Tehsil of Bharatpur District.

Rise of Jat power

In the early 17th century, the farmers of Bharatpur were being terrorized and ill treated by the Mughals. At this point of time Churaman, a powerful Jat village headman rose against this tyranny but was defeated harshly by the Mughals. This did not remain for long, since the Jats once again came together under the leadership of Badan Singh, and controlled a vast expanse of territory. The Mughal emperor recognized him and the title of ‘Raja’ (king) was conferred upon him in 1724.

Deeg was the first capital of the Bharatpur state with Badan Singh being proclaimed its ruler in 1722. He was responsible for conceiving and constructing the royal palace on the southern side of the garden, now called Purana Mahal or old palace. Because of its strategic location and proximity to Mathura and Agra, Deeg was vulnerable to repeated attacks by invaders. In 1730, crown prince Suraj Mal is reported to have erected the strong fortress with towering walls and a deepwater moat with high ramparts about convert|20|ft|m wide in the southern portion of the town. In the same year he built the fortress at Kumher.

Raja Badan Singh’s heir, Raja Suraj Mal, was the most famous of the Bharatpur rulers, ruling at a time of constant upheaval around him. Raja Surajmal used all his power and wealth to a good cause, and built numerous forts and palaces across his kingdom, one of them being the Lohagarh Fort (Iron fort), which was one of the strongest ever built in Indian history. The inaccessible Lohagarh fort could withstand repeated attacks of British forces led by Lord Lake in 1805 when they laid siege for over six weeks. Having lost over 3000 soldiers, the British forces had to retreat and strike a compromise with the Bharatpur ruler. Of the two gates in the fort, one in the north is known as Ashtdhaatu (eight metalled) gate while the one facing the south is called Chowburja (four-pillared) gate.

Maharaja Suraj Mal conquered the site of Bharatpur from Khemkaran Sogaria, the son of Rustam, in the year 1733 and established the Bharatpur town in the year 1743.

Chandaus war 1746

The Chandaus War was in important event in the career of Maharaja Suraj Mal. Chandaus town is in Aligarh district. In 1745, the Delhi Mughal Badsah Aurangzeb became angry with Nawab Fateh Ali Khan of koīl (Aligarh), so to punish him Badsah sent an Afghan Chieftain Asad Khan. Fateh Ali Khan expected loss and insult in war with Asad Khan, so he sought help of Maharaja Suraj Mal. In the month of November 1745, hardly a month had passed for Suraj Mal and it was his first opportunity to take independent decisions in matters of external political and army affairs. Suraj Mal assured Fateh Ali Khan to help and sent an army under command of his son and later he himself moved to koīl (Aligarh). When Asad Khan attacked koīl (Aligarh) in early 1746, war took place at Chandaus in which Asad Khan was killed and the royal army was defeated. Thus with the active help and strength of Suraj Mal, Fateh Khan could save his jagir. This war helped in increasing the power of Bharatpur state. Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihasa (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998, Page-297 ] [PRakash Chandra Chandawat:Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug (1745–1763), Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page-59-60]

Bagru war 20 August 1748

Maharaja Suraj Mal developed friendly relations with Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur, who loved him like son. Raja Jai Singh died on 21 September 1743. After Sawai Jai Singh, there was a family dispute between his two sons Ishwari Singh and Madho Singh. Suraj Mal supported claim of the elder son Ishwari Singh on the throne. Younger son Madho Singh also put forward his claim for the throne and he was supported by Maharana Udaipur Jagat Singh. A war started between two brothers at place called Jahajpur in the end of 1743, which ended up in the victory of Ishwari Singh in March 1747. [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page-61]

After a peace of one year the Jaipur state's family dispute reached the peak. The Niwai expedition of Peshwa in May 1748 resulted into Ishwari Singh's agreeing to provide four parganas to Madho Singh. Meanwhile on receiving a message from Ishwari Singh Suraj Mal reached Jaipur with an army of 10000 and advised Ishwari Singh to ignore Peshwa's agreement. Holker then moved to attack Jaipur. Madho Singh was supported by Marathas, Rathors, Sisodia, Hada, Khichi and Panwar rulers. [Sudan: Sujan Charitra] [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page-62]

There was a front of seven rulers against Ishwari Singh, but Jat army under the leadership of Maharaja Suraj Mal faced the supporters of Madho Singh, the combined forces of Marathas, Mughals and Rajputs in Bagru War that started on 20 August 1748. The war continued for thee days in heavy rains. Jaipur army's harawal was led by Sikar thakur Shiv Singh Shekhawat, who was killed by Gangadhar Tantya on second day. Maharaja Suraj Mal himself took the leadership of Jaipur harawal on third day. Suraj Mal fought the war with great courage and hacked himself 50 and wounded 160 enemies. He converted almost sure defeat of Ishwari Singh to a victory. [Kalika Ranjan Qanungo: History of the Jats ] Thus in 1749 he established Ishwari Singh on the throne of Amer. This war enhanced the reputation of Maharaja Suraj Mal in the entire country, because he defeated Shishodias, Rathors, Chauhans and Marathas all together.Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page-63]

Bundi court poet Shurya Mall, who was watching the above war has mentioned about the bravery of Suraj Mal in Hindi poetry as under:

:"नहीं जाटनी ने सही व्यर्थ प्रसव की पीर:जन्मा उसके गर्भ से सूरजमल सा वीर"

Translation - The Jatni did not bear the labour pain in vain, she gave birth to a brave warrior like Suraj Mal.

The Marathas were defeated by Afghan armies at the Third Battle of Panipat and a hundred thousand Maratha survivors reached Suraj Mal’s territory while returning south, sans arms, sans clothes and sans food. Maharaja Suraj Mal and Maharani Kishori received them with tender warmth and hospitality, giving free rations to every Maratha solder or camp follower. The wounded were taken care of till they were fit to travel. Thus, Maharaja Suraj Mal spent no less than three million rupees on their sick and wounded guests.

Treaty with Mir Bakshi (1 January 1750)

Delhi Badsah was worried by the rising power of Jats of Bharatpur, as Jats had occupied Faridabad. Ahmadshah gave the Jagir of Faridabad to wajir Safdar Jang. The new wajir advised Balram, who had occupied Palwal and Faridabad paraganas and Suraj Mal to leave the shahi parganas but they ignored it. At the same time Mir Bakshi Salabat Khan also left for the Marwar expedition. In November 1749, Safdar Jang and Mir Bakshi planned to attack Maharaja Suraj Mal from different directions and sent a message to Suraj Mal to leave Faridabad for them. Suraj Mal was not moved by this proposal. Wajir Safdar Jang thought it wastage of time and money to do war with Suraj Mal, so he decided to be friendly with Suraj Mal. They wanted help of Suraj Mal to defeat Farrukhabad’s Vangash Pathan. Suraj Mal assured them to help and got faujdari of Mathura in exchange.

Mir Bakshi attacked Mewat to destroy Nimrana fort of Suraj Mal and occupied it on 30 December 1749. After this Mir Bakshi moved to Agra rather than Narnaul and stayed near Saray Shobh Chand. On 1 January 1750 Suraj Mal could know the objective of Mir Bakshi Salabat Khan, so he moved towards his camp. The army of Suraj Mal with 5000 Jat soldiers seized the army of Mir Bakshi. The Gohad ruler, Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana, with 200 sawars also joined him. Hakim Khan and Rustam Khan along with many Mughal soldiers were badly killed. The supply of water, food and other communications were blocked and Mir Bakshi was forced to do the treaty with Maharaja Suraj Mal.

Mir Bakshi Salabat Khan signed the following treaty with Suraj Mal through Fateh Ali Khan: [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page-71]

#No person of Mir Bakshi will cut "pipal" ("Ficus religiosa") tree in their country.
#No temple in this area will be insulted and no objection will be raised regarding worship of Hindus.
#Shuraj Mal took the responsibility that he would get Rs 15 lakh peshkash from Rajputs of Ajmer Subah. Provided Mir Bakshi takes oath that he would not cross Narnaul.

Ghaserā War 1753

The friendship of Suraj Mal with wajir Safdarjand paid him the dividends. On 20 October 1752 Suraj Mal appeared before the samrat with wajir and he was awarded with the title of 'Kunwar Bahadur Rajendra' and his father Badan Singh as 'Raja Mahendra'. In December wajir gave Suraj Mal the faujdari of Mathura and shahi jagir on Khalsa land. Thus Suraj Mal could legalize his possession over the shahi areas with the support of wajir.

In the early 1753, wajir cunsulted Suraj Mal to punish faujdar Bahadur Singh Bargujar of Koil, as both were suspecious of his friendship. They dicided to attack Koil. Wajir obtained shahi orders and handed over the leadership of this expedition to Suraj Mal. [Sudan: Sujan Charitra, Page 105-106] [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 84] Suraj Mal moved from Delhi for the war in first week of February 1753. Jawar Singh joined him after crossing Yamuna. Suraj Mal attacked Aligarh on 10 February and brought under his reign. Faujdar Bahadur Singh had to take shelter in his ancestral fort at Ghasera. [Taik-e-Ahmadsahi, page-47] , [Sudan: Sujan Charitra, Page 110-111]

Suraj Mal consulted his four Generals- Surati Ram Gaur, Bharath Singh, Daulat Ram and Kripa Ram Gujar about strategy to deploy the army to seize the Ghasera fort. The north front was led by Jawar Singh, south front by Bakshi Mohan Ram, Sultan Singh and Vir Narain. Balu Ram was asked to be ready for any front. Suraj Mal himself with a gun-army of 5000 and artillery led the eastern front with his mama Sukh Ram, Maidu ruler Ratan Singh, Mir Muhammad Panah, Gokul Ram Gaur, Ram Chandra Tomar, Hari Nagar and other chiefs including that of famously mercenary Saharan clan . [Sudan: Sujan Charitra, Page 112-113] Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 85]

On the other-side Rao Bahadur Singh was ready with 8000 soldiers, sufficient food and weapons. On the first day of war, Rao had to retreat back on the eastern front. His brother Jalim Singh and son Ajit Singh were wounded. Rao returned to fort and started intensive artillery attack from inside the fort. Suraj Mal instructed his beldars to dig out the trenches and shift the army fronts to the outer boundary. The war continued for many days. [Sudan: Sujan Charitra, Page 115-119]

Due to the severity of war and its probability of continuing for longer period, Rao Bahadur Singh, under pressure of his people sent his wounded brother for negotiation with Suraj Mal. Suraj Mal put a proposal to leave the front on the condition of paying Rs 10 lakhs along with entire artillery to be handed over to him. The stubborn Rao did not agree to hand over cannons. Meanwhile Jalim Singh died. After few days Suraj Mal again tried for negotiations but could not succeed. Suraj Mal then ordered severe attack from all sides. A severe war took place on the night of 22 April 1753. Next day Mir Muhammad Panah along with 1500 jat soldiers were killed but Jat army could enter the fort. Bahadur Singh decided for the jauhar, he massacred all the women in the fort. Rao Bahadur Singh along with his son Ajit Singh and the soldiers fought the decisive war. The court poet Sudan of Suraj Mal, who was eye witness of the war, has described about their bravery impartially. [Sudan: Sujan Charitra, Page 151] Rao Bahadur Singh along with his son Ajit Singh fought till last moment and were killed on 23 April 1753 and the fort of Ghasera was captured by Suraj Mal. [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 86 ] [Tarik-e-Ahmadshahi, Page 52]

Capture of Delhi (10 May 1753)

Maharaja Suraj Mal fortified the city by building a massive wall around the city. He started living in Bharatpur in year 1753. Maharaja Suraj Mal attacked Delhi on May 9 1753. He defeated Nawab of Delhi Ghazi-ud-din (second) on May 10 1753 and captured Delhi. The attack of Jats in Old Delhi and nearby areas frightened the people and started running to New Delhi Fact|date=July 2007 for the protection of life and property. The army of Badshah could not protect them. On 13 May samrat removed Safdarjang from the post of wajir and appointed Intijam as new wajir along with Imad as Mirbakshi. On the advise of Suraj Mal Safdarjang, in counter action, appointed Akbar Ādilshāh, said to be grandson of Kāmbaksh, as samrat of Delhi. On 14 May Jats sacked Chārbāg, Bāg-e-kultāt and Hakīm Munīm Bridge. They sacked Jaisinghpura on 15 May and burnt many areas. On 16 May Jats attacked Delhi ferociously and defeated Sādil Khan and Raja Devidatta in a severe war. On 17 May their army could capture Firozshah Kotla. In a severe war with Rohillas Najib was wounded and 400 Ruhela soldiers were killed. [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 90-92]

The Nawab of Delhi, in revenge of the defeat, instigated Marathas to attack Suraj Mal. The Marathas laid siege over the Kumher fort on January 1 1754. Suraj Mal fought with bravery and gave strong resistance. The Marathas could not conquer the Kumher fort.

Jat-Maratha treaty (18 May 1754)

The Marathas had attacked Kumher Fort on 20 January 1754 AD. They besieged the Kumher Fort till 18 May 1754. The war continued for about four months. During the war Khanderao Holkar, son of Malharrao Holkar, was one day inspecting his army in an open palanquin, when he was fired from in side the fort and a cannonball hit him and he was killed on 17 March 1754. Malhar Rao got very angry on the death of his only son and wanted to take revenge and vowed that he would cut off the head of Maharaja Suraj Mal and throw the soil of fort into Yamuna after destroying it. Marathas increased the pressure and Suraj Mal defended peacefully. Suraj Mal was alone and no other ruler was ready to help him. At this moment Maharaja Suraj Mal counseled Maharani Kishori, who assured him not to worry and started the diplomatic efforts. She contacted Diwan Roop Ram Katara. She knew that there is a strong enmity between Malharrao Holkar and Jayappa Sindhia and that Jayappa Sindhia was very firm in determinations. She advised Maharaja Suraj Mal to take advantage of mutual differences within Marathas. Diwan Roop Ram Katara was a friend of Jayappa Sindhia. She requested Diwan Roop Ram Katara to take letter of Maharaja Suraj Mal with a proposal of a treaty. Jayappa Sindhia assured to assist and contacted Raghunathrao. Raghunathrao in turn advised Holkar for treaty with Suraj Mal. Malhar Rao Holkar assessed the situation and consented for treaty due to fear of isolation and severe war. This led to a treaty between both rulers on 18 May 1754. This treaty proved very beneficial for Maharaja Suraj Mal. [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Pages 110-118]

The prelude to Panipat

India held her breath in painful suspense for the last six months of the year 1760. A struggle between the foreign Afghan invader and the Maratha for ascendancy in Northern India was given the appearance of a great communal and religious war by the Durrani and the Peshwa. Agents of Peshwa visited the court of every Hindu prince of Rajputana, but received a cold reception and evasive replies. [Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 72] Right from the start the Maratha commander attempted to win over allies. He wrote, though in vain, to the various Hindu and Muslim chiefs, seeking their help in banishing the invader. Rajwade, I, p.174] , [Selections from the Peshwa’s Daftar, New series, ed. and trans. by K.A.Nizami, XXIX 41] The Sarva Khap Panchayat of the upper Doab, however, responded to this call. [Muzaffarnagar Records, Kanha Ram, p.19]

Jats join Bhau

After his arrival on the bank of the Chambal, the Sadashivrao Bhau sent a high-flown letter to Raja Suraj Mal, requesting him to come without delay to the Maratha camp and unite [Imad. p. 78, 178] . Raja Suraj Mal, however, suspected treachery and hence hesitated to visit the Maratha camp till the Malhar Rao Holkar and Sindhia furnished personal oaths and solemn assurances concerning his safety.G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.209] They persuaded him to meet the Bhau at Agra. Suraj Mal went to the Maratha camp and was honourably received by the Bhau and other Maratha generals. Bhau, in person, advanced two miles (3 km) to welcome his only as well as an important ally (Suraj Mal. The renewed pledge followed, Bhau taking the Yamuna’s water in his hands as a solemn proof of his alliance with Jat Raja. The wazir held a conference with Bhau through the mediation of Suraj Mal., [Purandare, I, p.387] , [Selections from the Peshwa’s Daftar, New series, ed. and trans. by K.A.Nizami, II,127] , [Amira, p.103] , [Siyar, III, p.382-383] , [Tarikh-i-Ibrahim Khan in Elliot, VIII, p.274-275] , [Imad, p.121, 272] , [Scott, Dekkan, II, p. 240] , Memoires des Jats, p.53] , [Mirat, p. 907] , [Nur, p.32b] , [Qanungo, Jats, p.123-124]

From Agra they marched together to Mathura where the sight of Abdun Nabi’s mosque inflamed the anger of the Bhau. He turned upon Suraj Mal and said to him

:“You profess to be a Hindu; but how is that you have kept this mosque standing so long?”

Suraj Mal mildly replied:

:“Maharaj! Of late, the Royal fortune of Hindustan has become fickle in her favour like a courtesan; to-night she is in the arms of one man and next in the embrace of another. If I could be sure that I should remain master of these territories all through my life, I would have leveled this mosque down to the earth. But of what use will it be, if I to-day destroy this mosque, and tomorrow the Musalmans come, and demolish the great temples and build four mosques in place of one? As your Excellency has come to these parts the affair is now in your hands.” [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 73]

Everything went well for a few days and it was all love and cordiality between the Jats and the Marathas. But coolness soon sprang up owing to difference of opinion as to the plan of campaign against Abdali. The Maratha commander-in-chief called a council of war at Agra, and there, Suraj Mal was asked to give his opinion as to the proper method to be followed in impending campaign. The Jat chief emphasized caution and reflection in conducting the war against a mighty and clever enemy like the Abdali. He proposed that the ladies, the heavy equipage, big guns, and such other things, which were of little use in the present struggle, should be dispatched to Jhansi, Gwalior or any of his ‘four iron like forts’. The line of supplies should be kept safe and open. The provisions, he ensured, could be produced from Jat country. He advised to carry on an irregular warfare with light cavalry (jang-i-kazzaqana) against the Shah, and not encounter him in pitched battles after the manner of kings and emperors (jung-i-Sultani). He further advised the Bhau that one of the army should be sent towards the east, another towards Lahor, so that by devastating those countries, the supply of grain to the army of Durrani may be cut off and also create a diversion and thus force his Indian allies to desert Abdali. When the rainy season will arrive both sides will be unable to move from their places and at last the Shah, who will be in a disadvantageous position (in comparison with us), will of himself become distressed and return to his own country. The Afghans thus disheartened, would submit to your power. [Imad, p. 179-180] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.210]

All the chiefs of the Maratha army having praised his plan declared with one voice that this was their opinion too. But the arrogant Bhau looked upon this mode of fighting as unworthy of a prince like himself – the cousin of the Peshwa. He regarded this advice as an outcome of senility of Holkar and other aged chiefs and stupidity of the Jat upstart. Suraj Mal’s enthusiasm for his Maratha allies somewhat cooled down and an injurious misunderstanding was avoided only by the tact of other Maratha chiefs. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 75]

Raja Suraj Mal, accompanied by Ghazi-ud-din, joined the Bhau with 8000 Jats. The allied army reached Delhi on 23 July 1760 and laid siege to it. [Tarikh-i-Muzaffari (MS. p. 180)] Ghazi-ud-din threw himself into the task of capturing the city with his characteristic energy and resourcefulness. When the imperial capital fell, he had his revenge upon the Mughals (i.e.Abdalis) and the Marathas their plunder. So much booty fell into their hands, that none remained poor among them. [Sardesai, panipat, p.162] Ghazi-ud-din brought out of the imperial seraglio a prince of the royal line, seated him on the throne, restored order in the city, and for the first few days discharged the duties of the wazir, which office was believed by all to have naturally reverted to him. But the Bhau suddenly signified his unwillingness to recognize Ghazi-ud-din as wazir. He conferred the title of Raje Bahadur upon Naro Shankar, appointed him with the office of wazir. Raja Suraj Mal’s word was violated and he strongly represented against it. K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 76]

The folly and perversity of Sadashivrao Bhau did not stop here. The gilded silver ceiling of the Diwan-i-khas, beautifully inlaid with jewels, attracted the greedy eye of the rude southerner. He decided to strip it off and melt to pay the daily wages of his troops and in its place make a roof of wood. Having first decided he called Sindhia, Holkar and Suraj Mal to hear their advice about it. Suraj Mal advised:

:“Bhau Sahib! This room of the emperor’s throne is a place of dignity and veneration. Even Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Durrani, who had laid their grasp upon many a precious thing of the imperial palace, spared this ceiling. The emperor and the amirs are now in your hands. We shall not see this (disfiguring of the place) with our own eyes. It can bring us no credit but only the odium of disloyalty. To this humble prayer of mine about it today, you should kindly pay due consideration. If you are short of funds, you have only to order me. I am ready to pay you five lakhs of Rupees for sparing the ceiling.” [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 77]

The Bhau paid no heed to these words, thinking that he would get more by melting the ceiling. This heartless act of vandalism was committed under the orders of the Bhau the ceiling was taken down and weighed; but to his great disappointment the bullion was found only worth three lakhs of Rupees. Suraj Mal could restrain himself no longer; he went to the Bhau and bursting with honest indignation said:

:“Bhau Sahib? You have destroyed (the sanctity of) the throne while I am present here, and thereby brought odium upon me (as well). Whenever I make any request on any affair, you disregard and reject it. We at heart profess to be Hindus. Do you attach this much importance to Jamuna’s water which you touched (as solemn proof of your alliance with me)?” [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 77-78] , [Bhau Bakhar, quoted by Qanungo, Jats, p.131f]

In October 1760, the Bhau having decided to march against the Nawab of Kunjupura, summoned his chiefs, Holkar, Sindhia, Suraj Mal and others to consult them. Suraj Mal took this opportunity to vent his embittered feelings and with great bluntness said to the Bhau:

:“You have taken off the silver ceiling against our wishes. Replace to its former position… Give back to Ghazi-ud-din the office of wazir, which of right belongs to him. Sindhia, Holkar and I are all embarrassed on this account, and our honour and good name have been affected by it. From this time, be kind enough to give greater consideration to our little requests. In that case you can consider me and my resources at your disposal. I shall continue to help and supply you with provisions as before. You should not leave Delhi. Mature your plans from this place…It is not advisable to be now entangled in affair of Kunjpura.” K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 78] , [Supra, ch.Xi f.ns. p 81-92]

But this “wise” counsel met the same fate as did his preceding one., [Bhau Bakhar, quoted by Qanungo, Jats, p.132] The Bhau got very angry on the wholesome but unpalatable words and said:

:“What, have I come from the south relying on your strength? I will do what I like. You may stay here or go back to your own place. After overthrowing the Abdali, I shall come to reckoning with you.”

Bhau, however, differed sharply. He struck to the entrenched mode of warfare through heavy artillery and feet musketeers of his favourite gardi without appreciating that this system had yet to be synthesized with the traditional Maratha mode to yield the intended results., G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.219]

G.C.Dwivedi writes that equally sagacious was Suraj Mal’s insistence on keeping a firm base at Delhi. Impliedly it meant that the line of communication should not be lengthened and that continuous supplies be vigilantly ensured. The real implications of ignoring it were seen later on. Keene observes that had the advice of Suraj Mal been followed the resistance to the Abdali would have been more successful and the whole history of Hindustan far otherwise, than what it has since been. [H.G.keene, The Moghul Empire, (London: 1887), p.77-78] , , [Sarkar, Fall, II, p.368, 258] , [Qanungo, History of the Jats, p.128, 131,133] , [Owen op.cit., p. 242] , [Gupta, Panipat, p.151, 251] , [Tryambak Shankar Shejwalkar, "Panipat, 1761", p.48]

Suraj Mal’s withdrawal from Bhau’s camp

Suraj Mal, greatly disgusted and mortified, left the assembly and returned to his place, cursing his own folly in coming to the Maratha camp. Sindhia and Holkar had pledged their word of honour for the safety of Suraj Mal. These two chiefs, now greatly concerned, met secretly and thus deliberated:

:“We have brought the Jat chief Suraj Mal here by pledging our word of honour to him; the design of the Bhau is very bad. Balwant Rao and the Bhau have secretly planned to arrest Suraj Mal Jat, imprison and plunder his camp. Suraj Mal must be any how sent away in safety, so that the blame of faithlessness may not be laid on us. Let the master (the Bhau) do what he can (to punish us) on this account.”

Having deliberated thus, they sent for Rupram Katara, the vakil of Suraj mal and advised him “Do flee from this place tonight by any means. The encampment of Bhau Sahib lies at a distance: without letting him know it, slip out in silence. The pledge of honour between you and us is thus redeemed; say not a single word to us after this.” [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 79]

Rupram Katara came back to the Jat camp and explained the whole situation to his master Raja Suraj Mal. When three hours of night remained, the Jats silently struck their tents, packed their baggage, and marched off, with the connivance of Sindhia and Holkar, in the direction of Ballabhgarh, the nearest Jat stronghold, convert|22|mi|km to the south of Delhi. Suraj Mal safely reached Ballabgarh; the Maratha troops who went in pursuit came back after plundering some bazaars and the Bhau bit his lip in anger. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 79-80] Suraj Mal left the Maratha camp on 2nd August according to H.R.Gupta [Panipat, p.156] but according to J.N.Sarkar on 3rd August. [Fall, II, p.255]

Panipat and its sequel

The defeat of Marathas at Panipat was not an accident but a foregone conclusion. The Bhau had made an enemy of the only powerful Hindu Raja who had come to serve him loyally and placed all his resources at the disposal of the Marathas. The value of Suraj Mal’s adherence had hitherto been hardly appreciated by Bhau; but one day’s hostility of the Jat brought him to senses. Raja Suraj Mal, accompanied by Ghazi-ud-din Imad-ul-mulk, marched away to Tughlaqabad; grain became very dear (at Delhi), and next day the Marathas went to make a compromise with and pacify Imad-ul-mulk and Suraj Mal. [Waqa, p.178] A large tract of the country about Delhi had been so completely ruined by constant ravages, that the Durrani became dependent on the country of Ruhelas for his supplies and the Maratha army drew theirs from Suraj Mal’s kingdom. The foolishness and treachery of the Bhau now dried up this inexhaustible source. So it is no wonder that the Marathas had to fight on an empty stomach at Panipat. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 81]

Raja Suraj Mal’s position was so conspicuous and his attitude so important that even his neutrality was considered by both parties as worth securing. He could not be persuaded to join the Maratha again. He thanked his priest Rupram for his recent escape. The vigilant Abdali at once seized this opportunity to make an attempt to win over Suraj Mal. He knew that it was more easy for him to beat the Maratha army than to capture the Jat strongholds, and that his enemies could not be decisively crushed till they had been deprived of such an impregnable base of operations as country of Suraj Mal. He had several times tried without success to detach the Jat Raja from the Marathas. He now opened the fresh negotiations with the Jat Raja, through Nawab Shuja-ud-daula. Raja Devi Dutt, Ali Beg (of Georgia), and others came, on behalf of Shuja-ud-daula to the Jat for negotiating the terms of a compromise. The Jat agreed to it, wore the "khilat" sent by Shuja-ud-daula and the Shah, and exchanged oaths. The practical result of this treaty was to ensure only the neutrality of Raja Suraj Mal, but not his active assistance on the Afghan side. In spite of the harsh treatment of the Bhau, the sympathy of Suraj Mal continued to be with the Marathas. He entered into this alliance with the Abdali only to provide against an emergency, and because complete isolation was too dangerous for any state in then prevailing political condition of India. K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 82]

Suraj Mal entertains Maratha refugees from Panipat

After the fearful wreck of the magnificent Maratha army at in third Battle of Panipat (14 January 1761), the survivors fled southwards. In their hour of misfortune, the very peasants stripped them of their arms, property and clothes. Naked and destitute the Maratha soldiers entered the country of the Jats, who welcomed them to their hospitable doors and provided medicine, clothes and food for their relief. If Suraj Mal had not forgotten the wrongs done to him by the Marathas, and befriended them in their hour of adversity, very few of them would have crossed the Narmada to tell the woeful tale of Panipat to the Peshwa. And this he did at the imminent risk of incurring the enmity of the Abdali staking his life and fortune at the impulse of a pious and noble sentiment which would have done honour to the stoutest heart of Rajputana in her heroic days. All Muslim writers [Imad, p. 203] , [Bayan-o-Waqa, MS. p. 293] extol the generosity of Suraj Mal: The Maratha writers also acknowledge this. At Mathura they entered the territory of the Jats. Suraj Mal, impelled by the Hindu religious sentiment sent out his troops to protect them, and relieved their distress in every way by distributing food and clothes to them. At Bharatpur was the Jat queen Maharani Kishori, who showed much charity to the fugitives. Thirty to forty thousand men were fed here for eight days; the Brahmans being given milk, peda, and other sweetmeats. For eight days all were entertained in great comfort. A proclamation was made to the citizens that quarters and food were to be given to the fugitives in the manner most convenient to each. None was to be put to trouble. In this way the Jat spent altogether ten Lakhs of Rupees. Many men were thus saved. K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 83] Shamsher Bahadur came wounded to the fort of Kumher; Suraj Mal tended him with the utmost care; but he died in grief for the Bhao. [Sardesai, Panipat Prakaran, p. 205] . After relieving their distress, and pacifying their hearts, Suraj Mal gave one Rupee in cash, a piece of cloth and one seer of grain to every ordinary man (common soldier and camp followers), and sent them to Gwalior [Bayan, MS 293] ,

Abdali's campaign against Jats

The Marathas were defeated by Afghan armies at the Third Battle of Panipat and a hundred thousand Maratha survivors reached Suraj Mal's territory while returning south, sans arms, sans clothes and sans food. Maharaja Suraj Mal and Maharani Kishori received them with tender warmth and hospitality, giving free rations to every Maratha solder or camp follower. The wounded were taken care of till they were fit to travel. Thus, Maharaja Suraj Mal spent no less than three million rupees on their sick and wounded guests.

After the defeat of Marathas in war with Ahmad Shah Abdali, the treatment given to the Marathas by Bharatpur state angered Abdali. Abdali demanded Rs. One crore from Suraj Mal as a penalty for helping his enemies. Suraj Mal was not ready to give this huge amount to Abdali and make him more powerful, so he decided to have war with Abdali.

On 2 February 1760, Abdali moved to Bharatpur against Suraj Mal and seized Deeg fort on 2 February 1760. Suraj Mal played a trick. One group of Maratha forces was sent to Rewari, another towards Bahadurgarh and third group of Jat force was sent towards Aligarh. Jat Army looted Aligarh on 17 March 1760 and destroyed its fort. Abdali was forced to remove the capture of Deeg Fort. He followed Marathas through Mewat. Holkar had also become friendly to Suraj Mal. Holkar was defeated at Sikandra and came to Bharatpur for refuse. [Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934, 2nd edition 1992, Page-664 ]

Capture of Agra Fort (12 June 1761)

Agra was the richest town during those. Maharaja Suraj Mal decided to capture Agra fort to re-establish his influence in doab region. On 3 may 1761 the Jat army of Suraj Mal with 4000 Jat soldiers reached Agra under the command of Balram and gave the message of Maharaja Suraj Mal to the kiledar (incharge) of Agra fort that the army wants to cross Jamuna and needs camping place. The kiledar gave the sanction for camping. Meanwhile the Jat army started entering the fort, which was resisted by the guards in which 200 people died. Jat army started war from Jamamasjid. During this period Maharaja Suraj Mal stayed at Mathura to observe the situations. On 24 May 1761 Maharaja Suraj Mal along with Imād and Gangadhar Tantya moved from Mathura, crossed Jamuna and reached Aligarh. From Aligarh his army moved and captured the areas of Jat ruler koīl and Jalesar. They reached Agra to help his army at Agra in the first week of June. Maharaja Suraj Mal arrested the family members of the guards staying in Agra town and pressurized the guards of fort for surrender. At last the kiledar agreed to surrender by receiving a bribe of Rs 1 lakh and jagir of five villages. Thus after a seize of one month Maharaja Suraj Mal captured Agra Fort on 12 June 1761 and it remained in the possession of Bharatpur rulers till 1774. [Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Pages 197-200]

After Maharaja Suraj Mal, Maharaja Jawahar Singh, Maharaja Ratan Singh and Maharaja Kehri Singh (minor) under regidentship of Maharaja Nawal Singh ruled over Agra Fort. There is a haveli in the name Maharaja Nawal Singh in Agra Fort and also a Chhatri of Maharaja Jawahar Singh built in rightside of Khasmahal near the Chhatri of Rosanara-Jahanara. [Agra Gazeteer 1884, page 620] , [Jatbandhu Agra, 25 January 2005]

Suraj Mal’s conquest of Haryana

The third battle of Panipat was followed by a comparative calm – a quiet of exhaustion; Northern India at least ceased for some time to be the battle-field of the Afghan and the Maratha. Panipat had only shattered the extravagant dream of the Marathas but brought no permanent peace to Islam. The moment the Maratha was overthrown, the Jat came in and challenged her victorious champion who, weary and exhausted, shrank from the contest and retired beyond the Indus. The stubborn Jat courage revived confidence in the prostrated Hindu mind, and Islam was again thrown on the defensive. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 85]

Suraj Mal wanted to seize these few moments of his enemies respite for carrying out his twofold object which he had long in view; first to interpose a solid block of a Jat confederacy between the Abdali and the Ruhelas, extending from Ravi to the Jamuna; secondly to expel Najib-ud-daula from Delhi, restore his protégé the ex-wazir Ghazi-ud-din to his former position and power, and control the policy of empire through him. But he decided not to attack Delhi first but simply cover it during his contemplated campaign. He sought the expansion of his dominion in the tract of Haryana dominated by powerful Muslim jagirdars and the districts around Delhi, mainly inhabited by the Jats. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 86]

Suraj Mal was active in annexations in the following two years 1762 and 1763. Suraj Mal sent his eldest son Maharaja Jawahar Singh to conquer Haryana while another army was sent under his youngest son Nahar Singh [Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms), 62] , [Qanungo, Jats, 148] to establish his authority in Doab, and watch the movement of the eastern Ruhela chiefs.

The Jat attack on Farrukhnagar

Towards the end of 1763, arose a quarrel between the Jats and the Baloch. The expansionist ambitions of the former and the latter’s unfriendly policy towards the Jats formed the general background of this event. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.249]

Maharaja Jawahar Singh directed his attack upon Farrukhnagar, held by a powerful Baloch chief, Musavi Khan. But he having failed to capture it, Suraj Mal himself came and laid siege to strong fort of Farrukhnagar in October, 1763, with all his forces and big artillery. Two months passed away and Musavi Khan being hard pressed, consented to surrender it if Suraj Mal would take an oath on the Ganges water not to hinder his departure. [Wendel, p. 49] , [Waqa, p.198] But the Jat on this occasion made the same unscrupulous use of the sanctity of the Ganges as that of the Quran by some Muslim rulers. The Baloch chief was made a prisoner and sent to Bharatpur. Thus, after a siege of two months, the fort of Farrukhnagar, along with all its effects came in the Jat possession on about 12 December 1763. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.250]

Garhi Harsaru, Rewari and Rohtak had already fallen into the hands of Suraj Mal. He now turned his arms against Bahadurgarh, about 12 kos to the west of Delhi, the strong-hold of another powerful Baloch chief Bahadur Khan. In his distress, the Baloch chief appealed for help to Najib-ud-daula, who however judged it inexpedient to provoke a war with Suraj Mal, before the arrival of the Abdali. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 87]

By the year 1763, the Jat power under Suraj Mal had reached such a glorious height, as had never been attained before. [Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms), 49 and 67] , G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.248] Owner of a spacious kingdom, of the richest and overflowing treasury, [Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms), 64 ff, especially 66] and of the most formidable and gallant troops unrivalled in contemporary India, [Nur, 66b] , Siyar, IV, 28] , as Suraj Mal was, little wonder that needy persons like Mir Qasim of Bengal, turned their eyes for help to him.

Fight between Suraj Mal and Najib (December, 1763)

The Baloch incident, in turn, precipitated a clash between Suraj Mal and Najib-ud-daula, both of whom looked with an evil eye at each other. The allies of Najib had succumbed to the Jat stratagem only two days before he could reach Delhi (14 December 1763). [Sarkar, Fall, II, 449] Najib, dreading the tremendous strength of his foe, attempted to placate him more than once. But Suraj Mal was so much annoyed with his conduct that all his efforts proved to be of no avail. [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.) 61] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.251]

The mediators sent by Ruhela chief failed to pacify him. The couriers came back disgusted to Najib on 23 December 1763.Delhi Chronicle] Suraj Mal, leaving Jawahar Singh with a strong garrison at Farrukhnagar, crossed the Yamuna south of Delhi and stayed on the west bank and burnt the villages in neighbourhood of Ghaziabad. Thereafter the Jats returned south of Delhi. The Ruhela chief, on getting this news, marched out of Delhi with his forces and stood in garden of Khizrabad within four miles (6 km) of the Jat troops. But he repaired to the city without engaging them in a battle. Meanwhile, Suraj Mal, detaching his baggage, again crossed Yamuna and encamped on the other side. [Nur, 66a-66b] , [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 61] making a last minute desperate bid, Najib sent his agents with a present of two pieces of beautiful Multan chintz and a message to Suraj Mal expressing his superiority but a request to go back. This appeal failed to calm down the exasperated Jat Raja who sent a challenging reply on 24 December 1763. The die was caste now. Najib-ud-daula, taking Gulab Singh Gujar, Sayyid Muhammad Khan Baloch (Siyyidu), Afzal Khan, Zaibita Khan and all his troops, less than 10000 in number, crossed the Yamuna two hours before dawn and took post on the west bank of the Hindan, convert|10|mi|km south-east of Delhi. Suraj Mal with his army of at least 25000 strong and heavy artillery pulled up opposition to them. Several small engagements occurred in which the Jats displayed their superiority. Cannonading was also resorted to between the two sides which lasted till 3 pm. Thereafter, Suraj Mal tried to surround his foes from three sides, deploying 5000 men to Najib’s rear. About sunset (the same day i.e. Sunday, 25 December 1763), Suraj Mal while watching the movements of the troops with small retinue, was killed by Siyyidu and his men who most probably lay in ambush for him. As usually happens in such cases, the leaderless Jats, overwhelmed with shock decamped the same night (25-26 December 1763), thereby conceding to Najib-ud-daula “a victory which no one had expected,” The Jesuit observer aptly says that Najib and his men “were victorious without knowing it.” , [Siyar,IV,29 and 33] , [Majma-ul-Akhbar, in Elliot, VIII, 363] , [Scott, Dekkan, II, 246] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.253]

Death of Suraj Mal

Maharaja Suraj Mal died on 25 December 1763 in war with Najib-ud-dola. At the time of his death Maraja Suraj Mal's Empire included Agra, Dholpur, Mainpuri, Hathras, Aligarh, Etah, Meerut, Rohtak, Farrukhnagar, Mewat, Rewari, Gurgaon and Mathura. He was succeeded to the throne by his son, Maharaja Jawahar Singh.

Documents and tradition by no means agree as to the manner of Suraj Mal’s death. Father Wendel, writing within five years of this incident, says,: “One day Suraj Mal getting news that a large body of the enemy was coming to pounce upon Nahar Singh ( his son and destined successor), who was in that expedition, marched in haste with a few thousand horsemen, to succour him. Unfortunately, in passing through a ditch (mullah) which the river Hindan had left there, he was surprised on both sides by a party of Ruhela infantry – who had been placed in ambush there. By a furious discharge of their muskets ... on the Jats still in disorder, they brought down Suraj Mal with all his retinue who lay there on the plain either slain or wounded“ French MS., p. 50]

Suraj Mal died on Sunday 25 December 1763 and the event was recorded in the Waqa only two days after its occurrence, i.e. Tuesday. Besides those quoted in the text it contains the following details: :“ Sayyad Muhammad Khan Baloch cut off the head and hand from the body of the Jat, and brought and kept with himself for two days. After that these were taken to the presence of Nawab Najib-ud-daula. Then only could he believe that Suraj Mal was dead.”

Qanungo has put a question mark on Suraj Mal’s falling into an ambush as father Wendel has said. He has suggested that it is quite likely that the surprise of the reconnoitring party under Suraj Mal by Najib Khan’s retreating troopes was taken as an ambuscade. But the versions of the father and the author of the Siyar do not tally with that of the Bayan and Waqa-i-Shah Alam Sani. The Bayan says that Suraj Mal led six thousand troops to attack; and according to the Waqa 1000 men died on both sides and Suraj Mal met his death in a rash charge upon enemy’s centre. [K.R. Qunungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 202-205]

Love for art and literature

Maharaja Suraj Mal was a great lover of arts and literature. He had patronized a number of poets in his darbar, the famous ones were Sūdan, Somnath, Akhairaj, Shivram, Kalanidhi, Vrindavandas, Sudhakar, Harvansh etc.

Sūdan was the main court poet of Maharaja Suraj Mal. He was Mathur by caste resident of Mathura and a favourite of the Maharaja. He had accompanied the Maharaja during all important wars and has written historical account in the book named 'Sujān Charitra'.

Somnath alias Shashinath, resident of village Chhichhora near Mathura, had created books namely "Sujān Vilās, Brajendra Vinod, Mādhav Vinod, Dhruv Vinod, Shashināth Vinod, Prem Pachisi, Nawabon Vilās, Sangrām Darpan, Rash Piyush Nidhi, Shrangār Vilās, Rāmcharit Ratnākar Rāmkalādhar, Krishna Lilāwati" etc under the guidance of Maharaja Suraj Mal. He had appointed Somnath as "dānādhyaksha" of the state. Poets Somnath and Kalanidhi translated entire Ramayana in to Hindi. On request of Suraj Mal, Somnath translated 'singhāsan batisi' to 'Sujān Vilās' and later on he wrote all books for Suraj Mal only.Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 234]

Poet Shivrām remained with Suraj Mal from youth period at Kumher and Suraj Mal awarded him Rs. 36000 on his poetry "Navadhā bhakti rāgras sār" written in year 1735, when Suraj Mal was staying at Kumher. Poet Somnath and Kalanidhi had gone to Wair at that time when Suraj Mal's younger brother Pratap Singh was staying there. Somnath went to Suaj Mal at Deeg after death of Pratap Singh and Kalanidhi stayed at Wair. Both these poets translated entire Ramayana to Hindi at Wair. Kalanidhi, in addition to Hindi translation of three volumes of Ramayana (Bālakānd, Yudhakānd and Uttarkānda), also books like Upanishadsār, Durgā Mahātmya, Rāmagitam, Shrangar Mādhuri and Alankār Kalānidhi.

Poet Akhai Ram wrote three books namely-Singhāsan Batisi, Vikram Vilās and Sujān Vilās for Suraj Mal. First book was published in 1755.Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982, Page 235]

Uday Ram produced two books namely- "Girivar Vilās" and "Sujān Samvat". He has described in "Girivar Vilās" about the first "dīpdan" ceremony of Suraj Mal in Manasi Ganga River, where he seems to be present himself. "Sujān Samvat" is collection of historical informations of Suraj Mal like "Sujān Charitra".

Poet Datta's book 'Maharaja Suraj Mal ki krapan' is a unique book of Vīrsāhitya. Mahākavi Dev also came to Bharatpur for patronage. He was there when Deeg fort was being constructed and it is likely that he made 'Sujān Vinod' for Suraj Mal. [Bharat Vir, 29 March 1927]

Vrandavandas was also the poet who got patronage of Suraj Mal. in 1756 he was there at the time of attack by Abdali and has described about this severe attack. He wrote the book 'Hari Kalā Veli'.

Character and achievements of Suraj Mal

Personality of Suraj Mal

In appearance Suraj Mal was taller than usual and robust, of a rather dark complexion and quite fat. He had extremely twinkling and awe-inspiring eyes. His whole physiognomy showed more of fire than what was noticeable in his conduct which was amiable, gentle, generous and considerate. , [Dirgh (Hindi Ms.), 4-6] , [Madhav Vinod in Somnath, 318] , [Siyar,IV,27] , G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.278] He was a loving husband, a doting father, affectionate brother and an obedient son. Though he had several Queens, he was not given debauchery and dissipation. His noble act of honourable returning the Maratha ladies captured in raid on Holkar (1754), may show that he always preserved the modesty of women folk.

The way Suraj Mal unflinchingly stood besides Safdar Jang till the end is indicative of his devotion to his friends, while his treatment of Imad, Muhkam and Holkar suggests his heroic magnanimity towards his bitterest foes – Musavi khan being the lone exception in this regard. Like his father, Suraj Mal did not forget the good done to his own family by Jai Singh of Jaipur. Thus, in spite of his fabulous wealth and great strength, he continued to show his respect to Jaipur ruler, Raja Madho Singh, till the collusion with Najib apparently made him suspect his motives.G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.280]

So great and persistent was the popular trust in his benevolence and humane outlook that multitudinous people along with their valuables and families sought protection in his state in the face of recurrent threats. On one occasion (in 1760), the compassionate Jat spent as much as 10 lakhs of rupees from his pocket in looking after Maratha refugees.

Suraj Mal, in spite of the change of his former condition and the immense wealth he piled up had not at all given up the primitive simplicity of his race in what concerned his own mode of living. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 92]

Shah Waliullah depicts him as a fanatic and blames him for persecuting Islam and prohibiting “azanand salat” throughout the length and breadth of his domain. [Shah,2] Though true to some extent in the case of his successor, [Qanungo, Jats, 220-221] this view seems to be largely overdrawn and unjust in the case of Suraj Mal. By temperament, he was incapable of such a fanatic conduct. A great centre of Hindu worship, Brij, especially Mathura, had suffered repeated persecution, including the one (1757) in the lifetime of Suraj Mal. Yet, in spite of the deep pangs that this incident caused in his heart, Suraj Mal, even when at the height of his power, did not demolish a single mosque in Mathura and had to bear Bhau’s stinging remarks on that score. [Imad, (Pers.Ms.) 120-121] Far from being vindictive, Suraj Mal displayed a great catholicity by constructing a mosque in his own capital in the memory of Shamsher Bahadur, who was half brother of Peshwa and reached Jat State after defeat in Panipat in 1761. [Supra, ch. XII, f.n. 65] We do not know if any other Hindu prince of the time could boast of it. It is noteworthy, in this context, that Muslims also formed a part of his personal attendants, who stood by their master and laid down their lives for him. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.256]

A great builder

Suraj Mal was a great builder and according to Wendel, spent not lakhs but crores on his magnificent edifices, such as, the truly royal and superb palace of Deeg and gorgeous fort of Bharatpur, both incomparable in Hindustan. [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 44] He is credited with building several tanks, arbours and temples in Govardhan, Mathura, Vrindavan and other religious places. Besides, he spent lakhs of rupees in charitable deeds. Numerous religious deeds were performed by them at different places in Brij. Giriraj Govardhan’s importance increased under them and several artistic chhatris were built there along with other buildings. [Muttra Gaz (Alld/1911, 201] ,

On the one hand, he carried choicest pieces of the Mughal grandeur from Agra to adorn his court and on the other his wealth and will galvanized the un-provided for architects of the impoverished Court of Delhi to the new home of art. Besides, on his forts Suraj Mal spent crores of rupees embellishing Deeg, Bharatpur, Wair and Kumher with enchanting buildings, ponds and gardens. [Tawarikh-i-hunud (Pers. Ms.) 22a] , [Dirgh (Hindi Ms.), 1-2] , [Qanungo, Jats, 287] The author of Imad tells us that some of the buildings were so magnificent that the kind of these could not be found anywhere-not even in Delhi and Agra. [Imad, (Pers. Ms.) 85] Crowning all these was architecturally sumptuous and superb palace of Deeg, which had been planned and constructed by Suraj Mal on such a gorgeous scale that the work on it did not end even by 1768. A widely traveled eye witness testifies:

:“It is difficult to realize the expanse and magnificence of this palace without seeing it… I have seen none in Hindustan that would surpass it in magnificence, or even would come near to it.” [Memoires des Jats, (Fr. Ms.0,44] , Dirgh (Hindi Ms.), 1] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.261]

Military talents and administration

Born in a martial community, Suraj Mal was gifted with a variety of military talents, which vigorously supported his character in his many engagements. No danger wavered his courage and resolutions as no success filled him with presumption or vanity. He was a gallant soldier, an excellent tactician and a great captain, as his great adversary Najib-ud-Daula himself admitted. [Nur, 64b] With signs of boldness visible at the very dawn of his career (early thirties), his military fame spread gradually far and wide and even the greatest in the land sought his powerful support. Along with bravery and courage he combined shrewdness, tact and calculation. He displayed a remarkable sense of realism, both in war and politics. He never acted on sudden impulse and set his hand to a task only after great deliberation.G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.281]

At the time of death, the standing army under him consisted of 15000 cavalry, 25000 infantry and 300 pieces of cannons. Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 67] He also possessed 60 elephants and 5000 horses in his stables. [Ibid, p.55] Apart from it, considering the number of his forts, the garrison posted in them must not have been less than 25000 soldiers, equipped with long and short range cannons and munition.

The author of Siyar says, Suraj Mal had in his stable twelve thousand horses, mounted by so many picked man, amongst whom on horseback and then wheeling round in order to load under shelter, and these men had by continual and daily practice become so expeditious and so dangerous marksmen, and withal so expert in their evolutions, that there were no troops in India and could pretend to face them in the field. Nor was it thought possible to wage war against such a prince with any prospect of advantage., [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 97]

The Jat King had a vision to appreciate the innate susceptibilities of his Jat brethren. He presumably knew that it was difficult, if not impossible, for them to shed abruptly or wholly their deep-rooted democratic instinct and sentiments of individual and tribal independence. Therefore he wisely refrained from an abrupt recourse to a despotic system of the Mughal type. Qanungo rightly points out that the Jat government as it stood at Suraj Mal’s death still corresponded to a feudal confederacy with the Jat King as the supreme head. [Qanungo, Jats, 221] , G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.259]

Several changes were effected in the land administration obtaining under Akbar. The pargana of Sahar was split into four parts – Sahar, Shergarh, Kosi and Shahpur. Mangotala was divided into Sonkh and Sonsa. Frah and possibly Mursan, Sahpau and Mant were made parganas about this time. Similar changes were made in several other districts of the kingdom. [Raghubir Singh, Brij., p-192-193] , G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 282]

Full details of the administrative set-up of Suraj Mal are not available. Below the King, who was the fountain head was probably the most powerful grandee, Balram Jat (his brother-in-law), who held the post of Chief Minister. Sarkar, Fall, II,469] , [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.) 45 fn,68] Jiwa Ram held the office of Diwan. [Tawarikh-i-Hunud (Pers.Ms.),26a] Somnath was the "Danadhyaksha" (the head of the charity department). The management of the army seems to have been entrusted to several officers, each heading a sub-department. We know the names of two officers, Balram and Mohan Ram, who headed the cavalry and the artillery respectively. Balram was also the faujdar of the capital. [Nur., 77a] , [Qanungo, Jats, 172] , This leads us to believe that there were other faujdars as well. This apart, the posts of Mantri, Bakshi, Kotwal and Qiladar referred to in Sujan Charitra must have continued during the reign of Suraj Mal as well.

Apart from the strongest band of troops, a network of fairly strong (three of them being impregnable) forts studded with beautiful buildings, richest treasures and a political system commensurate with the Jat instincts and traditions, the “Jat Plato” Suraj Mal handed down a Kingdom “well cultivated, peaceful and out of danger of being suddenly attacked…” ,

Diplomacy of Suraj Mal

Endowed with a cool calculating vision, a profound sense of foresight and an exemplary shrewdness, Suraj Mal’s genius shone forth in the field of diplomacy. Prof. Hari Ram Gupta calls him “the shrewdest diplomat of the time.” [Panipat, 153] He displayed great adroitness in handling men and matters. Amidst the moments of greatest trial, he exhibited a commendable presence of mind and endurance. In an atmosphere of intrigue and unscrupulous diplomacy, he equally baffled the dissembling Mughal and cunning Marathas, [Qanungo, Jats, 65] as also the crafty Abdali and subtle Rajputs. His was a most precarious position indeed for he stood between the two most formidable and hostile powers, the Abdali on the north and the encroaching Marathas on the south. His fabulous treasure was the perennial object of their greed, while his expansionist course and independent existence in the neighbourhood justly annoyed both the Mughals and the Rajputs. In addition, the influential forces of Islamic renaissance were also deadly opposed to him. More than once had the Abdali and Marathas endeavoured to ruin him. Even normally, a potential threat from their side always stared Suraj Mal in his face. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.257-258]

In such circumstances, the survival of the Jat kingdom itself was a Herculean task. But Suraj Mal mainly by his marvelous diplomatic suppleness; ‘peculiar’ wisdom and heroic fortitude, not only succeeded in thwarting all his enemies but also in increasing his fortunes in face of successive crises. Wendel says that Suraj Mal had the guts to save himself from the Maratha-Durrani exactions when others were being squeezed, to protect his territory against the redoubled Abdali while a number of powerful grandees could not help draining out their own resources by joining him (the Abdali), to ensure peace amidst the prevailing trouble which had engulfed his neighbours, to strengthen his power while others were losing to disentangle himself from the Marathas whose discomfiture he had clearly foreseen, to turn Abdali without a recourse and in a word to become more powerful amidst the common decay. The Jesuit father aptly concludes,

:“I do not know anyone else in Hindustan who could do the same.” [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.) 54]

That was Suraj Mal, the master diplomat of the period. No doubt, Najib-ud-Daula also possessed great diplomatic tact and political sagacity. But main difference between the two lies in the fact that Najib had the powerful patronage of his deliverer, Ahmad Shah Abdali, whereas Suraj Mal solely on his own outwitted both Abdali and the Marathas at one and the same time. In addition, Suraj Mal guaranteed to his kingdom a progress which Najib could not. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 258]

Suraj Mal was an ambitious and powerful man; but his ambition was tempered with caution and self control. Gifted with an instinctive sagacity and strong sense of realism, Suraj Mal fully gasped the realities of the situation and then set his heart upon what was attainable in the field of war and administration. He could perceive the hazards of undue entanglement in far flung areas; so he scrupulously confined his activities to the nearby ethnic Jat areas only. Keeping an eye on the instincts and traditions of his people and combining persuasion with force, he proceeded cautiously to make them acquiesce in the institution of Kingship. Matrimonial relations with important families, grant of appanages to members of the royal family and lands to the other Jat grandees, and the suppression of recalcitrant chiefs, may be appreciated in this light. These Jagirdars remitted revenue to the State Treasury and helped the Raja in the defence of the realm. The stormy situation in northern India, which engrossed Suraj Mal’s attention and his untimely death interrupted the process initiated by him. [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.281-282]

So long as he was alive Suraj Mal commanded the love, respect and admiration of people. Now even though more than two centuries have elapsed since his death, his memory is still alive and green in the heart of his people, who assemble every year (in a fair) at his "Samadhi" at Shahdara to pay their homage to the great Jat hero.

Raja Suraj Mal was endowed with all the qualities of a good ruler …. And succeeded by his government in vastly increasing his tenantry and treasure. [Tawarikh-i-hunud (Pers. Ms.) 20a-20b] This was predominantly the result of the patient toil of that Raja. By the time of his death, the Jat State had grown to convert|200|mi|km in length (east-west0 and convert|140|mi|km in breadth (nort-south), covering a part of the suba of Delhi and three fourths of that of Agra. The Jat Kingdom consisted of the districts of Agra, Mathura, Dholpur, Aligarh, Bulandshahar, parts of Mainpuri, Meerut and Rohtak, Gurgaon and Rewari, besides the original principality of Bharatpur.

The revenue of Jat State

In consequence of his prudence, skill and administrative ability and the measure of protection guaranteed by him, “peaceful” conditions returned to region under his control after a long period of chaos and anarchy. He attended “so admirably … to the job of zamindar, in increasing the value of the country he had subdued, that his expenses so well that for several years he used to save at least half the annual yield of his dominions, despite the big amounts spent on forts, palaces and markets. [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 57,67] ,

As regards the finance of the state, Father Wendel says, “opinions differ on the subject of the treasure and property which he (Suraj Mal) left to his successor. Some estimate it as nine crores, others less. [K.R. Qanungo, History of the Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p. 96] This does not include jewels and other valuables worth a handsome amount. However, according to popular belief the cash in hand with him ranged between 15 to 20 crores.

The trade and commerce also thrived owing to the direct and indirect encouragement offered by the administration, Suraj Mal remitted transit duties through his Kingdom. As a result grain became exceedingly cheap. [Nur, 83b] Similar must have been the case with other commodities. If Suraj Mal constructed royal edifices, he did not forget to order the building of markets. If Imad is to be believed, in Deeg and other places, he built thousands of shops to facilitate the traders [Imad, (Pers. Ms.) 84] , Such steps and the peace guaranteed by his benign rule amidst prevailing anarchy attracted the merchants from the outside to the Jat kingdom. Wendel hardly exaggerates in saying:

:“ I admit willingly that the Jats are rich, that if even today there is any treasure in Hindustan, after all damages caused by Nadir Shah, the Abdali and the Marathas, it is amongst the Jats.” [Memoires des Jats, (Fr.Ms.), 66] , [G.C.Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003, p.260]

ee also

*The Jat Uprising of 1669
*The rise of Jat power
*Jats in the pre-Aurangzeb period


Further reading

*History of the Jats: Contribution to the History of Northern India (Up to the Death of Mirza Najaf Khan, 1782) /Kalika Ranjan Qanungo
*Maharaja Suraj Mal: K. Natwar Singh
*Maharaja Suraj Mal And His Era (Hindi): Dr. P. C. Chandawat []

*Jat-Itihas(Hindi): Dr Natthan Singh

External links

* [ Genealogy of the ruling chiefs of Bharatpur]

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