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Sawai Jai Singh

Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur, Mughals and Marathas

Sawai Jai Singh (1700 –1743 A.D.) easily finds a place among the three preeminent Kachhawaha rulers of Amber, the other two being Raja Man Singh, who figures so prominently during the reigns of Akbar and Jahangir and Mirza Raja Jai Singh, one of the most conspicuous and influential noble during the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, although he had become the ruler of Amber during the reign of Jahangir in 1622 A.D. The students of Medieval India are familiar with the singular achievements of these tow rulers in the fields of administration, war, diplomacy and patronage to art, architecture and literature.

Jai Singh and Aurangzeb
Sawai Jai Singh was son of Raja Bishan Singh, great – grand – son of Maharaja Ram Singh (son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh). He was born in 1688 A.D., and after his father’s death in 1699 A.D. at Kohat in

Sawai Jai Singh, Sawai Jai Singh Jaipur

the north – west, ascended the gaddi of Amber on 23 January 1700 A.D. at the time of his enthronement, he was awarded a mansab of 1500/1200. Jai Singh witnessed advent or exit of Seven Mughal Emperors, including Aurangzeb. After his accession, he was appointed in the Deccan against the Marathas. He waited upon the Emperor then in the South, in October 1701, and was posted under Prince Bidar Bakht, son of Prince Azam Shah who was supposed to be a strong contestant for the throne, whenever the long and ruinous reign of Emperor Aurangzeb would end. After Shivaji’s escape from Agra in 1666 A.D., Aurangzeb’s attitude towards the rulers of Amber had never been favourable. However, on account of Jai Singh’s excellent services in the capture of Konkana fort of the Marathas, an increase of 500 was made in his mansab. During 1703 –06, the remained with Bidar Bakht in Khandesh and Malwa. In 1705, Bidar Bakht secured appointment of Jai Singh as his naib or deputy in Malwa of which he was the Governor. In 1706, Bidar Bakht was appointed as subahadar as of Gujarat and the governorship of Malwa was conferred upon Amanulla Khan. It seems from the subsequent events the Jai Singh continued to remain in Mal and joined Bidar Bakht, then proceeding towards Gwalior via Ujjain to participate in the war of succession following Aurangzeb’s death on February 10, 1707. As Jai Singh had been close to Bidar Bakht, he took part in the battle of Jajau (8th June 1707), fought near Agra on the side of Bidar Bakhat and his father Azam against Shah Alam (later Emperor Bahadur Shah) who had come to known of his father’s death near Peshawar.

Jai Singh and Emperor Bahadur Shah; defies the Mughal authority
Shah Alam or Bhahdur Shah, after his victory, declared that all those nobles who had taken Azam’s side in the war of succession would be pardoned and accordingly Zulfiqar Khan was again appointed as Mir Bakshi and his father Asad Khan, though not made Wazir again, was appointed Wakil – I – Mutlaq, a higher though less influential post. Thus the Irani group was placated, and in the same manner the Turani nables were appointed on high posts. Ghazi – ud din Khan, who was the most prominent noble in the Turani group (which had mostly remained neutral in the war of succession) was given the subah of Gujarat. But in case of Amber and Kota, a different policy was adopted, probably on the advice of Munim Khan, the new Wazir, who had no experience of large policy matters. As Jai Singh wrote to Maharana Amar Singh II of Mewar, Amber was being taken into Khalisa for his taking Azam’s side. His protest that Amber had remained the Watan of the Kachhawa has for centuries and never before such an order had been passed, was ignored by the Mughal government on the ground that there was a dispute for Amber between Jai Singh and his brother Bijai Singh (who had fought on the side of Bahadur Shah in the recent war of succession), and hence the Kachhawaha capital was being resumed. This was not correct as Jai Singh had been ruling at Amber since 1700 A.D. and Bijai Singh had till now never contested his brother as right. To the Rajputs it must have appeared that the Mughal government was trying to extend its Marwar policy adopted by it after 1679 i.e. following Maharaja Jaswant Singh’s death, in case of Amber also. The developments in Rajputana and the contemporary letters preserved in the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, reveal the real motives of Bahadur Shah and his chief adviser, the wazir Munim Khan. Bhimsen, a contemporary historian, writes that the object of taking the Rajput states into Kalisa was to acquire more land to ease to some extent the problem of scarcity of land required for granting tankhwah jagirs or what has been termed as the jagirdari crisis. The fact that Bahadur Shah refused to restore Jodhpur to Ajit Singh, posthumous son of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, in 1708 i.e. even after about 34 years of that ruler’s death shows that the Mughal government wanted to do away with its commitment not to touch the Watan (jagirs) of the Rajput rulers, so as to bring them in line with the other nobles who could not advance any hereditary claim. The uncompromising stand of Aurangzeb had led to Mughal - Marwar war in 1679, which was still continuing and his son and successor Bahadur Shah, though much more moderate and practical than his father, now caused it to spread over a major part of Rajputana during 1708 – 10. The Rajputs, with the decisive support of Mewar and moral support to Chhatrasal Bundela and even Shuhu to whom Jai Singh had written letters seeking their co – operation and charging the Mughal government of being anti – Hindu and for reversing the wise policy of Emperor Akbar, expelled the Mughal garrisons from Amber and Jodhpur and put to rout the Mughal garrison from Amber and Jodhpur and put to rout the Mughal troops every where, till Emperor Bahadur Shah, after having successfully dealt with his brother Kambaksh, felt obliged to accept the Rajput demands unconditionally, when returning from the Deccan on way to Punjab to deal with the Sikh resistance under Banda Bahadur. This happened on 11th June 1710, when Jai Singh and Ajit Singh waited upon the Emperor during the march (and not in his camp) near Ajmer. Though repeatedly summoned to join duty in the war against the Sikhs, they did not go to Sadhora, After Bahadur Shah’s death at Lahore in February 1712, Jai Singh and Ajit Singh came on the central stage of politics of the Mughal Empire. By not applying his policy of what Prof. Satish Chandra calls a pardon and conciliation towards the Rajpts from the very beginning of his reign, Bahadur Shah further damaged the delicately balanced relationship between the Rajput rulers and Mughal government which had already suffered grievous blows at the hands of Aurangzeb, Henceforth reciprocity and the blind loyalty was to be the basis of relationship between the Rajput rulers and the Mughal government.

It is from the time of Jahandar Shah who succeeded Bahadur Shah in March 1712 that Jai Singh and other Rajput rulers began to be wooed by the Mughal Emperors by being offered high mansabs and governorships. Another war of succession following the one at Lahore was in the offing. Jai Singh and Ajit Singh were given mansabs of 7000/7000, and, as Farrukhsiyar, nephew of the Emperor, advanced from Patna, governorship of Malwas and Gujarat were conferred upon the two rulers. When Farrukhsiyar became Emperor in January 1713, he reconfirmed the grant of governorship of Malwa to Jai Singh, who also officially received the title of Sawai for the first time.

Jai Singh & Relations with the Marathas

We may now take up in greater detail Jai Singh’s relations with the Marathas. As noted that Jai Singh, soon after his enthronement, had been posted in the Deccan where he distinguished himself in the capture of Khelna fort of the Marathas, for which service Aurangzeb had increased his mansab by 500. Till Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, Jai Singh, now 18 years old, remained active in the operations against the Marathas and in keeping Malwa safe from their incursions, as Prince Bidar Bakhfs deputy. But when Jai Singh was waging a war against the Mughal Government during 1708 –10 A.D., in co – operation with Mewar and Ajit Singh, he had written to Shahu to support Kam Baksh against emperor Bahadur Shah and to entangle him in the Deccan, a task which, he wrote, even Maratha sardars had successfully done in case of Aurangzeb. Again in 1711 A.D., it was feared that Bahadur Shah, now free from the Sikh campaign, might visit Rajputana again. Jai Singh, as a contemporary letter shows, wrote to Durgadas Rathore to call the Marathas in the north so that Emperor’s designs against the Rajputas might get frustrated. The letters to Shahu and others show that Jai Singh and other Rajput rulers were appreciative of the Maratha resistance against the Mughals and were prepared to seek their help whenever they themselves were facing threat from the Mughal government. However, the Rajputs knew it well that Maratha presence in Malwa and Gujarat would, in the long run, endanger their own safety, and obstruct their desire to extend their influence in Malwa and Gujarat, if the crumbling Mughal Empire gave them an opportunity to do so. As the subsequent developments show, Jai Singh along with Mewar and Jodhpur rulers always remained averse to the prospects of Malwa and Gujarat, if the crumbling Mughal empire gave them an opportunity to do so. As the subsequent developments show, Jai Singh along with Mewar and Jodhpur rulers always remained averse to the prospects of Malwa and Gujarat coming under the domination of the Marathas and the time was to prove them right. Jai Singh therefore, was opposed to the Maratha demand to levy chauth from Malwa and Gujarat.

Though incursions in Malwa had begun even during Aurangzeb’s period, after 1711 A.D. these became more serious in intensity and more frequent in occurrence. During his first governorship of Malwa (1715 - 17), Jai Singh vigorously campaigned against the Marathas and inflicted a crushing defeat upon them at Pulsed. He was, however, recalled (October 1716) to lead campaign against Churaman Jat and the charge of Malwa was given to Muhammad Amin Khan. The Marathas had already secured from Zulfiqar Khan, who was given the charge of Deccan suba by Bahadur Shah in 1708, the right to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi in the Deccan. They obtained its official ratification when Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath accompanied Hussain Ali to Delhi in late 1718, shortly before the deposition of Farrukhsiyar. When Baji rao succeeded his father to Peswaship in 1720 at the age of 19, he advocated a vigorous policy of Maratha expansion in the North. In 1724, the Marathas create trouble on the borders of Kota Bundi and the following year they carried out depredation in Mewar on a large scale. Maharana Sangram Singh II of Mewar even wrote to Jai Singh that if measures were not taken to restrain the Marathas, chaos and disorder would soon spread throughout northern India. Sawai Jai Singh and Maharana took several steps to contain the growing Maratha threat. As we learn from a letter of Nizam to Jai Singh, they even approved the idea to support Shambhaji of Kolhapur against Chhatrapati Shahu and to win over some of Shahu’s nobles in favour of Kolhapur. Jai Singh, however, never put much faith in Nizam. On his own, he wrote to each and every ruler of Rajputana to set out with their armies the moment they learnt or the arrival of the Marathas in Mewar, Rampura etc. Jai Sinhg’s letters and in some cases their draft (Draft Kharitas) are preserved in the Rajasthan State Archives and also letters which show that his move was welcomed by the Rajput states.

Jai –Singh Peace Negotiations

At the same time, Jai Singh was too far – sighted a statesman to miss the hard realities of the situation. He knew that Auranghzeb had totally failed to crush the Marathas or dampen their spirit, despite campaigning against them for nearly half a century, and throwing in all he could for this purpose during the last 25 years of his reign. The spectacular Maratha victories in Malwa at Palkhed (Feb.1728) and Amjhera in November 1728 further showed that any military solution to the Maratha problem would be futile attempt. But even before these two resounding victories over the Nizam and the Raja Girdhar Bahadur, the Governor of Malwa, Jai Singh had sent Joshi Shambhu Ram to Satara promising to secure for Chhatrapati Shohu jagirs of 10 lacs of rupees each in subahs Malwa and Gujarat. The Maratha demand of chauth from these provinces came to nearly 50 lacs of rupees. Jai Singh also conveyed the assurance that he would obtain suitable mansabs for some of the Maratha sardars who should then serve the Mughal government on such conditions as would be worked out. Jai Singh kept the Emperor informed of his offer. In return for these concessions, Shahu was to ensure that no disturbances were created by the Marathas in these subahs . But in that very year, Sarbuland Khan, the governor of Gujarat, unable to resist the Maratha pressure, conceded the Maratha demand of chauth from Gujarat and soon the province passed into their hands.

Jai Singh’s Second Governorship of Malwa

Jai Singh was appointed to Malwa after the defeat and death of Raja Girdhar Bahadur in the battle of Amjhera in November 1728 at the hands of Peshwa’s brother, Chimnaji Appa. Girdhar Bahadur, like other members of a powerful group of nobles which included Wazir Qamruddin Khan, Saadat Khan and Muhammad Khan Bangash, was totally against any peace or compromise with the Marathas. A brave and upright soldier, Girdhar Bahadur’s defeat and death shortly after Nizamas humiliating defeat at Palkhed, strengthen the hands of Jai Singh and Mir Bakshi Khan-I-Dauran who favored some kind of settlement with the Marathas within the framework of the Mughal empire. This was the time when the Nizam in the Deccan, Alivardi Khan in Bihar and Bengal and Bangash in subah Allahabad were trying to carve out their independent principalities. It was apparent that the Mughal eippire was crumbling. Jai Singh hoped that by granting appropriate mansabs and jagirs to the Marathas, he would be able to win them over. In February 1730, Chhatrapati Shahu accepted Jai Singh’s offer to secure a jagir worth ten lacs of rupees in Malwa for his adopted son Kushal Singh. The Marathas restored Mandu to Jai Singh, which they had recently captured. After his agreement Jai Singh remained in Malwa for some time and then returned to Amber.



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