« السابقةمتابعة »
to her instructions and gained a complete victory over his adversary at the decisive battle of Ramchandrapore, a mile east of Thaway. The image of Durga was found in the forest of Thaway, which was an old fortress, in accordance with the dream dreamt by the Maharaja, under a singular and peculiar tree which still exists within the temple compound and whose leaves some years ago were sent to the Society for identification. It is reported that one of the feet of the Goddess had sunk to a fathomless depth and the other is out resting on a figure of a lion. The Maharajas of Hutwa have raised a splendid temple for the Goddess and built a palace for their residence as they often resort there for worshipping the Goddess. Food "Bali" for jackals is still offered in the jungles. A big fair is held there in the month of Chait.
To ascertain more correctly the date of Maharaj Jubraj Shabi, Bahadur, we should make the date of Maharaja Fateh Shahi, which is very well-known and authentic, our locus standi, because only three generations intervened between him and Maharaja Fateh Shahi who had raised the standard of rebellion against the British Government in 1767 A.D. By the examination of the genealogical tree of the Hutwa Raj family, it appears that the two Maharajas, the 96th and the 97th, who succeeded Maharaja Jubraj Shahi, Bahadur, had only an ephemeral existence, and Maharaja Chait Shahi, Bahadur, the eldest son of Jubraj Shahi, dying without any issue and the Raj reverting, in accordance with its time-immemorial Kulācāra, to the eldest male member of the family, Maharaja Kurtal Shahi, Bahadur, a brother of Maharaja Jubraj Shahi, and the 4th son of Maharaja Balbhadra Shahi, Bahadur. So allowing a lapse of 50 years instead of 75 from Jubraj Shahi to Fateh Shahi, the former seems to have lived at about 1719 A.D. This was a period of anarchy and unrest in India. The Great Moghul Empire was doomed. About this time (1719) Farrukhsiyar's life was put an end to, and the Saiyid brothers were carrying on the Government in the name of Muhammad Shah, the emperor elected by them. The Nizam of Hyderabad had become independent, the Marhattas were plundering the Deccan, Malwa, and Guzerat, and every chief in India was trying to raise his head inspired with a spirit of self-agrandisement.
We now come to Maharaja Sirdar Shahi, the immediate predecessor of Maharaja Fateh Shahi. He seems to have lived till 1747. He is said to have invaded the principality of Majhowli, in Gorakhpur, and to have demolished their fortress. It is said that one of the conditions on which
1 The Majhowli Maharajas were of considerable influence during the reign of the Delhi Moghul Emperors. They were called " tilak dhari Rajas, " i.e., empowered to instal other Rajas. It is said that one of the menial servants (a Kahar by caste) of a Maharaja of Majhowli while shampooing the feet of his master had accidentally
Sirdar Shahi had made peace with the Majhowli Raja, was that the latter was not to go about with Nishans (flags), and drums (Dankas), ensigns of Rajaship, until he had retaken these by force from the Husainpur (Hutwa) Rajas; and that the Majbowli chiefs, though they are still known as Rajas, yet go about conforming to the conditions of this, as they deem it, ignominious treaty. These Nishans and Dankas of Majhowli are said to be still in possession of the Tumcohi Rajas, the elder branch of the Hutwa Raj family, residing in Gorakhpur District. This must have been during the total fall of the Delhi Empire which ensued after the invasion and departure of Nadir Shah. The Marhattas were the masters of the whole Deccan and commenced depredation in Bengal and Behar exacting Chauth under the leadership of Raghuji Bhonsli ; Malwa and Guzerat had separated from the Empire; the Sikhs were powerful in Punjab and the Rohillas were virtually independent. In short the Emperor was Emperor of India only in name, and the local chiefs fought with each other with impunity.
Next we come to a period of which we have authentic records which well supply an omission of events yet unrecorded by any historian of Warren Hastings' administration. Even Burke with all his mastery of details in his 'Impeachment' was not cognisant of the State of Behar at that time. The 99th of the line was Maharaja Fateh Shahi Bahadur, who, as we have already stated, was a rebel against the British Government in 1767. His lot was cast in troubled and eventful times. The Mahomedan power was fast waning, and the English Government had not yet been firmly established in the land. The last of the Moghuls, Shah Alam II, by repeated invasions, did more to unsettle the affairs of Behar than to gain any advantage for himself. He had been incited to these attempts, by some of the chief zemindars, amongst others, Balvant Singh of Benares, a relation and friend of Fateh Shahi's family. Mir Kasim's attempt at uprooting the British power had signally failed, and
fallen on his feet dozing, and his forehead touched the Maharaja's toe. a Raja now and I will give you a Raj,” exclaimed the Maharaja, and promised that the distance he would carry him in sleep in a Palki would be his Raj. The Palkibearers went round a considerable portion of the Maharaja's estate, who was only awakened by the cries of his honest men alarmed to see the Maharaja's doom. The portion thus got by the Palki-bearers now forms the Perdowna Estate in Gorakhpur, and although the Roy Sahebs of Perdowna (the decendants of the recipient of the grant) are bigger Zemindars in the district than the present Maharaja himself, they attend on the Majhowli Maharaja on the Dasehra day with Hathar chilinchi to exhibit their loyalty.
The high position then held by the Majhowli chief must have been one of envy to Maharaja Sirdar Sahi, and to humiliate the former must have been the latter's ambition.
J. I. 24
the East India Company obtained the Dewani of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa. The administration of affairs in Behar was vested in a joint council of Europeans and natives, and when at the end of the year 1767, the Revenue Collector of Sircar Saran demanded rents on behalf of the Company, Fateh Shahi not only refused to pay them but gave fight to the Company's troops who were sent against him in consequence, and it was with much difficulty that these troops succeeded in expelling him from Husainpur. The revenue of the district of Husainpur was then farmed out to one Govind Ram; but Fateh Shahi, who had retired into the jungles bordering on the then independent dominions of the Vizier of Oudh and the province of Behar, watched every opportunity of making raids into the district, to plunder the villages and stop the collection of revenue. The unsettled state of the country, his easy access to the territories of an independent prince, where British troops were unable to pursue him and where a part of his zemindari was situated, the impenetrable jungles which surrounded the place, Pargana Jogini, to which he had removed his family residence (the present Tumcohi) from Husainpur, the collusion of the amils of the Vizier of Oudh, and above all the attachment of the subjects to their expelled Raja and their dislike of a Government farmer,-all contributed to favour his designs, and he kept the country around in a constant state of terror and the British authorities constantly on the alert. In 1772, the year just preceding Warren Hastings' appointment to the Governor-Generalship of the Indian possessions of the Company, in one of these raids, Govind Ram, the Government farmer, was put to death, and the revenue collection came to a stand-still. The Collector of Sircar Saran, which included the former district of Husainpur, finding that the rents could not be collected so long as Fateh Shahi remained in that situation, recommended that he should be induced to come in on the promise of an allowance being granted him by Government. Govind Ram's murder was forgiven on Fateh Shahi's solemnly denying any knowledge of the transaction, and the Collector's recommendation on his behalf was acceded to. Fateh Shahi then came to Patna, and on an allowance being fixed for his maintenance promised to live quietly with his family at Husainpur, which was then under the charge of one Mir Jumla,1 who was styled Superintendent of Government Revenue; and the Husainpur Raj Estates, after being kept under direct management for a year, were let out in farm to Babu Basant Shahi, cousin of Maharaja Fateh Shahi, on the security of the unfortunate Raja Chait Singh of Benares. But the turbulent disposition of Fateh Shahi did not long allow him to remain in this condition of quietude. Within two months he withdrew again from the
1 This is evidently a mistake for Mir Jamāl; see page 210.-Ed.
country and commenced anew his career as a border freebooter. Constant complaints now began to be received at the Central Board of Patna, from the officers entrusted with the collections, of the various depredations committed by Fateh Shahi; and in the beginning of May, 1775, the Provincial Council, which then had taken the place of the Central Board, received information that both Babu Basant Shahi and Mir Jumla had been killed by him in a night-attack which he had made on them at a place called Jadopur on the bank of the Gandak. It is said that Fateh Shahi was at the jungle of Charkhia on the opposite side of the river Khauwa, bordering on the district of Gorakhpur, when he had received information that Babu Basant Shahi was collecting rent at Jadopur which was about 22 miles from his abode. Fateh Shahi started at once with one thousand horsemen and three hundred matchlock men, and marching the whole night reached his enemy's abode early in the morning of the next day and surrounded it. Two legends are current regarding the murder of Babu Basant Shahi. One is that Fateh Shahi had implored Basant Shahi to join his side against the English, which proposal Basant Shahi had stubbornly refused on the ground that he had pledged not to be disloyal to the English. Thereupon Fateh Shahi challenged Basant Shahi to a duel in which the latter was killed. The other is that Fateh Shahi, after overtaking Basant Shahi, was overpowered with a feeling of fraternal affection and was retreating, when he was questioned by one of his menial servants, Gopal Bari, and a kinsmanfollower, why he let off Basant Shahi after getting him within his hold with so much trouble. To this the Maharaja is said to have abusively
Was he your son-in-law
replied, "I let him off because he was my cousin.
that you let him off?" Thus incited, these two men at once rushed upon Basant Shahi and beheaded him. The place where he was beheaded, once a garden, is still called Muḍkataya Bag, and the peepul tree under which this atrocious act was committed, is yet worshipped by the Maharajas of Hutwa, who directly owe their origin to Basant Shahi. Maharaja Fateh Shahi then sent the head of the deceased to his wife at Husainpur, who with her husband's head on her lap ascended the funeral pyre followed by 13 of her maid-servants, uttering at the same time an everlasting curse to her progeny who would ever have any connection whatsoever with Fateh Shahi's family-a mandate still strictly adhered to by the Maharajas of Hutwa, who when passing through the Tamcohi (Fateh Shahi's) Raj do not even drink water or take any food belonging to the place. Under the shadowy grove of an ancient Banian tree in the fort of Husainpur there exist 14 Stupas wherein are enshrined the ashes of these 14 Satīs who are worshipped annually and every time the Maharajas and Maharanis of Hutwa visit the place.
The news of the murder of Babu Basant Shahi and Mir Jumla having been reported to the authorities, two companies of Sepoys under Lieutenant Erskine, the 16th Battalion of Bengal Sepoys, who were then at a short distance, immediatly set out in pursuit, but Fateh Shahi conducted his movement with such celerity that he had fled to his retreat of Jogini jungle with his booty before any information of his movements was received. Fateh Shahi had under him now a trained body of horsemen and matchlock men, and his followers had been swollen by the addition of Fakirs and banditti. The whole country was brought under contribution by him, and Lieutenant Erskine expressed an opinion to the provincial council at Patna, that unless a body of troops were to follow and drive him out of the Jogini jungles, Fateh Shahi would prove a pest to the inhabitants around, and that there was so many entrances to this jungle that it would take at least a battalion of Sepoys to block them up and pursue the rebel with any prospect of success. The provincial council of Patua recommended in their letter, dated 14th June, 1775, to the Hon'ble Warren Hastings, GovernorGeneral and Council of Revenue, that as Fateh Shahi had taken possession in the dominions of Nawab Asafuddaula of Oudh, and as it was not practicable to seize his person without the assistance of the Nawab's faujdars in the Gorakhpur District, the Nawab should be written to through Mr. Bristow, the then British resident at the Court of Oudh, to render such assistance. Accordingly the Governor-General and Council wrote to the Nawab of Oudh and Mr. Bristow that the person found to be concerned in the murder might be apprehended. But though there was a seeming compliance with this request, nothing appears to have been definitely done for the arrest of Fateh Shahi. Lieutenant Hardinge then stationed at Baragaon (3 miles from the present Hutwa) was sent in pursuit with a body of Sepoys of the 5th battalion. His instructions were to co-operate with Syed Mahomed, the Faujdar of Gorakhpur, for the arrest of Fateh Shahi, and on no account to act as principal. Lieutenant Hardinge and his detachment remained. for seven days in Syed Mahomed's camp in hourly expectation of coming into close quarters with the rebel, and when Hardinge persuaded the Syed to march within a hundred and fifty yards of the rebel entrenchments, thinking that an effort to seize the rebel would then be inevitable, Syed Mahomed's troops stopped short, and would not advance a yard towards the jungle. At this juncture, Hardinge received a message from the Syed telling him that the attack would be deferred till the next morning. It was afterwards found that Syed Mahomed was then engaged in settling his revenue matters with the rebel and Lieutenant Hardinge, thinking that his instructions were to assist in the