(Modern Indian History) Indian States Which Came up During This Period PART - 2
PUNJAB – SIKH
Founded at the end of 15th century by the first Sikh Guru (Guru Nanak), Sikh religion spread amongst Jat peasants and Lower castes of Punjab. Sikhs became a military fighting group under the 6th Guru – Guru Hargobind (1604-1645). It was however under the leadership of 10th Guru Gobind Singh that Sikhs Became a military and political Force. Therefore since 1699, Guru Gobind Singh waged continuous wars against Aurangzeb in which he lost all his family.
After Guru Gobind Singh’s death, the institution of Guruship came to an end. However , the last Guru passed on the leadership to his trusted disciple Banda Singh, who was more widely known as Banda Bahadur. He rallied together the peasants and lower castes from Delhi to Lahore to wages an unequal struggle against Mughals. Finally Banda was killed in 1715.
The failure of the struggle against Mughals was attributed to two reasons:
1. Inability to woo the upper castes and zamindars as they still remained loyal to Mughals.
2. Inability to include followers of all religions in the struggle.
After this Punjab continued to be ruled by Mughals till Nadir Shah and Abdali plundered India. The political vacuum created by the loss of leadership after death of Aurangzeb and also after Nadir Shah’s and Abdali’s raids gave Sikhs the time to rise again. Between 1765 and 1800, Sikhs acquired Punjab and Jammu. They were organized into 12 Misls (confederacies). These Misls supported each other in every way.
Features of Ranjit Singh’s Rule
1. Land revenue was kept unchanged as promulgated by Mughals.
2. A powerful army was created and recruitment was not only for Sikhs but also Gurkhas, Biharis, Oriyas, Pathans and Dogras Without any Religious bias.
3. Modern foundries were setup to manufacture cannons at Lahore.
4. It is claimed by some that Ranjit Singh had the best army, second only to the British.
5. The minister were chosen irrespective of their religion and in accordance to their capabilities.
6. All religions were given equal status under Ranjit Singh’s rule. In fact it can be stated that his political power was not used exclusively for Sikh benefit.
ROHILKHAND – BANGASH PATHANS AND ROHILLAS
Spotting an opportunity due to the anarchy following the death of Aurangzeb, Muhammad Khan Bangash, an Afghan adventurer, established his control over a territory around Farrukhabad, between what are now Aligarh and Kanpur. This happened during the reign of Farrukhsiyar and Muhammad Shah. Similarly during the breakdown of administration following the invasion by Nadir Shah, Muhammad khan carved out a separate principality, known as Rohilkhand at the foothills of Himalaya between Ganga in south and Kumaon Hills in the north with its first capital at Aolan in Bareilly and later at Rampur. The Rohillas clashed constantly with Awadh, Delhi and Jats.
The Rise of Peshwaship : Balaji Vishwanath (1712 – 1719)
To establish Shahu’s claim to power, Balaji Vishwanath played a huge role. He proved useful in suppressing Shahu’s enemies. He excelled at diplomacy and won over major Sardar to Shahu’Cause. Thus Shahu came to power. Shahu named balaji the Peshwa or Mukh Pradhan (Chief Minister) in 1713. Balaji consolidated Shahu’s rule except for the region south to Kolhapur which was still ruled by descendants of Raja Ram. Peshwa consolidated power and reduced the status of Sardars. In Fact, he and his son, Baji Rao-I together made Peshwaship hereditary and de-facto head of the state.
In 1719, Balaji Vishwanath accompanied Sayyid Hussain Ali to Delhi to overthrow Farrukhsiyar. While staying in Delhi, he witnessed the weakness of the Mughal Empire and thus was filled with the ambition of expansion of his reign in the North. Although this initiated an efficient collection system, it also increased the autonomy of Sardars, which proved fatal in the long run. Sardars started to establish their control in the distant lands of the Mughal Empire where they gradually settled down as more or less autonomous chiefs. Thus the conquests outside the core Maratha kingdom was made by the Sardars and, in between, they would also clash with one another for more control. Such was the autonomy of these Sardars that in case a central authority intervened they would not hesitate to join hands with enemies like British, Mughals or Nizam against the central authority.
Baji Rao I (1719 – 1740)
Balaji Vishwanath died in 1720 and was succeeded by his son- Baji Rao I. Inspite of being young Baji Rao was a bold and a brilliant commander, and equally ambitious and a clever statesman. Under his reign, the Marathas constantly waged numerous wars against the Mughals and compelled them to first grant Chauth rights of various territories and then finally ceding these territories to the Marathas.
Balaji Bajirao (Nana Saheb) (1740-1761)
Baji Rao I’s 18 Year old son Balaji Bajirao (known as Nana Saheb) was the Peshwa from 1740 to 1761. He was able but less energetic in comparison to his father. King Shahu died in 1749 and left the control of administration in the hands of Peshwa. The office of Peshwa was already hereditary and the de-facto head of the Maratha state but now it also become the de-jure ruler of the state.
The two forces met in 1761 at Panipat. This was the third battle of Panipat. The first two battles were:
- 1526 – Between Mughal Babur and the Lodi ruler of Delhi Sultanate, Ibrahim Lodi. It resulted in the victory of Mughals and the foundation of Mughal Empire in India.
- 1556 – Between Akbar and the Hindu ruler of Delhi, Hemu (or Hem Chandra Vikramaditya) resulting in Mughal victory.
Madhav Rao (1761 – 1772)
Madhav Rao, the 17 year old son of Balaji Bajirao became Peshwa in 1761. As he was a talented and great statesman he recovered the lost reputation of Marathas in just 11 years. He also forced the Nizam and Haider Ali to pay tributes to him. He restored his dominance in the central India by subjugating Rajputs, Rohilas and Jats. In 1771, the Marathas brought back Emperor Shah Alam to the thorne of Delhi, who now became their pensioner. Thus it seemed that Maratha ascendency in the north had been recovered.
Narayan Rao (1772 – 1773) and Raghunath Rao (1773 – 1774)
But the sudden death of Madhav Rao brought the Empire in a state of confusion. This led to a power struggle between Raghunath Rao (the younger brother of Balaji Bajirao) and Narayan Rao (the younger brother of Madhav Rao. Later, Narayan Rao was murdered in 1773 which led to Raghunath Rao getting the seat of Peshwa from 1773 to 1774. But Madhav Rao II (or Sawai Madhav Rao), the posthumous son of Narayan Rao was considered the legal heir, and was brought to power as Peshwa by the treaty of Salbai in 1782. Out of frustration, Raghunath Rao went over to the British and tried to capture power with their help.
Sawai Madhav Rao (1774 – 1795)
The defection of Raghunath Rao to the British camp led to the first Anglo- Maratha war. This period was fraught with internal struggles among the Marathas similar to those which had led to the downfall of the Mughal Empire. Peshwa’s power in this era was now on the wane. There was a constant intrigue between the supporters of Sawai Madhav Rao headed by Nana Phadnavis (an influential minister and statesman who was called ‘Maratha Machiavelli’ by Europeans) and partisans of Raghunath Rao.
Baji Rao II (1795-1818)
Sawai Madhav Rao died in 1795. He was succeeded by baji Rao-II, son of Raghunath Rao. By this time, the British had put a check on the dominance of the Marathas in India. The British very cleverly divided the Maratha Sardars. They then overpowered them through the 2nd Maratha war and 3rd Maratha war in 1803-05 & 1816-19 respectively. The Maratha states were permitted to remain as subsidiary states and the office of Peshwa was extinguished. Thus, the Maratha dream to control the Mughal Empire and establish a great Maratha Empire in the vast areas of India was not realized. This was basically because the Maratha Empire represented the same structures and faults as Mughals.