Nawab Saadat Khan

(Detailed Notes : This may not be very good in terms of language, but gives enough sketch for the purpose of research. This text may be using some vernacular terms too, which may be otherwise hard to understand in context but we will be happy to assist in this regard)

Nawab Saadat KhanThe Subah of Oudh at that period of time was distinct from Rohilkhand, the Rohilla country, and city & province of Agra that remained Mughal capital for long. There were separate Fauzdars for Allahabad and Gorakhpur. Emperor Bahadur Shah, son of Alamgir Aurangzeb emerging victorious after the war of succession appointed Chin Qilich Khan as Subedar of Oudh and Fauzdar of Gorakhpur on 9th Dec. 1707. It has already been explained that Saiyyads dominated Lucknow city and enriched the skyline by building structures that still stand. Many Sayyaids exhibited loyalty on many occasions by participating in the wars against Mughal enemies or wars of succession for throne when called for. Mir Mushrif, a Lakhnau Sayyid with his brave troops of 4000 horsemen joined the forces of Farrukhsiyar in the war of succession when that Prince was stationed at Azimabad or modern Patna. Emperor Farrukhsiyar appointed Sarbuland Khan, (his uncle by marriage) as Governor of Oudh in 1713. During the same year, Farrukhsiyar appointed Khanjahan son of Khanjahan Bahadur Kokaltash Alamgiri to the province of Allahabad. Emperor Jahandar Shah gave the charge of Oudh to Chabila Ram in order to placate him. Raja Chhabila Ram and his nephew Mahta Girdhar Lall always commanded influence in the Allahabad and Qudh region. During the war of succession, Chhabila Ram used to give advance of Rs.15, 000 a day to Farrukhsiyar. He and his nephew Girdhar Lall joined the forces of Farrukhsiyar at Bindki (near modern Kanpur). Later Raja Chhabila Ram was given the charge of Agra province; the place of his birth, Sam-ud-Daulah Khan Dauran however replaced him soon. Those were difficult times for any upright person to serve. Even sustained and dedicated service to the Mughal Crown did not mean much. Appointments, promotions and transfers were done either by the power of money or by the advice of some caucus who always thought of their interest as paramount and interest of the state as secondary. Survival was possible only by the crafty and powerful persons who had access to resources in terms of money and military.

Rise of Saadat Khan

The young Mohd. Amin arrived in Hindoostan and Delhi along with his father and brother. Belonging to Naishapur of Khorason province of Persia, the family of Saiyyads was a respectable one. Saiyyads aredescendants of brother in law of Prophet Mohammad and Shia Muslims always considered him (Hazrat Ai Imam) as the lawful successor of the Prophet but was denied his right. The Court of Delhi had strong lobby of Persian group, Tooranis and Hindustanis that consisted of Hindu Rajahs also. Mughals and Tooranis joined together. Persians though smaller in number dominated the Mughal Court from the beginning, as they were learned people and good in administration. A relation of influential Ganj Ali Khan lately deceased; the young Saadat Khan came in the notice of Saiyyads brothers and soon gained political ascendancy. He was appointed on October 6th 1719 as Fauzdar of Hindaun and Biana weeks before the march of younger Sayyid started for Dakshin. Saadat Khan was also designated as Commander of Imperial Vanguard. However the Command was later taken away from him and given to Haider Quli Khan. The invisible hand of Rajah Ratan Chand was behind this change over. Story of alienation of Rajah Ratan Chand had to do with a person named Mir Zumla Tarkhan. Zumla was appointed to the post of Supdt. Of Endowments (Sadar- us- Sadur) but his appointment was being delayed by Rajah Ratan Chand who was then a hot favorite of Senior Saiyyad Brother. Mir Zumla approached Saadat Khan for the help. Saadat Khan requested Hussain Ali Khan to intervene in the matter. Raja Ratan Chand did not like this behavior of Saadat Khan and immediately brought this in the notice of Abdullah the Senior Saiyyad brother. The result was that the royal vanguard command was immediately taken away from Saadat and handed over to Haider Quli Khan The name of Rajah Ratan Chand again appears in the context of Oudh when he entered in agreement with Rajah Girdhar Bahadur to vacate the fort of Allahabad and take up the governorship of the province of Oudh on May 3, 1720.

At this juncture of time, Delhi was passing through anxious moments. There was no time for a show down between the Saiyyads Brothers and the leaders of Tooran is and Mughal groups. The latter had the backing of Emperor. The Senior Saiyyad Brother Abdullah decided to stay at Delhi and the younger Hussain Ali Khan started for Dakshin to teach Nizam a lesson. Saadat Khan was in full attendance when the army including the Royal Entourage passed through his fauzdari region of Hindaun and Biana. The time was month of October in 1720 when the winter just set in. Saadat made a great show by parading his troops daily before Hussain Ali Khan. Saadat wanted more money in cash as well as grant of more jagir area to keep up the troops in shape. Hussain Ali Khan was pleased with the conduct of Saadat and granted him the favors he asked for. Saadat was a Saiyyad, a Shia Muslim and a native of Persia, What more the Saiyyad Brothers could have asked in a man to trust him and favour him? Alas most of the times as the old proverb goes, ‘All that glitters is not gold’ proved true in this case too. Another Saiyyad betrayed the trust of a Saiyyad. Saadat Khan joined the group of conspirators to plan the murder of younger Saiyyad Brother during his Dakshin (south) march. This change in behavior of Saadat Khan is attributed to a trifle matter that arose during the march and caught the attention of Mir Bakshi. Whatever other attributes of the man might be but Hussain Ali Khan was a just man and listened to the poor and oppressed people. It so happened that a poor villager approached the Mir Bakshi that the only means of his living had been taken away by the persons of the Fauzdar. A millk buffalo of the man was perhaps forcibly taken away and no effort was made by the Fauzdar to do the justice in the case. Hussain Ali called the Agent of the Fauzdar present in the durbar and threatened him and his Master with dire consequences if the agreement receipt of the aggrieved person was not produced with in a time frame. The poor villager, not that simple person, took the full advantage of the situation and finally agreed to give the receipt after he was given fifty buffaloes in lieu of the one taken away from him. Saadat Khan was unhappy because he was conveyed the threat through his agent. This incident was outwardly a simple looking one but had deeper and serious consequences for the poor Hussain Ali.

The conspiracy was unfolded and Saadat was enjoined to the inner circle after the Royal Entourage passed the city of Fatehpur Sikri built by Akbar. During nightfall after the jujbar was over, Saadat came to the tent of Mohd. Amin Khan who was the leader of the inner circle. After brief exchanges, it was decided that attempt would be made on the life of Hussain Ali during the next day march.

Hovever it so happened that Hussain Ali Khan rode on the elephant that day and therefore earlier planned assassination bid could not be carried out. Finally the dte of October 8th, 1720 arrived and the sun shone in the sky with brilliant red in the morning. The Imperial forces and the Royal entourage pitched at a place 9.6 Kms (6 miles) east of Toda Bhim. After the usual morning briefing of the Emperor, the younger Sayyiad took leave and prepared to mount his litter. The Chief Conspirator, Mohd Amin Khan and collaborator Saadat Khan were also present at that moment. As preplanned, Mohd. Amin Khan spat blood from the mouth and feigning illness, fell down on the ground. The younger Saiyyad alighted from bis litter and rushed to the aid of Amin. Hussain Ali ordered Amin to be carried to the tent of Mir Atish Haider Quli Khan that was the nearest one for further rest and treatment. As Hussain Ali Khan again prepared to ride the litter, a person named Haider Beg Dughlat came rushing, shouting & waving a paper sheet in his hands, and pushed aside the bodyguards. Hussain Ali Khan ordered the bearers of his litter to stop and personally took the paper thrust in his hands by Dughlat and continued to read the contents of the paper. Dughlat waiting for this opportunity took out the dagger and thrust in the body of Hussain Ali. Dughlat was given a powerful kick by Hussain Ali and he fell down but rose again, and holding one leg of Hussain pulled him down from the litter. Dughlat now rode on Hussain Ali and tried hard to severe the neck from the body. The bodyguards ran away. A younger nephew of Ali was at a distance and saw the happening. He immediately shot dead Duglat but was cut to pieces by the men of Amin Khan.

Saadat and Amin Khan were silent observers so far but now got in to action. Saadat losing no time captured Saiyyad Ghulam Ali Khan, a cousin of younger Saiyyad and Wazir. Mohd. Amin Khan stood guard infront of the tent of Emperor and using his men stopped Islan Quli a slave and some other gunners who wanted to enter and slay the Emperor. Later Saadat secured and confined these men of Saiyyad Brothers. Covering his head by a shawl, Saadat now rushed to the harem of the Emperor and dragged him towards the elephant of Qamar-ud-Din. Forcing the Emperor to mount the elephant with Mohd.Amin and Buland Bakht following, they rode to a safer place. Immediately a war Council was held and attended by Saadat Khan, Qamar-ud-Din and his son Haider Quli Khan and was presided by Mohd, Amin. Orders were issued to all the leading Emirs and leaders of the various groups to assemble and join the fight against the Saiyyads. No response was forthcoming as Leaders thought it wise to follow wait and watch policy. The morale of Saiyyad’s men was at lowest ebb at the news of the assassination of their leader and they gave up the fight after some initial resistance. The Emperor’s men celebrated the event. Saadat Khan was rewarded immediately by elevating him to the rank of 5000 zat. Saadat was also given the charge of the province of Akbarabad (Agra) and was again promoted to 6000 zat. The Afghan Leaders were also not left behind. Muhammad Khan Bangash and Aziz Khan Bahadur Chagatai rode from Akbarabad to meet the Emperor in his return march to Delhi. Aziz Khan was granted some part of the Sarkar Khizrabad and some of Sarkar Lakhnau both came under the Subah Oudh.

The Imperial army was now preparing to meet the challenge of senior Saiyyad brother Abdulah. The Senior Brother was not at all ignorant of the happenings in the Imperial Camp and remonstrated to the Emperor. Abdullah was now left with no choice except to fight for his honor as he could no longer rely on the treacherous conduct of the Emperor and betrayal by his own men likes of Saadat, Saiyyads went the Saadat way. One Sibghat Ullah Khan alias Shaikhu joined forces of Abdullah with seventy of his chieftains drawn from the Saiyyads of Lakhnau Shaikhu rode majestically on his elephant well aware of the fate awaiting him and his followers in the battle. The Saiyyads of Lakhnau were well prepared to renoy the debt of Saiyyad’s Brothers.

The fate of Senior Abdullah was decided on 14h Nov.1720, in the battle fought at Hasanpur not far off from Delhi. It was the second day of the battle, The troops of ungrateful Saadat Khan along with the troops of Muhammad Khan Bangash and other Leaders surrounded the ex-Wazir Abdullah riding on his elephant howdah. Ex-Wazir was hit on his forehead by an arrow and was badly wounded. Haider Quli Khan on hearing the plight of Ex-Wazir galloped in the field and begged Abdullah to stop the fight and surrender to the Emperor. After much thought Abdullah gave up. With this the episode of Saiyyads Brothers closed in the Mughal Court at Delhi.

A grand Durbar was held on Nov.25th, 1720 and the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah conferred awards and honors to those who sided with the Emperor in the ensuing power struggle. Nawab Saadat Khan, the Faujdar of Biana was made the provincial Governor of Akbarabad (Agra). Rajah Girdhar Bahadur a nephew of Chabela Ram was made the Governor of Oudh. Saadat Khan remained Governor of Akbarabad where he received Nizam-ul-Mulk in the middle of January 1722. Nizam was marching to Delhi on his being called upon to assume the office of Wazir after the death of Mohd. Amin. The Governor of Akbarabad was soon called by the Imperial Authority to subdue the revolt of Rajah Ajit Singh of Jodhpur who was appointed Governor of Ahmedabad by the late Saiyyad Brothers and was unwilling to relinquish his charge in the changed political scenario. Saadat Ali Khan was granted money from the Imperial treasury for mobilization of the forces. Saadat Khan however failed to persuade the Nobles of the Court to proceed against the Jodhpur Rajah. Churaman Jat also did his best to prevent Saadat Khan to take the punitive action against the Jodhpur Rajah. Jats always posed a problem to the Mughals and Mughal Governors and were found not easy to deal with. Nilkanth Nagar a deputy of Saadat was sent to the Jat Country but was ambushed, killed and the Jats looted his belongings along with the belongings of his men. Later Muhkam Singh Jat the eldest son of Churaman Jat released the captured men of Saadat after receiving ransom money. It was humiliating experience and Imperial Court ordered Saadat to proceed to take action against the Jats. Churaman was dead now. Badan Singh was the new claimant of the Jat leadership but was opposed by Muhkam Singh and his men. Saadat took the side of Badan Singh to win over and divide the Jats over the succession issue. However the gameplan did not cut much ice and Saadat Khan could not make much progress in the Jat country due to undulating topography and marshy lands. In the mean time some people in the Imperial Court at Delhi were working furiously against Saadat. The failure of Saadat’s campaign in the Jat country and strong claim put by Jaipur Rajah for the Governorship of Akbarabad made Emperor Muhammad Shah to pause over and make necessary changes in the administrative setup. For the Mughal Emperor it another movement of pawns on the chessboard but without a game plan. In was en Durbar held some times in first week of September 1722, the Mughal eror conferred the Governorship of Akbarabad on Kachwaha Rajah Jai Sigh of Jaipur. Saadat Ali Khan also reached Delhi on that occasion but was refused he Imperial audience and asked to proceed Oudh instead. Saadat was finally civen the charge of Government of Oudh province and simultaneously held the appointment of Fauzdar of Gorakhpur. His robe of investiture was forwarded to Oudh. Rajah Girdhar Bahadur (who held the charge of Oudh so far) was transferred to the Government of Malwa on 9th September 1722.

Saadat Khan now started taking interest openly in the Imperial Court intrigues. He and Nawab Roshan-ud-Daulah were bosom friends and both did not like Muzaffar Khan who enjoyed bounteous companionship of the Emperor, and another person named Samsam-ud-Daulah who happened to be brother of Muzaffar. One day Saadat Khan went to Muzaffar Khan to plead leniency for a Persian who held some office under Muzaffar and there were mistakes found in his official accounts books. Muzaffar made some unfriendly remarks and put one of his hands over the gilded head of the sword. Saadat put his hand holding the fan in a position as if ready to strike the head of Muzaffar. Roshan-ud-Daulah and other officials intervened in the matter and both the high ranking officials were separated. However anger of Muzaffar was not quenched. He recalled his troops and was ready to take action against Roshan-ud-Daulah and Saadat. In the mean time other group also called for the help and Muhammad Khan Bangash arrived on the scene with his troops and artillery. The Emperor came to know the goings in between. Saadat was ordered to go back to Oudh and Muzaffar was dispatched to Ajmer. The event became talk of the time. The Wazir Nizam-ul-Mulk felt disgusted at the behavior of the Emperor and conduct of the high officials of the Court. As much so that Wazir Nizam-ul-Mulk took the decision in October 1733 itself to relinquish the charge and retire to Dakhin.

Saadat in the mean time was involved in another behind the scene activities of Koki Jiu and her mentor Abdul Ghaffur Shah. The so called holy man Shah Ghaffur Khan, Hafiz Khidmatgar Khan and Roshan-ud-Daulah Zafar Khan of Panipat alias Turra-i-Baz were the three chief confidents of Rahim-un-nissa nicknamed Koki Jiu who was Madam foster sister of the Emperor and a palace friend of Queen Mother, Koki Jiu and Shah were people of low origin & mentality but by their antics held great sway over the Emperor so much so he stopped listening to the old time nobles of the Court including the Wazir Nizam-ul-Mulk.  Many courtiers did not like the behavior of Shah. Saadat and Samsam the first Bakshi encouraged two people by the names of Shaikh Muhammad and Mort to bring the charge of embezzlement against Shah when he held the charge Master of the Royal Mint. Next Saaclat and Samsam-ud-Daulah approached the Shah and counseled him not to worry against the embezzlement charge; the Emperor was certainly thinking to pardon him and appoint him to the post of Governor of Thatta (Sindh). Shah felt relieved at the news brought by such high officials of the Court and started putting more airs. Shah became more violent in behavior and brought ruins upon him sooner than later. The Emperor ordered for the recovery of embezzled amount from Shah. The servants of Shah and Shah himself were put to torture and money was recovered from them. In this whole episode, Nizam-ul-Mulk was somehow soft to Shah. We now leave the scene at Delhi and look at Saadat as Governor of Oudh

Subedari of Oudh

It has been narrated earlier that Sheikhjadas ruled the roost in Lucknow. Macchi Bhawan existed at that time and was meant for the stay of rich and Imperial Government officials. The Sheikhjadas considered Macchi Bhawan as their own property and did not allow anyone to enter and stay. They built two more buildings in the vicinity. These two were called Mubarak Mahal and Panch Mahal. Panch Mahal name was given cither the building was five storied high or as some say there were five palaces that existed nearby to each other. The first reason seems to be more plausible. In the immediate south there was a large arched gateway, which was called Sheikhan Darwaza. The Sheikhjadas always kept a naked sword hanging right in the center portion of the Gate. The naked Damascus steel of the sword, out of its sheath, dazzled momentarily and intermittently when sunlight used to fall over it. The whole show was meant to create scare amongst any new comer. However the Damascus steel of the Sheikhjadas could not match the wile and guile of the steel that made up the founder of the Naishapur dynasty. When Burhan-ul-Mulk Saadat Ali Khan arrived in the territory enjoyed by the Sheikhjadas, he was convinced that his task of establishing authority over Sheikhjadas was not that easy. Saadat camped outside. He had thrown a lavish banquet in the night and invited all the Sheikhjadas to attend. When the party was at its prime, Saadat quietly slipped out with his chosen ones and proceeded to remove the sword of authority hung right in the central portion of the big arched gate. With the symbolic authority gone, Sheikhjadas preferred not to resist further the representative of Imperial Authority. Saadat Khan started living in the nearby buildings of Mubarak Mahal and Panch Mahal that were rented from the Sheikhjadas. Saadat dealt sternly with those who dared to challenge his authority. He slew Bhagwant Singh Kichi of Fatehpur after a brief encounter when Bhagwant rose against him. He did not tolerate nonsense from any of his officers or subjects. Land reforms were carried out under his direct supervision. He carried out many measures for the benefit of the farmers, as he well understood the strength and weakness of the major revenue givers. The Subedars of Later Mughals passed through difficult times. There was element of uncertainty everywhere. People were reluctant to pay their dues to the existing authorities, as he change over in the administration was quick and abrupt. Subedars had to exert had to deal sternly with the marauding predators in the countryside. Saadat was with little time for construction of buildings or cities. Still Saadat managed to ld a mud fort in Faizabad near Ajodhya. Some gardens and buildings came up in Lachman Qila area. The Macchi Bhawan rediscovered its name and royal edict of Ashes display. Ismail gunj was established beyond the walk of fort.

Saadat and Baji Rao

Clouds of misfortune were cast heavily over the Mughal Empire. The three principal and senior most Mughal Governors of Dakhin, Oudh and Bengal were working hard to establish and strengthen their hold on carving out their independent territories with least interference from the center. The Emperor was surrounded with mediocre persons devoid of any statesmanship, intelligence, integrity and administrative ability to carry out the normal state functions. The Hindi proverb, jyatha Raja thatha Prajd meaning the subjects of a King are no different than the King himself in conduct and behavior, fitted most in the prevailing scenario. The Emirs were given to the life of pleasure. Revenue collection was at its lowest. The royal lands in and around Delhi were yielding diminishing returns mainly because of corrupt crown officers. The revenue remittances from the Mughal provinces were not being sent regularly and those sent were sometimes looted in the way. Sensing the depraved and chaotic conditions in Delhi, Marathas planned to take the advantage of the situation. Some times during early months of 1732, the Marathas crossed the river Yamuna near Rapri town and invested Shukohabad. However Lal Jiu Khatri officer in command saved the town from destruction by agreeing to pay Rs 1,50,000 in cash and one elephant to the Marathas. Encouraged by this initial success, the Marathas moved swiftly to capture the towns of Firuzabad and Itimadpur both located within 18 kms west of Agra. The news about the military advances of Marathas was communicated to Saadat Khan. By forced marches from Etawah camp, Saadat appeared near Jalesar. His nephew Abul Mansur Khan Safdar Jung was in command of the Oudh advanced guard comprising 12,000 horses. Safdar Jung by his cleverly planned retreat lured the Maratha towards main body of 50,000 strong Oudh cavalry of Saadat Khan. A furious cavalry charge took Marathas forces by surprise and there was complete chaos and confusion resulting in the capture of three Marathas Chiefs and 1000 troops, and drowning of some troops in river Yamuna. Majority of the troops crossed the river safely and saved their lives. This action took place on March 23, 1737. The Marathas regrouped under Malhar Rao Holkar and Baji Rao at Kotila near Gwalior. Baji Rao planned a new move circumventing the surrounding cities of Delhi and making an effort for a direct assault on the city of Delhi. The news of attack on Delhi by Baji Rao sent alarm in the camps of senior military leaders and stalwarts. The Mir Bakshi Samsam-ud-Daulah was present in Mathura with us 25, 000 horses, cannons and elephants. Muhammad Khan Bangash was there with his 12,000 strong Ruhela forces. Saadat Khan too joined the encampment and they were in banquet when news of Baji Rao passing through Fatehpur Sikri towards Delhi was broken to them. Baji Rao’s objective was not to take Delhi but to remind the Mughal Emperor, the might of Marathas. Baji Rao left for his Maratha Country in a huff and soon locked his horns with the Nizam who took shelter in the Bhopal Fort. The actions of December 24 and 25h 1737 saw Malhar Ran Holkar and Jaswant Rao Puar inflicting heavy defeat on the combined Mughal forces of Safdar Jung and Hadah Raja of Kota who were coming to provide succor to the beleaguered Nizam. Safdar Jung had to retreat. On 16 January 1738, Baji Rao forced Nizam to sign a peace treaty on ignominious terms

Nadir Shah in Delhi and death of Saadat Khan

The black clouds of misfortune were gathering over the skies of Delhi. The Hindoostani friends of Nadir Shah, the Persian King, were too eager to see him in Delhi and lost no opportunity to invite him to the country. Before signaling his arrival in Hindoostan, Nadir Shah used all finesse of diplomacy to communicate to the Mughal Emperor of the impending problems before the two countries and resolving these to mutual satisfaction. The Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah was perhaps too busy with his friends, fun and frolics and stayed put the Persian diplomat of Nadir Shah for more than one year without caring to reply. Nadir Shah marched his army through Mughal province of Punjab and camped near Karnal (124 kms west of Delhi). Finally after Nadir Shah left Lahore, the Mughal Emperor came out of his slumber and made preparations to meet the Persians. All the Mughal Provincial Governors were recalled to meet the threat. The aged Nizaam was already present in Delhi at that time. Saadat heeding the call of his Master left Oudh province with 20,000 horses, artillery and other war materials. However it took one month for Saadat to reach Karnal where the Mughal army was waiting for the attack of Nadir Shah. Time was racing against the Mughals and tide was soon to turn in favor of Nadir Shah. Saadat had no information about the exact location of Nadir Shah during his march to Karnal. Saadat arrived in the Mughal Camp on the midnight of 12th of Feb 1738 with his chosen cavalrymen while his baggage train was following him slowly. Khan Dauran greeted Saadat on his arrival to the Camp and escorted him to his tents where Saadat retired for the night. In the morning, Council of War was held in the presence of Emperor Muhammad Shah and details of assault plan were discussed amongst the Mughal Chiefs. While the discussions were going on, news came about the Persians who carried off the baggage train of Saadat that was trailing behind. All this happened near Panipat on the night of 12 Feb. as Nadir Shah had information about the movements of Saadat and his insufficiently protected baggage train consisting of 500 loaded camels and other animals. On hearing the news, Saadat immediately rose up amidst the goings of the meetings and with his drawn sword, vowed to fight Nadir Shah immediately. The Nizam and Khan Dauran counseled him not to start the fight at his hour and for a Mughal Chief of his rank the loss of 500 camels did not matter. As the old Sanskrit proverb goes, ‘Vinaas kale viprit buddbih’which means that when the bad times come the mind also starts working in a negative way. Saadat Khan was not impressed with the advice and ordered his men to advance. The Oudh troops were still resting after a long grueling march and did not expect a fight so early. There was confusion and that resulted only 4000 of his cavalry and 1000 infantry following him in the battlefield. Saadat attacked the right wing of the Persians and he pushed deeper for more than 3 kms. Encouraged by this initial success and not understanding the enemy’s war game plan, Saadat sent messages to the Emperor for urgent reinforcements to annihilate the Persian right wing completely. The Emperor ordered Khan Dauran to help as his 8000 horses and troops were nearer to the right wing position of Saadat Khan. The battle formation on the Mughal’s side consisted of the Mughal Emperor and the Wazir forming the left wing that was lined along the canal and the troops of Khan Dauran formed the center. The position of Saadat Khan was in extreme east and near the river Yamuna. Each of these three divisions was separated by a distance of more than a 1.6 kms and thus leaving huge gaps for the enemy. Soon after midday, the army of Saadat khan found itself in the plains where Nadir Shah put 3000 of his best troops in ambush. Again these Persian troops were divided in three different bodies. Persian army was all cavalry where as the Hindoostani army had share of elephants. The Hindoostani leaders preferred to ride elephants. Saadat suffered an earlier leg injury that forced him to move on a chair and the use of elephant’s howdah. Khan Dauran was also seated on his elephant. The Persians used naphtha and mixture of combustibles on planks resting on two camels to scare the elephants from the battlefield. As the real battle began a little after 1 pm, Nadir Shah sent two small bodies of 500 horses each to engage the joint forces of Saadat and Khan Dauran to draw them further in the vortex of Persian army. The Mughal troops were lured 5 to 6 kms inside the ambush of main bodies of Persian cavalry and swivel guns mounted on camels. Suddenly the Persian cavalry was drawn to a side and the Mughal troops came under the direct and frontal firepower of Persians from point blank range. The Hindoostani troops braved the murderous fire for a while and then fled from the scene. Most of the officers dismounted and bravely fought the enemy and nearly 1000 of these brave soldiers died in the battlefield. Their leader Khan Dauran fell down fighting and brought to the Mughal camp before he could provide relief to Saadat Khan. Saadat Khan and his selected few withstood the Persian fire and put up a brave fight. Saadat was wounded at two places. He could have survived to fight for another day but for a misfortune that happened. The enraged elephant of his nephew Nisar Muhammad Khan Sher Jung charged the elephant of Saadat Khan and drove the animal in the Persian Camp. There Saadat was recognized and both he and his nephew were taken asprisoners of Nadir Shah. Thus the continuous artillery fire of Nadir Shah for more than two hours brought complete ruin in the Mughal camp and resulted in the loss of one of their bravest soldier and eclipse of another. In this whole afternoon, the two armies of Mughal Emperor and Nizam the Wazir remained more as a silent spectator and did not participate in the battle for reasons best known to them. 3000 of best Oudh soldiers laid down their lives fighting. Their Master was captured and his fate hung in balance. His camp and belongings were looted and so it happened with the brave soldier Khan Dauran. It has been mentioned earlier that Khan Dauran received fatal wounds and was declared dead before arriving in the Mughal camp. He had no camp of his own when brought back and a poorly furnished, makeshift camp served the purpose. Khan Dauran when came in senses kept on repeating that scuttle the terms with Nadir Shah at any cost, so that he can return to Persia from here and should not be taken to Delhi under any circumstances. How prophetic the sayings of dying Khan Dauran became would be known only later. In the initial meeting with Nadir Shah, Saadat Khan explained at length of the vast resources at the command of the Mughal Emperor and therefore it might be better to settle terms and go back. Nadir found a good person in Saadat, to open negotiations with the Mughal Emperor. Nadir also wanted to return Persia as early as possible so that he can fight the Sultan of Turkey. Saadat advised him to open negotiations with Nizam the Wazir. On next day that was 14th Feb 1738. the Nizam was invited. Saadat also wrote a letter of assurance to the Mughal Emperor explaining and requesting him to send the Nizam. The terms of peace were settled by the payment of war indemnity of amount Rs.50 lakhs. The terms of payment were; Rs. 20 lakhs immediately, Rs. 10 lakhs were to be paid at Lahore, Rs.10 lakhs at Attock and the balance amount on reaching the city of Kabul. Both the parties rejoiced at the conclusion of the treaty. Nizam was given valuable gifts and presents by Nadir Shah. Next day that was 15th Feb., Nadir Shah wanted to celebrate the treaty and invited formally the Mughal Emperor to a grand dinner in Nadir’s camp. On return from the dinner, the Mughal Emperor came to know the end of his faithful Samsam-ud-Daulah Khan Dauran.

The death of Khan Dauran triggered one of the worst catastrophes that had fallen on the city of Delhi and her people in the entire history, which nobody could have imagined by the turn of events. Nizam the Wazir acted in undue haste. The powerful post of Pay Master was now vacant after the death of Khan Dauran. Nizam approached the Emperor to appoint his son Firuz Jung to this coveted post forgetting conveniently his earlier commitment to Saadat Khan for the same post. Later however on the objection of Azimullah Khan the son of Wazir’s brother claiming seniority, the Wazir himself assumed the post of Bakshi to avoid the clash. The news leaked out of the royal camp and traveled at a very fast speed to the ears of Saadat Khan who was still in the camp of Nadir Shah. Saadat seethed with anger and resolved to teach a lesson to the Nizam for going back on his broken promise without giving any thought to the consequences that would follow. A meeting was sought with Nadir Shah where Saadat used all his uncanny abilities to convince Nadir as his fellow brother from Persia how deceitful and rogue was the sweet tongued Nizam in making him to accept a paltry amount of Rs. 50 lakhs where as Rs 20 crores of cash and jewels could be realized had Nadir Shah taken trouble to travel to Delhi. Nadir’s eyes were wide opened at this revelation from his trusted friend and a high-ranking noble of the Mughal court. Nadir Shah called for the Nizam on 22d.Feb. and put forth his revised demand of Rs.20 crores as war indemnity and 20,000 troopers to serve as auxiliary. Nizam was stunned to hear the revised, highly inflated and unreasonable demand of Nadir Shah. The Nizam mildly explained that this much amount was not accumulated even during a times of Shahjahan what to talk of the present times. Whatever amount was at in the Mughal treasury after Shahjahan that was spent by Aurangzeb in his long Deccan sojourn. At present even to pay Rs.50 lakhs was an uphill task and demand of Rs.20 crores was not fair. Nadir Shah was furious with the reply of he old man and ordered for the detention of Nizam. The Nizam was forced to write a letter to Emperor Muhammad Shah imploring him in strong terms to pay a second visit to Nadir Shah to seal the terms of agreement. Nobody had an inkling of the events that happened behind the scene of which Saadat Khan was alone the main actor. On 24h Feb the Mughal Emperor arrived in the camp of Nadir Shah but was accorded a cold reception that was enough to foretell of future happenings. The poor King was now a captive of Nadir Shah and awaited the same fate as Nizam. The political activities behind the scene assumed brisk now and resulted in action as dictated by Nadir Shah on the advice of Saadat Khan. It was true as per old Hindi idiom, ‘Ghar ka bhedi Lanka Dhawe. The idiom simply means that the enemy within is enough to cause ruin. Saadat Khan became a key player and a pawn in the hands of Nadir Shah.

The fate of Delhi was sealed the day Emperor Muhammad Shah came second time to the camp of Nadir Shah and coerced to write a letter to the Governor of Delhi, Lutfullah Khan to hand over the keys of Fort palaces, Imperial treasury and stores to Tahmasp Khan Jalair, the man of Nadir Shah. Lutfullah was preparing to dig in and preparing for defense of Delhi as soon as he heard the misfortune befallen on the Mughal camp at Karnal. Saadat Khan, who was escorting Tahmasp with his 4000 troopers, dissuaded Lutfullah from offering resistance and asked him to comply with the letter of the Emperor. A second letter written by Nadir Shah was also handed over. Seeing the futility of his action and heeding to the advice and presence of his senior noble of the court Saadat Khan, Lutfullah surrendered the keys as ordered. Nadir Shah was pleased with this act of Lutfullah and confirmed him to the post of Governor of Delhi. Tahmasp was especially instructed by Nadir Shah to maintain the law and order in the city and prepare the Fort Palace for the reception and stay of the victorious King of Persia. Saadat being a senior noble of the Court was asked to assist Tahmasp in the task both by Muhammad Shah and Nadir Shah. At the time of leaving on Feb the 27th, Nadir Shah again reminded Saadat Khan for arranging the payment of Rs 20 crores from the Mughal treasury as assured by him.

At last March 1″ dawned, any one could not gauge the full implication of red sky of that fateful day. The Persian army rode with its full armor, dazzling the eyes of the onlookers on way to Delhi. The defeated and crestfallen Mughals followed, Emperor Muhammad Shah and his Wazir the Nizam rode with 1000 horses and 10,000 troopers. The march was slow. Nadir Shah was enjoying every moment of the glory so achieved. The onlookers were bewildered. It was very hard on them to believe that the Persians had defeated the mighty Mughal army. Soth the Persians and Mughals arrived Shalimar Gardens on March 7th. The Mughal Governor planned the official reception in the colored glass hall of the famous Shalimar garden palace on the outskirt of Delhi. Saadat Khan was already there. Muhammad Shah himself introduced Lutf-ullah Khan to Nadir Shah. Shah was in ebullient mood and Lutfullah not only received praise from Nadir Shah in eloquent terms but also present of a costly coat worn by Persian King himself. The Persians were treated lavishly. Music and dancing presented by such top-ranking performer Nur Bai was arranged on this special occasion. Nur Bai captivated the heart of a born hard-core soldier of the man called Nadir Shah in history books. Wines brought from Shiraz flowed. The Mughal Emperor took leave and proceeded to Shahjahanabad and Red Fort Palace to give final touch to receive the Persian monarch. Nadir Shah continued his stay at Shalimar Garden Palace from 7th to 8th March.

On the 9th March 1939, Nadir Shah was in the Rang Mahal or private apartment of the Mughal Emperor in the Fort Palace of Shahjahanabad. Nadir Shah was getting impatient with each passing day and not getting assurance or part of the promised Rs. 20 crores. Saadat practically spent the whole day of March 9th with Nadir Shah to placate him and keep his temper down. In the evening, Saadat was specially summoned in the presence of the Persian monarch. Saadat was taken aback by the outburst and loss of temper by Nadir Shah. Nadir heaped insults calling Saadat by names and charged him with deceit and lies. The hard tone and tenor of Nadir’s voice was continuously ringing in his ears and that was too much for a noble of such high birth and ranking. That night, friends and foes of Saadat Khan were all shocked to hear the untimely death of the Oudh Subedar. The body turned blue due to poisoning. History will never know the truth of the cause of death. Some say that Saadat took this extreme step himself to save from the disgrace and insult of the Persian King.

Saadat can never be pardoned for his deplorable role in the blood bath of Delhi wrought by the soldiers of Nadir Shah. He took such a reckless recourse borne only out of anger and revenge towards the Wazir and Mughal Emperor. Saadat wanted the post of Bakshi but Nizam conveniently overlooked the claim and appointed himself to the post. Saadat could have waited for some opportune moment and talked the matter over either with the Nizam or the Emperor himself. The thought of country and the welfare of his Mughal master should have crossed his mind rather than raged with the base desire of revenge. This act does not fit in the character of a man whom one knew earlier. Though he faulted earlier also for not taking sides with the Saiyyad brothers who always supported his candidature on many occasions. May be Saadat knew which way the wind was blowing at that time and his sense of self preservation dictated his course of action then. He was in the peak of his career, holding important charge of Oudh Subedari and a responsible senior noble of the Delhi Court to whom people right from Mughal Emperor down to ordinary courtier looked for. He brought ruin and disgrace not only on the Mughal Emperor and the city beautiful Shahjahanabad but brought a quick end to his own life as well.

To bring the saga of Nawab Burhan-ul-Mullk to close, it may be necessary to narrate here how the city of Faizabad came in to existence. The Founder of Naishapur dynasty of Oudh arrived at Ayodhya after subjugating the Shaikhjadas of Lucknow. He wanted to make his capital city close to the ancient capital of Oudh. A high raise earthen mound on the banks of river Ghaghra was selected for his camp. He continued to live in his tent house for some time as he was busy in establishing himself as Subedar of Oudh, which was again not an easy task in those times. The heavy rains forced Saadat to build better housing and shelter not only for himself but for his people also. Paucity of fund and not given to vanity and showmanship, Saadat chose mud and straw roof top housing as the basic design. Soon these common looking people’s housing came up at a fast speed. A high raise mud boundary wall also came up and surrounded the mud buildings and houses of the establishment of newly appointed Oudh Subedar. Four burgees or observation towers also were built, one at each corner of the mud fortification. The huge land area protected by the mud fortification so built covered military cantonment, workshop offices and practically all the establishment of the Subedar of Oudh. The quarters and residential places for ladies of the household of Nawab were also built of mud and straw. The Nawab was mostly busy in official work and with little time for leisure, he continued his governance from these mud houses. Soon these became famous and came to be known as Bungalow. Those who have seen or lived in the large mud and straw bungalows of olden times during British Raj cannot easily forget the comfort these provided during the hot summertime. It is only after the death of Saadat Khan, the habitation came to be recognized as a city and given the name of Faizabad. Gardens were laid and open pavilions built by the nobles around their mud phuska houses that made these more beautiful and colorful. In the western side of the earthen fortification, a big entrance gate known as Delhi Darwaja was built. Outside of this Delhi Darwaja, the sons of Diwan Atma Ram built a bazaar and residences. Ismail Khan followed and developed a similar bazaar and residential housing.

Some authors have described Saadat Khan as a person of noble bearings, possessor of a fine physique and fair color being Persian. He had flashing eyes that brooked no nonsense from his followers. His aquiline nose smelt out treachery when hatched by his adversaries and thus was able to outsmart them in their game faster than they anticipated. He was a courageous person. He had the ability to deal with the persons. Early in life he displayed leadership qualities that attracted the attention of Saiyyad brothers. He shown administrative acumen in establishing his Subedari of Oudh during those turbulent days and dealt effectively with Sheikhjadas and Pathans settled in Lucknow. He accumulated riches in the process and added fabulous jewels in his treasury. He wore an impressive aigrette inlaid with a dazzling display of diamonds on his headdress.

It is also interesting to narrate that Nawabi of Oudh did not come on a platter to Safdar Jung after the death of his uncle and father in law Nawab Saadat Khan. Sher Jung another nephew of the late Nawab made a petition to Nadir Shah to grant the Nawabi of Oudh to him rather than Safdar Jung, Raja Laxmi Narain who was a faithful officer in the service of deceased Nawab was present at that time in Delhi and immediately took up the cajole on behalf of Safdar Jung. The Raja made a petition to Nadir Shah, making a strong plea to grant Subedari of Oudh to Safdar Jung. Attention of Nadir Shah was drawn that the late Nawab Saadat Khan was not happy with Sher Jung and that was the reason he married off his daughter to Safdar Jung Safdar Jung was a God-fearing person, a man of simple habits, devoted to life of discipline and who always kept his promise. The late Nawab promiscd to give Rs 2 crores to Shah. Safdar Jung had made the necessary arrangement for payment and now only waited for instructions of the Shah. Nadir Shah agreed with the arguments of Raja Laxmi Narain and got the approval of Muhammad Shah for grant of Subedari of Oudh to Safdar Jung, Nadir Shah lost no time and obtained the robe of honor and the royal order from Muhammad Shah and sent these with his men comprising of 100 Persian troops to Safdar Jung at Faizabad. Safdar Jung paid cash of Rs. 2 crores to the leader of the Persian troops and wore the robe of honor. Thus the second Nawab of Oudh came to the seat of power.

Saadat and his Wives

Saadat had three Hindoostani wives and one Iranian wife. He thus conformed to the Islamic stricture of four wives at a time. Three Hindoostani wives bore him five daughters and a son who died as infant. Nothing much is known about his secondary wives.

One of the three Hindoostani wives of Saadat Khan was a daughter of Kalb Ali Khan, a noble man of Delhi who helped Saadat in his formative days. She died childless but one slave girl who came with her gave birth to Sadr-i-Jahan Begum.

Profile of Saadat’s Life Time


Fisher in his book titled, ‘A Clash of Cultures’ has aptly commented on the political scene of those times. He has written, “Politically, therefore the reigns of the first three rulers of Awadh marked transitions for the dynasty, the region, and the Mughal Empire, as well as for the East India Company. From a migrant whose prime resources were his personal qualities, Saadat Khan transformed himself into a leading figure in the Mughal Empire and established his family as ruler of the rich region of Awadh. His successors improved their position in the Empire and in the province. Awadh itself became the center from which armies were launched and supported in the ongoing struggle for control over the Empire. The dramatic intrusion of the Company into North India shifted the military and political dynamic for all the parties concerned and the Ruler and province of Awadh (and even, in part, the East India Company) joined in their acceptance of Mughal Culture.” Saadat made the province of Oudh, a strong base to meet his financial as well as military requirements. In his earlier years, Saadat had to face a big challenge from Talluqdars of Oudh, Suba Oudh had many such Talluqdars (also known as Rajas) who resided in their mud forts built in difficult terrains and camouflaged by bamboo grooves. They appropriated from the zamindars, a part or sometimes whole of land revenue meant for Delhi Court. They maintained their own armies consisting of men drawn primarily from their areas who were loyal to the core. These big Talluqdars recognized the authority of Imperial Mughals and sometimes tried to deal directly with Delhi. Saadat had to use all kind of means to control the landed aristocracy of Oudh to establish himself as a Mughal Subedar. Saadat gradually built his status at the Mughal Court and also earned a place in the Persian Court of Nadir Shah as a Negotiator at the time of Delhi invasion to improve his position. All the successive Oudh Rulers followed this policy when they outwardly swore allegiance to Mughal Emperor but at the same time strengthened their own positions even to the extent of joining hands with East India Company. This outward form was also thrown apart when the seventh Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider became the first King of Oudh. However the Mughal Authority held great sway in the minds of people and it was evident when the Military Leaders, gathered in Lucknow during 1857 uprising, asked Crown Prince Birjis Qadr to present nazr and seek confirmation of his appointment from the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah. Although, both Hindu and Muslim Talluqdars of Oudh fought the East India Company in 1857 uprising, having accepted the sovereignty of Birjis Qadr and Begum Hazrat Mahal.


Oudh Rulers followed the Mughal model of administration with an exception at the top. Akbar the Great Mughal created a policy of balance and check in the provincial administration. The head of Province (Mulki) was the Subedar and head of finances (Maali) was called Diwaan. Mughal Emperor appointed both the officers and their authorities ran parallel as they directly reported to the emperor. Thus a system of check and balance was created so that none of the two top provincial officers gained enough power to challenge the Emperor. Taking advantage of the prevailing situation at the Delhi Court, Saadat changed this system and made sure that he appointed all the provincial administrative officers including Diwaani. The provincial administration was now converged through the Subedar himself. He appointed all his close relatives to the positions of importance such as Bakshi or Paymaster of the troops, Faujdar or the Military Governor, Sadr-al-sudur or Chief of Religious Affairs, and the Kotwal or the city administrator. He also appointed his loyal servants (chelas) and members of renowned Houses loyal to him. These groups included Hindus (Kayasthas Khattris, and Brahmins) mostly in the secretariat and Diwani works in which they proved more proficient. These also included Sunni Muslims who occupied high positions in the Government. Shias were no doubt given preference. Everyone was well versed in Persian, familiar with the Mughal office procedure and belonged in one way or the other to the Mughal Imperial service These Imperial Officers had their own class and did not mingle with the landed aristocracy. The lands Barons were mostly Rajputs, Brahmins, and Sunni Muslims (Afghans included). They were not given any high position in the Lucknow Court (with few exceptions). Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad is one example whose forefather was Sunni Muslims but later became Shia Muslim. His name was highly respected but he never held any high position in the Imperial Court of Lucknow. It is therefore creditable for some Talluqdars like Raja Beni Madho who sacrificed everything including his life for the cause of Imperial Mughal representative Begum Hazrat Mahal and Birjis Qadr during the 1857 uprising.

Society’s Cultural Divisions

There were three distinct cultural streams in Oudh. The Imperial connection with Delhi induced Indo-Persian culture in the Oudh Court and the capital. Shia Rulers derived their ancestry from Persia. Indo-Persian culture was therefore bound to flourish in Lucknow. The people of Lucknow accepted Shia customs and festivals. Elites spoke Persian language and admired Persian literary works. Persian dominated in all state matters. Gradually Persian rich Urdu started replacing Persian in the court of Lucknow and land barons but it was a slow process. Shia Rulers married mostly among their relatives. The Lucknow Court Officials did not encourage the land barons and kept them at a distance. Thus culture had its roots in Delhi but was more Persian in the beginning, Regional cultural identity was distinct as it was deeply connected with Oudh region and where the spoken language Awadhi dominated the length and breadth of the cultural region. People were bound with one spoken language and shared common traditions. The masses had the governance model of ‘Shri Ram Charit Manas’, a poetic text written by Tulsi Das in Awadhi that attained the status of a Holy Book amongst the Hindus. Some English Writers like Fisher have stated that the Shia Rulers of Lucknow had no connection with this regional culture as they were migrants from Persia and had relations only amongst themselves. This statement might be truer in times of the first and second Nawabs but more regional influences started showing up during the third Nawabi period. Changes were gradual but conspicuously visible. When the last King Wajid Ali Shah ascended the throne, he adopted Rahas of Braj and wrote dramas in which his characters spoke Jai or victory to Ram. Ram was the King of Ayodhya and is worshipped as a Hindu God. His characters spoke a mixture of Awadhi and Urdu. He borrowed from the regional culture of Oudh and his genius created a new trend, called Ganga-Jamuna culture.

The land barons of Oudh nurtured the third so-called local stream of culture. The Talluqdars and zamindars had their courts patterned on the Mughals and derived utmost loyalty from their people who were mostly cultivators of lands. These people also served as soldiers in times of wars. Thus their destiny was mostly bound with that of their local landlords. They accepted Mughal authority and therefore recognized Oudh Subedar as a representative of Mughal Emperor. The local stream was mainly guided from the personality of the Zamindars or Taluqdars who in turn were bound by the customs but at the same time tried to emulate the courts of Lucknow and Delhi. Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava in his book ‘The first Two Nawabs of Awadh’ considers the first half of 18th century as a Awadh and Allahabad’. People were superstitious and ignorant. The ruling class was habitually practitioner of common vices and promoter of slavery. These were considered as enhancement to their social status. Political immorality was order of the day. Saadat Khan’s acts in Delhi speak for themselves. The ruling class in Oudh: Emirs and Umras, land barons, zamindars also followed the same maxim when it suited them. Although it can be said that a large number of Hindu Officers employed in the services of Nawab remained faithful to him. Ashirbadi Lal speaks highly about the character of common people of Oudh. He writes, “-free from most of the above vices. They were frank, honest, trustworthy, and conscientious. -lived like the members of one great family.” Even the high-class people showed respect to the low caste village elders in many ways. Rehana Begum in her well-researched Hindi book, ‘Awadh ke Samajik Jivan ka Itihas’ has mentioned more or less similar prevailing sentiments amongst the people of Oudh during the period of great degeneration from 1720 to 1819.

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