Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula

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Nawab Shuja-ud-DaulaJalal-ud-Din Haidar better known in the history books as Shuja-ud-Daula the first Nawab Wazir of Oudh was the only son of Safdar Jung born to Sadr-un-Nisa and therefore had no difficulty in the accession after death of his father. Triumph and Tragedy of his rule was taming of Afghans and Marathas, and entry of the East India Company in Oudh. Sweet talks of Lord Clive that made Nawab agree to sign the Allahabad treaty had far reaching implications. The Nawab was more of a military man than a statesman. At this point of time it is easier for one to say that the Nawab should have made peace with Afghans and Marathas to open a joint front against the evil designs of English men. Nawab treaded the easiest path by following what his master the Mughal Emperor did. Earlier in his reign, Nawab was given more to life of pleasure but after the debacle at Buxar, he devoted more time on military organization, administration, increases in revenue and planning of city. Faizabad reached its glorious period only under his care. Had he lived longer and not died so young in age (45 yrs.), the city of Faizabad would have surpassed Delhi, This is the story of a man who had the grit, bravery, and resources to meet the English Challenge but lacked in statesmanship, and prudence in handling political affairs.

Early life and training

Shuja was born in the year 1738 on the 19th day of January month in the mansion of Dara Shikoh near Kashmiri gate, Delhi. It was a worthwhile wait of 14 long years for the eager parents and maternal grandfather Saadat Khan. Time of birth was declared auspicious by the religious mendicants of the age whom the doting Saadat Khan consulted. The mansion of Dara Shikoh where both Saadat Khan and his son in law resided at that time, soon started receiving unending stream of visitors to exchange pleasantries. As was the custom of those times, great rejoicing and feasting continued for days together and poor were fed and clothed, followed with liberal alms to the poor. The young boy Mirza Jalal-ud-Din was provided good educational training under watchful eyes of both his grandfather and father who took care to appoint men like Sheikh Muhammad Hassan, and acknowledged masters in their professions. Soon the young boy of yesteryear grew up in to a fine, strong man, possessor of well honed skill in the warfare and given to traditional learning of those days. He was greatly influenced by his strong willed mother and ably supported by his chief wife Bahu Begum in the latter stage. One instance described here shall highlight the rigor of strictness and discipline, which both the parents tried to impress upon the young Mirza. In a flurry of youthful adventure, young Mirza took fancy of a damsel and in the true spirit of a Romeo, tried to climb and gain entry in his Juliet’s room. However the poor Juliet would not recognize her Romeo in the guise of a Prince and shouted for help. Mirza was apprehended and the city Kotwal was perplexed to take action against the noble born culprit but gathered enough courage to report the matter to Nawab Wazir. The father cast aside his paternal love and rebuked the Kotwal for seeking advice and gave him free hand in the case. Taking the cue, Kotwal proceeded against Mirza like any ordinary offender for committing similar offence. In the mean time the Prince appealed to his mother for help, as he knew well enough the outcome of any talking with his father. The mother gave a curt reply, using harsher language. The result was that the Mirza had to pay for his crime by spending one week in the prison like any other ordinary prisoner. The rapprochement between the father and son came only after a year at the intervention of Mirza’s mother.

When the father of Imad, a high ranking noble died, Imad approached Safdar Jung to save his family from ruins. Softened by the feigned, heart rendering, never ending sobs of the well tutored wily young boy, Safdar Jung tried to comfort Imad by declaring him as brother of young Shuja with a formal ceremony of exchange of turbans. Thus in this manner, Imad was able to save his property and gained entry in the Mughal Court. Imad repaid his debt of gratitude by plotting ouster of his saviour Safdar Jung from the Imperial Court of Delhi? Both father and son had to leave Delhi and retire to Oudh for safety at the end of civil war in which Imad played a crucial role.

Mutaman-ud-Daula Nawab Muhammad Ishaq Khan-I was a great favorite of Emperor Muhammad Shah, even a step above Amir Khan who was Wazir at that time. He had a son Mirza Muhammad Ishaq Khan Nazm-ud-Daula and a daughter by the name of Umat-ul-Zohra Begum who was truly an accomplished lady. There were many eager suitors in waiting who vied for her hands. The Mughal Emperor declared Umat-ul-Zohra Begum as his own daughter and expressed in favor of Shuja-ud-Daula as suitable match for her. The Emperor asked Safdar Jung, his Wazir to open negotiations of marriage with Nazm-ud-Daula the brother of the girl, as Senior Ishaq Khan was no more at that time. Amir Khan was the man selected by the Emperor for the purpose of settlement of Mebr and other terms of marriage. Happiness of both the parents, Safdar Jung and Sadr-i-Jahan Begum knew no bounds. Safdar Jung entrusted complete responsibility of the marriage arrangements to his Chief Begum. The marriage ceremonies went on with great pomp and show befitting the occasion. The eyewitness accounts speak of a long drawn procession of gift bearers from the bridegroom’s side that extended from the Delhi Gate of Red Fort Palace to Kotla Feroze Shah. There were trays and trays only to be seen everywhere; full of all kinds of sweets, fruits, dresses, fineries, perfumes, and assortment of silver vessels of various shapes and sizes. In return, the bride’s side also sent even costlier presents than those of sachek in the Mehndi ceremony. The actual marriage (Nikah) ceremony was performed in July/August month of year 1745 A.D. The whole wedding expenses came to around Rs.46 lakhs, a huge sum indeed even in those times, which few nobles could afford. The new lady in the House of Nishapur became famous as Bahu Begum in the pages of history. In the words of Jadunath Sarkar, ” tragic heroine of the impeachment of Warren Hastings for ill-treatment of Begums of Oudh.”

The young Shuja got opportunities early in life when his father, the Wazir of Mughal Emperor was able to establish his authority by removing the influential eunuch Javid Khan mortally from the scene. Losing no time, the Wazir appointed Shuja who was given charge of four departments namely Ahadis, confirmation of appointments & grants, macebearers and personal riding establishments; all of these had to do with the nearness to Emperor. Again, soon after, Shuja was made Superintendent of Private Audience and retained the full control over entrée to the Emperor. The late Javid Khan held these positions of importance and unabashedly made use of these to promote his interests. Shuja was also favored with the post of Mir Atish (Chief of Artillery), which was then considered a very powerful position. All these new responsibilities thrust on Shuja at such a young age made him head strong and not much liked by his Turrani or Mughalia officers and troops for they always considered father and son as interlopers for being Persians.

The newly found positions vanished by slickness when the civil war broke out between Safdar Jung and the Imperial troops. It was the year 1752 and early part of May when the Mughal Emperor dismissed Shuja from all the commands he was holding then in the Fort Palace along with other appointees of Safdar. Even the relatives of Shuja’s wife were not spared and their houses and mansions were ransacked at the instigation of Imad and Imperial orders. Amongst the sufferers was Mirza Ali Khan the third Bakshi and Salar Jung, the brothers of Shuja’s wife who resided near the fort palace.

Ascendancy to the seat (masnad)

As was said earlier that Safdar Jung died at a little obscure place called Paparghat in 1753 but his news of death was kept a secret till the body was brought to Gulab Bari of Faizabad, the capital city of Oudh. It was a political decision taken in view of floating rumours. In spite of feeling sorrow and mournful, the Senior Begum Sadr-i-Jahan took all precautions to see her son Shuja-ud-Daula gaining the ascendancy of Masnad of Oudh without any clamor. Official dispatches were sent to the Mughal Emperor and all sundry authorities. All the grandees of the court attended the formal ceremony. The Senior Begum made an impassioned appeal to all the nobles in the name of her late husband Safdar Jung for enlisting their unflinching support and loyalty in the same measure now to her son Shuja-ud-Daula. The nobles respected their Senior Begum for her wisdom and exemplary character. The whole assembly of nobles gathered on the occasion consented with unitary voice of their allegiance towards the newly sworn Nawab and reaffirmed their loyalty to the House of Nishapur.

The first threat to Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula came pretty soon which was precipitated due to his own actions. The young Nawab on assumption of masnad, felt sudden dawn of freedom without any restraining hand. The cupid struck and a young, teenaged, Hindu Khatri girl of Ayodhya was abducted and forced to spend a night with the lustful young Nawab. Reportedly two brothers namely Umrao Giri and Himmat Bahadur helped the Nawab in this thoughtless rendezvous. The whole Ayodhya was on fire. The Khatris of Ayodhya en masse cajoled Deewan Ram Narain to dispense justice. They also approached Ismail Beg, another influential noble of the court. Ismail Beg consulted with other Mughal Officers and sent a request with a veiled threat to the young Nawab, not to indulge in such unbecoming behavior in future or else be ready to face the unpleasant consequences. The young Nawab was not amenable to the suggestion. Mughal Officers developed a contingency plan to unseat the Nawab from the masnad of Oudh and replace him with Muhammad Quli Khan, Governor of Allahabad. Ismail Khan also decided to punish the two brothers belonging to a well-known Naga Hindu sect. Raja Ram Narain recognizing the serious repercussions that may erupt immediately brought the matter to the notice of Begum Sadr-i- Jahan, the mother of Nawab. The wise Lady impeached Raja Ram Naraian for bringing up such an issue and asked him to settle the case by using all his wits so as not to allow devolution of any further crisis endangering the masnad of her son. On the adviceof Raja, the Senior Begum also invited Ismail Beg and all other Mughal Chiefs of the court and after giving them due honors & bestowing upon them gifts; she praised their unflinching loyalty towards House of Nishapur, reminded all of them to remain true to their salt and not indulge in any activity which can harm the interests of the family of Late Safdar Jung and Saadat Khan, The Senior Begum always commanded respect from the nobles of the court and her words made renewed impact on Ismail Khan and other Turrani leaders and they gave up their plans of unseating the Nawab. In this whole episode, the instinct of a mother was more dominant in the Senior Begum to save her son from ruin rather than the call of justice towards an aggrieved woman.

The domineering effect of his mother in saving her son from such indulgences in future did not bear fruit in the long run and Shuja-ud-Daula was spending more time in playful activities of the youth rather than state matters. It will be of no harm to repeat here that Shuja-ud-Daula did not pay much heed to the state matters before the debacle of Buxar. The defeat made him more sober but it was too late. The damage was wrought once for all and the damage control exercise was of no avail at that point of time. There is a proverb in Hindi, which says that there is no gain in the action when the birds have eaten away all the grains in the field. The senior Begum from time to time tried to keep the Nawab on right track, by asking him to carry out administrative reforms such as release of full pension and not holding any part, got reinstated Deputy Governor Khawaza Tonkin who was an able administrator but was dismissed earlier, and had thirty of his courtesans to leave the royal premises.

Recognition as a Political Power in the Mughal Hindoostan

Both the father and son were forced to depart from Imperial Delhi because of strong Sunni card played by Imad and rallying Ruhelas and Badakshahi’s against the two Shia leaders. Safdar Jung never forgave Imad for his doings, and so the son Shuja always nurtured a secret feeling in his heart to gain the lost wazarat of his father. Suraj Mal the Jat Raja of Bharatpur and Najib Khan the Afghan Ruhela were the two other formidable contenders from north India, vying with each other to share the power at the center. They made the task of Imad, the Wazir very difficult indeed. As a matter of fact the Wazir made matters worse for himself by alienating the Marathas also by his rollicking policies and that made possible a nexus between Safdar Jung, Suraj Mal Jat and the Marathas. Imad was being constantly harassed by palace intrigues amidst the rumours of Safdar Jung plotting to become Wazir. Imad retaliated against his suspected enemies with vengeance and even attempted to murder Prince Ali Gauhar (ablest of all who later became Emperor Shah Alam-II). The poor Prince had to run away for his life from the capital and sought refuge with Safdar Jung. The Wazir now planned to weaken Safdar Jung by taking away the province of Allahabad from him and snapping his ties with Ahmad Khan Bangash. Imad offered as a prize the province of Allahabad to Ahmad Khan Bangash but the news somehow leaked to Safdar Jung. The Nawab of Oudh strengthened the defenses of Allahabad and was well prepared militarily to meet the looming threat from Wazir. The plan had to be abandoned and an unstable peace restored between the warring factions. Ganna Begum was yet another cause of friction between Shuja and Imad. It will be of interest for the reader to know little more about Ganna Begum. Tragic Queen of this tale was the daughter of a highborn noble of the Imperial court Delhi and her mother was a professional dancer who was a highly gifted lady and a poetess of merit. The daughter inherited all these qualities and charms of her mother. Her exceptional beauty brought many suitors in the arena that included Imperial Wazir Imad-ul-Mulk, Shuja-ud-Daula and Jawahir Singh son of Jat Raja Sooraj Mal. The father of Ganna Begum, Ali Quli Khan came to Oudh with Safdar Jung in 1753, which gave ample opportunity to Shuja of coming closer to her. After the death of her father in 1756, Ganna Begum and Shuja decided to marry. While traveling to Lucknow for the purpose, the men of Jawahir Singh tried unsuccessfully to kidnap her at Agra She escaped to Farrukhabad where Ahmad Khan Bangash prevailed upon her mother to marry Ganna with Imad. Ganna became the wife of Imad but the farmed Mughlani Begum of Punjab became furious with this alliance as Imad and her daughter Umda Begum were betrothed in the childhood. Durrani King Ahmad Shah Abdali who humiliated the Mughal Emperor in the battlefield now coerced Imad to marry Umda Begum for keeping his Wazarat secure. Mughlani Begum was a munbboli (spoken from the mouth) sister to Abdali Shah and would have never said no to her for her invaluable services. Mughlani Begum inserted a clause in the terms of marriage that Ganna shall remain for life a bondmaid to Umda Begum. The turn of events and cruel fate of unfortunate Ganna Begum later took her to the camp of famous Maratha warrior Mahadaji Scindia whom she met, disguised in male attire, got a job in the office and attached to Scindia for letter writing. The ‘real identity of Ganna Begum could not remain hidden for a long time from Scindia. The camp of Scindia was on the banks of Narmada and the famous Malwa’s intoxicating breeze was enough to surcharge the atmosphere for romance. Ganna worshiped Scindia, as hero and Scindia also could not escape developing a soft corner for her. Ganna died and lie buried in a place called,  Nurabad, situated 13 miles (21 kms) north of Gwalior. Perhaps the cenotaph is a silent tribute of Scindia to a lady who could never find peace and happiness in life which she so richly deserved, a lady in whose young bosom there was a heart also that tickled and one who was so close to him yet far off.

The year 1757 saw the invasion of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Delhi was once again rocked by Afghan tyranny. Shuja-ud-Daula kept himself aloof and even did not care to rescue his nominal master, the weakling, helpless, Mughal Emperor Alamgir-II meekly submitting to the Afghan King without giving any real battle. Main culprits in this great human misery drama were Emperor’s own people namely his Wazir Imad-ul-Mulk and Ruhela Chief Najib Khan. With the blessings of Ahmad Shah, these two nobles renewed their old game plan against their common enemy, Shuja-ud-Daula in his den. This time they came out with a plan to declare the two Mughal Princes as Subedars; one to be given the subedari of Oudh including the province of Allahabad and the other given subedari of Bengal that included Bihar. The two Afghan Houses that of Ruhelas and Bangash gave their nod to the plan. Imad convinced the Emperor that this was the only way of improving the Imperial finances, as both of these two Subas were cash rich. Imad also assured Abdali Shah’s support in the campaign. The two impoverished Princes appeared before Ahmad Shah’s camp near Mathura. They were given nominal Durrani military detachment and a lecture from Ahmad Shah, how to raise the financial resources by driving out enemies and establishment of own revenue collection centers. The enemies identified were Marathas, Shuja-ud-Daula of Oudh and the Subedar of Bengal. The Ruhela and Bangash Afghans helped the two Princes to enlist sizeable recruits for their armies considering the governance of two large subas of Oudh and Bengal. The ill-conceived campaign that lasted nearly 5 months could not proceed beyond the Afghan country. Shuja-ud-Daula arrived on the scene with a large force and coupled with the news of fresh Marathas reinforcement coming; the newly formed alliance started negotiations with Shuja and in haste settled for payment of a modest sum as a tribute to the Allies. Shuja readily agreed and started on his return march to Oudh. The Afghans were in great hurry to return and save their respective capitals from loot by their dreaded adversary Marathas. At Bangash Farrukhabad, the two Princes had to disband their assembled troops. The financial losses ran very high. The Princes became paupers and it was not easy for them to show their faces to the Mughal Emperor.

In 1759, Peshwa the overall Chief of Maratha confederacy sent instructions to his sardars stationed in north Hindoostan to crush Nazib, and take Benares, Ayodhya and Allahabad from Shuja-ud-Daula. Marathas plundered Doab and then forced Nazib from Delhi to seek refuge in the sanctity of his territories. Marathas pushed up in the Ruhela country but were warned from Shuja-ud-Daula against the complete destruction of Nazib or else Oudh army will take-up the Ruhela’s cause and fight against Marathas. Delhi was now under the control of Marathas and Imad was Wazir once again with their support. Ahmad Shah Abdali’s Afghan forces marched in Punjab then occupied by Marathas. Some Marathas chiefs ran away from their posts and some gave a fight but were defeated at several places. Abdali made a pincer movement inside Doab and Marathas had to take shelter in Delhi. At Delhi, Imad committed the most ghastly act when his complicity in the cold-blooded murder of harmless Emperor and his other chief opponents like ex-Wazir Intizam, and Mirza Lutfullah, came in the limelight. Imad calculated that with Abdali coming it might not be safe for him to leave the Emperor alone in Delhi. The news of Abdali’s triumphant return and clinching the territories once held by Marathas, sent alarm bell ringing in Poona, the seat of Maratha power. Peshwa appointed Sadasiv Rao Bhau to lead the north Hindoostan expedition along with Vishwash Rao, merely a 17 years old son of Peshwa who was made the nominal Commander Chief of the forces. Their task was to re-establish Maratha supremacy in Hindoostan by driving out Abdali and recovering the lost territory captured by him. The stage was now set for the battle of Panipat to settle the fate of Marathas.

Now it appears that one of the biggest blunder committed by Shuja-ud-Daula was the alienation of Marathas who always remained dependable ally of his father. When the battle of Panipat (1761 A.D.) was fought between Abdali and the Martha forces of Peshwa, Shuja-ud-Daula took the side of Abdali Shah. Shuja had become a very powerful chief in north Hindoostan and both Abdali and Marathas tried hard to woo him. Abdali’s emissaries included the respected Queen of late Emperor Muhammad Shah, his army chief and Najib. Marathas also sent their representatives to Shuja and reminded him the friendship ties that existed with his father. Both the warring factions assured Shuja of the Imperial Wazirship.The mother of Shuja and colleagues of his father counseled for Marathas where as the younger once preferred Abdali. Shuja perhaps could not erase from his mind the help Maratha gave Imad to become Imperial Wazir and their avowed interest in coveting Allahabad and Benares from him. It is said that when Shuja met Abdali, the Afghan ruler offered to make him the Wazir at the spot to which Shuja replied where was the Emperor and who’s Wazir he was to become. Shuja appearance in Panipat on the side of Abdali created embitterment between Marathas and Nawab Wazirs of Oudh, After the battle was over, Afghans too were not happy with Shuja as he insisted on collection of the dead bodies of important leaders of Marathas and their descent burial according to Hindu rites. Before the battle of Panipat, Shuja made a last ditch attempt to bring peace between Abdali and Peshwa by sending his emissary to the Maratha camp. The peace proposals were to be mediated by Bhau and Nazib, absentee Shah Alam was to be made the new Mughal Emperor and pending his return the Prince Jawan Bakht was to act as his representative at Delhi and Shuja was to be declared as the Imperial Wazir. Once these proposals went through, Abdali and Marathas were to return to their respective lands. Imad the Wazir and his supporter Jat Raja Suraj Mal who were present in the Maratha camp showed their displeasure and went away. Bhau also made a last minute appeal to Shah for peace through Shuja-ud-Daula, which was favored by the Wazir of Durrani King but vehemently opposed by Nazib and Afghan soldiers. It was early morning hour of 14th January 1761 and the daybreak just started when Shuja rode to inform the Durrani King that Maratha forces were ready to strike. The disaster of the Panipat battle is now a well-known fact of Indian History. Never before the Maratha forces suffered such a crushing defeat and slaughter of such a massive scale.

Shah left Nazib Khan as administrator of Delhi and made Imad Imperial Wazir of the absentee Emperor Shah Alam. Prince Jawan Bakht as a Waris (heir apparent) without any real power, continued to stay at Delhi and represent the Emperor. The Emperor in his forced self-exile was enjoying the hospitality of Shuja by staying at Allahabad and was completely at his mercy. In early part of October 1762, Nazib went to Lahore to discuss Delhi affairs with Abdali King where agents of Shah Alam and Maratha Wakil joined him. There, a joint decision was taken to recognize Shah Alam as Emperor of Delhi and Shuja-ud-Daula as Imperial Wazir. Durrani Shah presented two khilbats or robes of honour, one for the Emperor and one for the Imperial Wazir. Shah also made Nazib responsible to pay a fixed annual tribute on behalf of Mughal Emperor. Nazib went back to Delhi and spent some time in restoring order in his jagir of Haryana and crown lands around Delhi. Although Jats were quietened after Raja Suraj Mal was killed in one of the encounters with Nazib but whole Sikh country was now up in arms. The old Nazib wanted to call it a day and wrote to Emperor in exile at Allahabad to come to Delhi and protect his people in Fort and the city. Shuja now jointly framed a scheme with Marathas to escort Emperor Shah Alam to Delhi under the joint protection of English, Jaipur Raja, Ruhelas, Marathas and Oudh troops. The other objective was to deprive the newly annexed territories of Jat Raja Jawahir son of Suraj Mal. The grand scheme had to be given up as English refused to march so far away from their base. It would be of some interest here to trace how Shah Alam came under the influence of Shuja and his stay at Allahabad. Prince Ali Gauhar or Shah Alam-II in his wanderings and in his sojourn in Ruhela country, received an invitation from the Imperial Governor of Allahabad Muhammad Quli Khan who also happened to be the first cousin of Shuja-ud-Daula. Muhammad Quli Khan joined forces with Shah Alam to conquer Bihar but after some initial success, the venture had to be abandoned as Imad sent messages to local zamindars not to recognize Shah Alam. Shuja-ud-Daula contrived to take over Allahabad by force and it was too late for Muhammad Quli Khan to return and protest. Shuja heard the protestor cordially and repaid him by assassination. During his second invasion of Bihar, Shah Alam heard the news of murder of his father on 29th Nov. 1759, and he proclaimed himself as Emperor and appointed Shuja as his Wazir. Shah Alam made three attempts to conquer Bihar and part of Bengal but the well-trained army of East India Company repulsed these attacks. Shuja, an Imperial Wazir now made good use of time while the Marathas were busy in their Jaipur campaign; he along with Emperor Shah Alam-II attacked Bundelkhand and captured Kalpi & Jhansi. Emperor Shah Alam and his Wazir Shuja reached Sikandrabad but had to put off their proposed march to Delhi when Oudh forces developed tiff with both Ruhelas and Bangash.

Developments rather moved at a faster pace now. The Subedar of Bengal, Mir Qasim, was now a refugee after his recent defeat by English and hunted out from Bengal. H e sought help from the Nawab Wazir Shuja-ud-Daula to recover his lost suba and promised to pay Rs one lakh when on march and half that amount for every halt as long as the war may last. He offered to cede Patna district to Nawab Wazir. The fugitive Nawab of Bengal brought with him 350 elephants, all loaded with gold & silver jewelry and other invaluable. Shuja-ud-Daula coveted the wealth brought by Mir Qasim and promised to help him to recover his lost subedari. The unsavvy Mir Qasim at the same time approached Emperor Shah Alam at Allahabad with an offer of considerable wealth if he was granted the subedari of Oudh in place of Shuja. The news leaked to Shuja, which made him furious and decided to teach a lesson to Mir Qasim. From the very beginning, Shuja was not feeling comfortable with the fugitive Nawab roaming freely in Oudh territory and therefore he was cordially invited to stay at Fyzabad. Outwardly he was showing that he was taking up his case with English as Wazir of the Empire but at the same time he was nursing a plan to please the English and attach all the treasure brought by Mir Qasim. The Imperial Wazir Shuja now wrote to the English to restore previous Nawab-Nazim and cede Bihar province to him. Further they were asked to comply immediately or else face the consequences. Clive was following his policy to increase the revenue of the East India Company that included the control of territories. Clive therefore refused to comply with orders of Wazir and the ground was now clear for the trial of strength.

Battle of Buxar and English gain

The battle of Buxar (23 rd Oct.1764) fought between the Imperial Mughal forces and East India Company shall always be remembered in the annals of history of Oudh and India. It was the first direct encounter between the forces of Imperial Mughals and the East India Company. The Trading Company, which begged earlier for the trade permits from the Mughal Court, now defied the same authority. The joint forces of Shah Alam, Shuja and Mir Qasim were badly defeated by the English forces. Oudh forces were also defeated at Kora (3 May 1765). Benares was lost and so the strong forts of Chunar & Allahabad to English forces. The defeat was complete. The Nawab of Oudh and the Imperial Wazir had lost everything, his territory, his prestige and nothing to fall back. Mir Qasim who was taken as a prisoner by Shuja, was freed before the start of battle and ran away to save his life by riding a lame camel. The unfortunate ex- subedar of Bengal was master of fabulous wealth when came to Oudh but he was now reduced to abject poverty as Shuja deprived him all of his wealth. The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam also did not escape from indignities heaped on him on many occasions by Shuja. Mughal Emperor was treated kindly by the English and kept at Allahabad under their protection. Clive himself came and met Shuja at Benares and Shah Alam at Allahabad. A treaty was concluded with Nawab Wazir on August 16, 1765 and Shuja was restored to masnad of Oudh on compliance of derogatory conditions but there was no escape. The Nawab Wazir was asked: “- to render gratuitous military assistance to the company in case of war or invasion and to pay for any assistance that the company was to grant him in similar circumstances; secondly, to entertain no European deserter or such other enemy as Mir Qasim or Samru, thirdly, to cede the valuable districts of Kara to Shah Alam; fourthly, to guarantee Balwant Singh, zamindar of Benares, in the full possession of his estate, and lastly, to pay a war indemnity of fifty lakhs of rupees.” Shuja’s friends who were sympathetic to English, also pressed him to enter in to commercial treaty also with the English but to this he did not agree. Shuja received much help from his Chief wife Bahu Begum in raising the enormous amount of war indemnity as his nobles of the court failed to provide him with the required loan money. In gratitude, Shuja granted her the jagirs of Gonda and Bahraich and share in the surplus over expenditure. The defeat of Shuja at Buxar signaled the entry of English in the fertile plains of Oudh for the first time. Clive cleverly devised a plan that unfolded in the 1765 treaty of Allahabad with Mughal Emperor. Shah Alam was given possession of Allahabad and Kara ceded by the Nawab Wazir and was asked to the stay at Allahabad under English protection. Clive legalized his Bengal possessions by securing the firmans of Emperor for Diwani rights of Bengal suba and agreed to pay an annual tributé of twenty-six lakhs of rupees. The Emperor was also pleased to grant Nizamat of Bengal to Nazm-ud-Daula. The treaties were masterstroke of Clive, as one will clearly see how inroad was made in Oudh, making the most powerful Nawab Wazir as subservient to the company. A permanent wedge was driven between subedar of Oudh and Mughal Emperor by ceding Allahabd and Kara. The East India Company was now undisputed, recognized, leading power in Hindoostan. The Company’s role as Protector of Mughal Emperor did not go unnoticed by the other ruling powers of Hindoostan including the Marathas.

Immediately after the conclusion of treaty, Shuja hurried back to his Oudh province and started giving more time in organizing his army on French model and took measures to improve the finances of the suba. He carried out vigorously the pending administrative reforms. He dismissed his Mughal troops and punished those whose loyalty was doubted by him. In a conference called at Chhapra (Bihar), Clive impressed upon the leaders present to forge a joint front against the rising Maratha power and maintain balance of power. Shuja as imperial Wazir was asked to play the role of arbitrator in case of any dispute. Shuja increased the strength of his army to combat the Marathas, which caused alarm in Fort Williams, Calcutta. An English team met Shuja at Benares in 1768 and reminded him to the terms of treaty which did not permit the strength of forces more than 10,000 troops trained to drill in European fashion. Shuja agreed to reduce the strength to 35,000 troops.

After staying for 15 years in the comfort and safety at Allahabad, Shah Alam finally decided to march to Delhi in 1771. He sought help from Wazir, English and Marathas. Shuja gave twelve lakh rupees, transport vehicles, tents and other equipages. Shuja also offered to come up to Jajmau. English escorted Shah Alam up to Bithur near Kanpur. Passing through Afghan countryside near Farrukhabad, the seat of Bangash Afghans, the Mughal Emperor was helped by Marathas to enter Delhi.

On 7h Sept. 1773, Shuja-ud-Daula signed a treaty with Warren Hastings at Benares that incorporated English arms aid in defense of his own territory and proposed invasion of Rohilkhand. Emboldened by the treaty, Shuja-ud-Daula now concentrated on Afghans whom he despised like his father. There was no Afghan leader of ranking left alive now. Shuja’s army marched westwards. The army size and establishment was so large that it gave an appearance of a whole city on march along with the flag of Oudh. He traveled via Lucknow and then reached Etawah, which was under the control of Marathas. He took Etawah from weak Marathas without much effort. Entering the Bangash territory, he camped at Kauriyagunj and Kasgunj and from there, he wrote to Hafij Rahmat Khan chief of Bareilly, demanding the ransom money paid by Shuja to Marathas to save the Afghan territories. The wise Hafiz Rahmat Khan collected his folk and offered to pay Rs. 20 lakhs from his own and the balance Rs. 30 lakhs was to be paid by them. The obvious answer was no by hotheaded Afghans who underestimated the strength of their enemy. With the help of English brigade, he attacked Rohilas under Hafiz Rahmat Khan and fought bitterly at Babul Nulla or Miran Katra in April 1774, with many top leaders and 4000 Afghan troops slain. A second battle the jagir of Rampur where as rest of the Rohilkhand was annexed by Shuja in his Son after erupted but a treaty of peace also followed. Fyzoollah Khan was given province of Oudh. He left his second son Saadat Ali as Governor of the region next target was Zabita Khan, son of more famous late Nazib-ud-Daula, who had the audacity of outraging the modesty of Mughal Princesses at residence in Delhi Red Fort. Shuja took away all the trans- Ganges dominion of Rohilas including Nazıbabad and reduced Zabita Khan mere jagirdar of Saharanpur, which was the original land grant from Much Emperor to Ruhela Chieftain.

Having accomplished the set tasks, the Nawab Wajir returned to his province of Oudh. It was only a little more than 9 months after the celebration of his victory over Afghans and he could spend only 45 days at Faizabad when his sudden tryst with destiny came on 26th January 1775. His body taken to Gulab Bari and interned there in the mausoleum. Death of Shujah caused commotion in Faizabad. It is a tribute to the sagacity and deft handling of Sadr-i-Jahan Begum that nothing untoward happened. There was movement by the English regiment to guard the gates and factories of Faizabad. The Begum sent her personal confidant by the name, Elich Khan to find out the reason for presence of English troops at the Palace gates and instruct the officers of late Nawab to prepare for any eventuality. She cautioned Colonel Colvin through her emissary Elich Khan that in case the English nurture some evil design, she would immediately enthrone Asaf-ud-Daula and order her forces to fight the English. Colonel Colvin assured the Begum of no such complicity in the moves and the English forces were recalled from guard duty

Faizabad of Shuja-ud-Daula

The city of Faizabad attained its glorious times only under the Nawab Wazir Shuja-ud-Daula. He rebuilt the ramparts of the old Hissar, which was now called the fort. The residential housing of Mughals built inside were dismantled and asked all his personal servants to build houses outside the ramparts. All round the old Hissar, a 2miles (3.2 kms) wide land strip was left with a deep trench dug on the outer periphery to complete the fortification. All the military officers and the state officials were asked to construct their houses in the enclosed land area. The news of declaring Faizabad city as the capital of Oudh spread like fire. People from Shahjahanabad were ready to migrate to Faizabad. Most of the skilled craftsmen left Shahjahanabad for Faizabad. Everybody was streaming in and it was day and night processions of caravans that entered the city of Faizabad. The housing activity was at a frenzy pace since everybody wanted to acquire a piece of land and got busy in building a house.

Munshi Fyzbaksh who wrote Taarikh-e-Farahbaksh has provided lot of insight on the development of Faizabad city under Shuja-ud-Daula and whom Abdul Halim Sharar also referred in his Gujista Lucknow. Tripolia and Chowk bazaar also spruced up and their lead road started from the southern gate of the fort and went as far off to the corner of the Allahabad road. It was so wide that ten carriages could move simultaneously. The fashil or sabarpanaah of the city was at least 30 ft (9 m) in the center and 15 ft (4.5 m) on the top. Both regular and irregular forces squads used to march day and night and attended guard duty. The dress code of regular troops was red where as black was the color of irregular troops. During rainy season these troops on guard duty were provided shelter by building more than a lakh of bamboo structures that were removed after rains to avoid any possible fire.

There were two grazing grounds reserved for animals. One was from Gurzi Beg Khan Masjid to Guptar ghat and was provided with protective mud walls on both the sides. The third side was open towards Ghaghra River. Cheetahs, Nil gai, deer and Sambars were let loose in this sanctuary. They used to roam freely; The second sanctuary was spread on the eastern side of the city from the village Jannaura and Chhavni Gosain to the river. This sanctuary remained incomplete and the animals could not be released.

Three beautiful gardens were developed in the city, which attracted the Princes, nobles and other citizens to enjoy. The first one was Angoori bagh, which was inside the fort, and the second was Motibagh, which was in Chowk area, and the third one was Laal bagh, which was the largest of all the three. The Laal bagh was famous throughout the Oudh province and everybody had a desire to visit and sense the pleasure. There were trees, plants and flowers of all kinds. The ornamental layout and the riot of color of these plants and flowers were beyond description. The young men of Faizabad used to visit the garden in groups to feel and enjoy. The fame of the garden attracted even the Emperor Shah Alam who while in journey from Allahabad to Delhi, camped here. There were also the gardens of Asaf bagh and Buland Bagh on the road to Lucknow but they were not as famous as the other three.

Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula took great care of the city and used to make morning and evening rounds of the city, inspecting the condition of roads & buildings. The gang of laborers with their spades and shovels, used to follow the Nawab riding on his horse. If the buildings did not comply with the regulations and encroached any public property like road or empty land, the laborers were asked to dismantle the portion immediately. Such was the fear that people respected the state owned facilities and did not violate these.

It has been mentioned earlier that after the debacle of Buxar war, Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula paid special attention to the organization of the military. Murtaza Khan Bariz was one of the military leaders of repute and the two Gusains Himmat Bahadur and Umrao Gir were the other top military leaders of his army. Gusains were famous for their reckless assaults on the enemy irrespective of their might and weapons used. The Gusains took part in the battle of Buxar. There were other leaders too that were drawn from practically all the famous warrior castes and classes of those times, which included Sheikhjadas, Afghans, and Marathas. Each of them commanded at least 1000 troopers. Khawajasaras, chelas (slaves), and servants comprised of other groups in the army. Trainee Khawajasaras were additional support to the army. Raghunath Singh and Prasad Singh also had the command of 300 horses and foot soldiers of Hindu Thakurs. Maqbool Ali Khan-I and Maqbool Ali Khan-II and Yusuf Ali commanded 500 Mughal cavalry and foot soldiers. Shuja-ud-Daula artillery consisted of both heavy and light type, was famous in the north Hindoostan. It was very well organized and had the capability of long range heavy shelling at regular intervals to make breaches in the forts ramparts. Najaf Khan seize of Agra fort didn’t make much progress as he did not possess the breaching guns at that time. Najaf Khan sent request to Shuja-ud-Daula for sending his artillery to breach the fort occupied by the Jat Raja Nawal Singh. Shuja sent the artillery under the command of Swiss engineer Major Polier and the eunuch Basant Ali Khan. Heavy bombardment by the guns made the walls of Bangla burj crashing down and the Jat Commander surrendered the fort to Najaf Khan. Commander in Chief Sayyad Ahmad who was also known as Bansiwala was the overall in charge of the Oudh army stationed at Faizabad. The total number was red colored uniformed regulars 30,000 and black colored uniformed 40,000 irregulars. Besides these soldiers, Shuja-ud-Daula had employed 22,000 harkaras for carrying the messages and spies who brought news from Puna durbar every 7 days and from Kabul every 15 days, There was a large presence of Europeans in Faizabad, There were at least 200 French military advisors of Nawab Shuja who were employed to train the Oudh army in the modern warfare. Shuja was very particular to train his troops in the European model drill. Muhammad Bashir Khan was qiladar or incharge of the fort. He kept watch and ward over the fort ramparts and gates. His men resided in the houses built within the fort and there were barracks for the troops. Some of the military leaders when did not find place within the outer walls of the fort and the land area enclosed by the trenches, they decided to stay outside and built their camps and houses there. There were many such officers and their troops who resided between the cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad. The Peshwa and Nizam of Hyderabad also maintained their deputies in the court of Oudh to keep open the diplomatic channel all time. These missions maintained their offices and as well as own sepoys.

The city was full of people all the time and that made difficult for people to move. The bazaars were flooded with goods of quality, which were sold even at high prices. The merchants from China, Afghanistan, and Europe brought costly goods of all kind and sold these at much profit. Munshi Faiz Baksh met a motley crowd when he reached Mumtaj Nagar, which was 8 miles (12.8 kms) before Faizabad. It was hard for him to believe that he had not reached the city of Faizabad as yet. He found under the shade of trees along the roadside, a no. of food shops that carried a large variety of foods like sweets, kebabs, paratahas, salan, bakery items like naan khatais, drinks like sherbets, and faluda. Hundreds of people were engaged in skirmish to purchase these food items. He first thought that he reached the chowk area but on asking someone he was told that the gate of Faizabad city was still 4 miles (6.4) kms away. After he gained entry in the city, he came across colorful and entertaining scene everywhere. The entertainers of all kind were busy in showing their acts, which attracted a large no. of audience. Every time the trumpets were played announcing the presence of troops. Naubat was played continuously to inform the palace time to the people. The roads were busy always with the movement of carriages, animals of all kind and size from elephants to hunter dogs. Large cannons drawn by animals also passed through. The traffic never stopped and ever made it difficult for the people to walk. The city air carried aura and a strange feeling of awe. The high society gentry, Unani Hakims or the practitioners of indigenous system of medicines, high-class courtesans, famous singers and musicians from many far off places migrated to Faizabad and found employment under Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula. Everyone was flush with money and enjoyed a luxurious life, No other noble lived a lavish life style like of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula but the nobles tried to mould their living in that fashion. Every one of them was living a carefree life, ready to spend on any item of luxury. It attracted skilled persons or craftsmen of all kind. The city of Faizabad also grew in to a famed educational center that attracted students from various cities, provinces and countries like Bengal, Gujarat, Malwa, Hyderabad, Shahjahanabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Kabul, Multan and Kashmir. There was always a large presence of scholars who received the patronage of the Nawab.

Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula always showed interest in the music, dancing and company of beautiful women. Oudh already had established schools of music at Ayodhya and Benares. Shirki Sultans of Jaunpur aiso encouraged these art forms and their contributions also joined Ayodhya and Benares gharanas.Fame of Shuja-ud-Daula’s liberal patronage of artists of repute in music and dance, spread throughout Hindoostan. Soon artists from various places especially from Delhi started coming to Faizabad. Ghulam Rasul and Miya Zani, the two Qavvali singing experts came from Delhi to Faizabad and later in Lucknow they opted for singing Khayal. Ghulam Rasul’s son Miyan Shori started singing Tappa. A large number of girls skillful in the art of singing and dancing accompanied the Nawab wherever he went and entertained him. His avid interest in this pleasure activity attracted many courtesans from other provinces and countries. Practically every locality was full of such talented, beautiful women who were well versed in the art of singing and dancing. Their mebfils were brightly lit in the evenings where mujras were staged and the nobles vied with each other in showoff of their wealth by showering heaps of money and presents on these women of pleasure. Some of the most famous courtesans accumulated lot of wealth from the presents of Nawab and maintained beautiful tents called deras and retinue of servants. Ten or twelve Tailangs or sepoys were always employed to guard their tents. These courtesans accompanied with their tents and establishment, traveled with the entourage of Nawab when he went on his inspection tours of districts. The nobles unashamedly adopted this practice and made their every evening bright and colorful. The glory of Faizabad continued to some extent even after the death of Nawab Shuja-ud- Daula during Bahu Begum’s times but extinguished forever when she was also gone.

In postscript, a mention about Opium Kothi of Faizabad may not be out of place here. The existing office of Central Narcotics Bureau overlooking the vast expanse of lush green land and the serene Saryu River flowing in background, was once the Palace of Nawab Wazir Shuja-ud-Daula.The inscription on a slab put on the main gate reads, ‘Shuja-ud-Daula lived chiefly at Lucknow during early years of his reign. After his defeat at Buxar in 1764, he made Faizabad his residence. This building was the residence of Shuja-ud-Daula Nawab Wazir of Oudh from 1756 to 1775A.D. Shuja-ud-Daula died in early 1775.

Person and character

Jadunath Sarkar has quoted an unnamed English observer and also Jean Law who fought along with Shuja about the person and character of Shuja-ud-Daula. The English man wrote: “-Shuja-ud-Daula was not endowed with the genius of a soldier. He wanted that valor, or courage, which is ever shown in the event of common danger. He evinced through the Ruhela war a marked pusillanimity, sheltering himself in the rear and betraying evident signs of fear. He had acquired knowledge in the practice of every species of deceit, and could perform with facility every character that was necessary to conduct the various purpose of delusion or treachery. Generosity did not form a fixed part of his disposition. He was equally rapacious in acquiring, as he was sordid in preserving wealth. He committed actions derogatory from his station, as well as pernicious to his health. His harem was filled with wives and concubines, to the number, it is said. Of eight hundred, from whom were born to him fifty children. Jean Law observed: “Shuja-ud-Daula is the most handsome person that I have seen in India. He towers over the Wazir (Imad) by his figure-the latter being small-and I believe also by the qualities of his heart, but he was to yield to him (Imad) in all that relates to the spirit. He is occupied in nothing but pleasures, hunting and the most violent exercises”. Yet another observer, Dow has described him as “extremely handsome in his person, about five ft eleven inches in height and so nervous and strong that with one stroke of his saber, he can cut off the head of a buffalo. He is active, passionate and ambitious; his penetrating eye seems at first sight to promise uncommon acuteness and fire of mind; but his genius is too volatile for depth of thought, and he consequently more fit for the manly exercise of the fields, than for deliberation in the closet. Till of late, he gave little attention to business. He was up before the noon, mounted his horse, rushed in to the forest, and hunted down tiger or deer till noon of the day. He then returned, plunged in to the cold bath, and spent his afternoons in the harem among his women. Such was the state of Shuja-ud-Daula’s mind, till the late war (i.e. the campaign ending with the battle of Buxar). Stung with the loss of reputation; his passions have taken another course. His activities are employed in disciplining his army and his finances, than in dalliance with the ladies of his seraglio. His authority is therefore established, his revenue increased, and his army on a respectable footing. But with all his splendid qualities, he is cruel, treacherous, unprincipled, and deceitful”. All these comments of Dow seem to be true except the last sentence on which some may raise doubts. Even some of Dow’s own brethren like Franklin and Scott did not agree with the last written observations and they praised the Nawab for his qualities of head and heart.

A person is usually judged by the actions he undertook in his life. Why he took such action is generally not analyzed and conveniently left out. Shuja imprisoned Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal and appropriated all his wealth when it was found out that he coveted the subedari of Oudh and offered heavy bribe to the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam for the purpose. Shuja eliminated Quli Khan, the qiladar of Allahabad fort as English were secretly negotiating with him to handover the fort. Shuja meted out capital punishment to all those officers who left the field without giving any fight to the English in the battle of Buxar. The charges that he failed to maintain good relations with Marathas and Jats are to be looked in similar manner and one will get the answer. Marathas always wanted to weaken him and coveted Benares, Allahabad and a part of Doab. They had taken Etawah outpost once. Allahabad Fort was of strategic importance and Benares was on the route to eastern Hindoostan. Both Marathas and Jats were contending powers for a control of Imperial Delhi where as son of a former Wazir, Shuja considered himself fit for that role. Shuja was against the Afghans as an Imperial Wazir, he had to punish Zabita Khan for his misbehavior with women of royal harem in Delhi ort, annexing crown lands and non-payment of revenues. Bangash Afghan also did the same and they were punished severely. It is also said that Haider Ali of Mysore wrote a letter to Shuja-ud-Daula imploring him to fight English and not meekly surrendering to them as Shuja’s troops were rated the best in North Hindoostan. Shuja did not agree and replied that his forces were meant to defend the territories of Oudh and English were his friend. Shuja-ud-Daula had his fingers burnt in the battle of Buxar and knew quite well the strength of English men. Those were the times of survival and self-preservation Shuja loved his Hindu subjects as well and Hindus were also well disposed off towards him. Hindus were appointed to high posts and given all encouragement. Grants of lands were given to build religious institutions and there was freedom to practice one’s own religion.

Begums of Shuja-ud-Daula

It appears rather strange that both father and mother were of exemplary character where as the son’s indulgence in the basic instinct was conspicuous. There were 2000 women in royal harem and 700 wives. These secondary women did not wield power and not much is known about their exploits. The Chief Consort was Bahu Begum.

Bahu Begum was most remarkable lady of that age. She was Umat-ul-Zohra Begum, a daughter of Motman-ud-Daula, a Shia Leader in Mughal Court of Delhi and was holding the post of Diwan-i-Khas at the time of his death. Her marriage to Shuja-ud-Daula has been described in earlier pages. Shuja-ud-Daula considered the marriage as some kind of political settlement.

In the beginning, he neglected and therefore he was not able to gauge the qualities concealed in the heart and mind of his Chief Begum. She had the uncanny ability to judge a person, very intelligent, affectionate and very good in maintenance of relations. English visitors passing through Faizabad always enjoyed her hospitality.

Shuja-ud-Daula’s defeat by the English men at Buxar brought Bahu Begum closer to her husband. Every other person whom Shuja-ud-Daula approached for financial help, either refused or promised very little. Bahu Begum was exception that gave every valuable she had, to her husband. Shuja-ud-Daula was touched to the core of his heart by this gesture of her wife and since then he held her in very high esteem. From then onwards, Shuja-ud-Daula made it a point to give half of the amount of daily saving to Bahu Begum. She accompanied her husband to Benares and to assure him, she made herself present during the meeting with Governor General Hastings.

Bahu Begum knew the weakness of her husband for women. She had a pact with him that he would dine both the times of a day at her place and if he failed to spend the night in her palace chamber, he was required to pay a fine of Rs 5000 to Bahu Begum. She jokingly used to call Shuja-ud-Daula, a chor or a thief and the residences of his secondary women as Chor Mahal. Bahu Begum maintained her dignity. She never mingled freely with the secondary women of her husband but after his death, she allowed some freedom to them. She was otherwise very considerate to them. Once she wrote to English that these women were not getting their due pension regularly and if revenue of district Gonda was assigned to her, she would take care of these women The English granted her request.

She was a good wife to her husband even after his death and was very particular in observing his death anniversary and the necessary up keep of the mausoleum in Gulab Bari.



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