Raja Ram Jat

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Raja Ram (Hindi: राजा राम) (1670–1688) was a Jat leader and organizer of rebellion for freedom against Aurangzeb. He was chieftain of Sinsini in princely state of Bharatpur in India. Raja Ram was son of Bhajja Singh of Sinsini. Details about the early life of Raja Ram are not available. After the death of Gokula on 1 January 1670, Raja Ram kept alive the rebellion against the Mughals.

Raja Ram as organizer[edit]

Bhajja Singh along with his colleague Brajraj of Sinsini and their relatives prepared a small army of Sinsinwar and Kuntal gotra jats. Raja Ram organized Jat groups of different clans and united them under him.

Sogaria was a powerful Janpad of Bharatpur and its chieftain was Ramki Chahar. Sogaria Jats already had a castle at Sogar (4 miles south-east of Bharatpur). He took Ramki Chahar with him. He fraternized with the Jats of Sidgiri region (Bayana, Rupbasaia). He also befriended the Jats of Ranthambhor against the Amber ruler Ram Singh. On the basis of the contemporary dispatches it can unmistakably be deduced that Raja Ram proved a great rallying point and a great number of the Jats were united under his leadership. This way he completed an important work of bringing together the scattered and unorganized Jat power.

Military training[edit]

He planned to construct kuchha mud forts all around in the Jat-belt. He trained the young farmers as skilled soldiers. He educated the rebels to strictly obey the instructions of their chief.

Next, he began to organize his followers from the military point of view. He gave those military training and equipped them with firearms. He trained them in horse riding and weapons. He collected guns and other weapons.

He organized them into regiments placed under different captains. Simultaneously, he impressed upon Jats, the necessity of remaining disciplined and obeying their captains. Thus he imparted to them the semblance of a regular army.

The defense strategy[edit]

Raja Ram gave similar attention to the strengthening of his defenses, for he must have seen how Tilpat was easily stormed for lack of proper defense and thus sealing the fate of the Jat rising under Gokula. Raja Ram, therefore, built his forts in dense deep jungles and surrounded them with mud ramparts.

The forest-infested environs and the mud walls rendered them stronger than was the chief stronghold of Gokula. These forts served as bases for operations and refuge as also places for dumping the booty. As is apparent from his tactics, Raja Ram stuck to the traditional mode of the Jat warfare, popularly known as “Dhar” (guerrilla) system. All through he avoided positional warfare with the Mughals and confined himself to sudden and intrepid attacks. This ensured him maximum benefit with minimum loss. These changes proved beneficial and gradually contributed to the success of the Jat rebellion.

Raids by Raja Ram[edit]

Having thus prepared himself, Raja Ram began to organize raids in the countryside of the Suba of Agra. The Jats hovered on the roads and plundered the caravans and the travelers. The Subadar of Agra, Safi Khan, was virtually besieged in the Agra fort. Along with the other rebels the Narukas, the Panwars, the Gujars and the Mevs - they practically closed the roads for normal traffic between Dholpur and Delhi, and Agra and Ajmer via Hindaun and Bayana. How deep was the consternation created by the insurgents would be clear by one instance that in an important place like Mathura no place except Jama Mosque was deemed safe. Raja Ram also tried to ransack Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandara. But his attempt was foiled by the local faujdar, Mir Abul Fazl. He confronted the rebels at a place, 10 miles from Sikandara. The faujdar succeeded in repulsing them, though in the process he was seriously wounded and a number of his troops also perished. Raja Ram also suffered heavy casualties. Aurangzeb rewarded the faujdar with the title of Iltitifat Khan, increasing his Mansab by 200 sawars. Unsuccessful at Sikandara Raja Ram then fell upon Shikarpur and grabbed rich booty from the place. There from, he retired towards Ratanpur.

Worries of the Emperor Aurangzeb[edit]

Raja Ram’s mischief and disturbances went increasing. This worried the Emperor. On 3 May 1686 he appointed Khan-i-Jahan Bahadur Zafarjang Kokaltash in order to punish the rebels. Despite his strenuous efforts, however, Khan-i-Jahan failed to capture any of the Jat strongholds or to punish the people. Therefore, he ordered his son, Muhammad Azam to proceed against the Jats. But he had only reached Burhanpur (July 1687) when more pressing needs of Golconda compelled Aurangzeb to recall the Prince. Thereafter Bidar Bakht was sent (December 1687) to assume supreme command in the Jat war, while Khan-i-Jahan was to act as his deputy.

Raja Ram killed Aghar Khan[edit]

Meanwhile Raja Ram showed greater audacity. He fell upon the Mughal commander Aghar Khan. The Khan with his retinue was en route from Kabul to Bijapur when the Jats attacked him near Dholpur and fled away capturing many bullocks, carts, horses and women. The general gave them a hot chase but was killed in the ensuing skirmish along with his son-in-law and 80 other men. Two hundred Jats were killed in the action. The psychological gain from this audacious act was much more than the material one. Their success in killing and routing the reputed suppressor of the frontier Afghans must have whetted the audacity of the Jats. They carried their depredations further.

Early in 1688, Raja Ram attacked Mahabat Khan. who on his way to Lahore was encamped near Sikandara. A fierce fight ensued in which Raja Ram was finally repulsed after losing 400 men. The casualties on the other side included 150 dead and 40 wounded.

Raja Ram attacked Sikandara[edit]

After a short while, Raja Ram reappeared at Sikandara and taking advantage of the delay in coming of Shaista Khan, the governor-designate of Agra, he attacked and plundered Akbar’s mausoleum. The Jat leader carried away the precious articles of gold and silver, carpets, lamps etc. and destroyed what he could not carry.

According to Manucci the Jats dragged out the bones of Akbar, threw them angrily into fire and burnt them to avenge the death of Gokula. Muhammad Baqa (the Naib of Khan-i-Jahan) who was then at Agra, did nothing to frustrate the rebels. As a punishment, therefore, 500 and that of Khan-i-Jahan reduced his mansab by 1000 sawars. The Jats also ransacked the villages, set aside for the support of Taj Mahal. Some Jats ravaged the environs of Khurja, while others captured the local Mughal officers at Palwal.

One noteworthy fact is that the local Mughal officials and soldiers in general, winked at the disobedience of the Jats and even secretly entered into collusion with them to share the booty grabbed by them. It is also to be noted that Muhammad Baqa, the deputy of Khan-i-Jahan at Agra, had remained inactive while Raja Ram robbed Akbar’s tomb. This exasperated Aurangzeb and he reduced the deputy’s Mansab by 500 and that of Khan-i- Jahan by 1,000 sowars. Meanwhile, the daring and audacity of the Jats alarmed Aurangzeb and he ordered Raja Ram Singh (who was at Kabul) to chastise Raja Ram. But due to his sudden death the Raja could not resume his charge.

The battle of Bijal[edit]

Raja Ram, on the other hand, persisted with his refractory activities. His strength and resources now began to attract the attention of others.

During these days the existing feud between the Chauhans and the Shekhawat Rajputs over disputed land in Bagtharia (22 miles north-east of Alwar) and some other parganas had erupted into an open war. The Chauhans appealed to Raja Ram for help, while the Shekhawats implored the help of Murtaza Khan, the Mughal faujdar of Mewat.

Bilar Bakht, Rao Raja Anirudh Singh of Bundi and Maharao Kishor Singh Hada joined the faujdar and the Shekhawats. A severe battle was fought near Bijal. Opposite Raja Ram was the Hada Chief upon whom he inflicted a crushing defeat.

Anirudh Singh himself could not stand before the Jat onset. He became nervous and fled along with his troops. On Wednesday 4 July 1688, when the battle was in its full fury the gallant Raja Ram led a fierce charge against the centre, consisting of the Mughals. Meanwhile, a Mughal musketeer, who had hidden himself in a tree, fired at Raja Ram's chest. He fell down from his horse and died immediately. His fall signaled the defeat of the Chauhans. His head was severed from the body and later on presented to Aurangzeb in the Deccan (5 September 1688, 19th Zi-Qada, 1099 A.H.). Ramki Chahar was captured alive in the battle and was publicly executed at Agra.

Assessment of Raja Ram Jat[edit]

Thus perished Raja Ram Jat. As a leader of men and as a soldier, organizer and tactician, he was certainly more capable than any other preceding Jat chief, His influence upon the contemporary history has not been properly assessed so far. It was he and not Churaman II who, first of all, endeavored to transform his warrior followers into more or less disciplined troopers. The number of his regulars could not have been big but the credit of laying the foundation of a regular army, equipped with arms must be given to him. Then again, he highlighted the efficacy of the guerrilla tactics and defences by building the mud fortresses in dense jungles. It is apparent that his dashing attacks in the presence of larger Mughal forces not only restored the shaken morale of his people but also infused in them a vigour that enabled to withstand temporary reverses later on.[1]

Raja Ram aimed at, and succeeded also in forging, a joint front of his brethren as Churaman also did later on. But whereas Churaman through his indiscretion failed to preserve that unity, Raja Ram, through his tact and resourcefulness, maintained it. Disunity among the Jats did raise its head after his death, but it was not due to his policy but due to the disappearance of his rallying personality. A contemporary report (8 August. 1688- 20th Shawwal, 1099 A.H.) about this disturbed period testified to it,.[2][3] From this standpoint it would appear that as a leader of his people Raja Ram possessed better talents than Churaman. Raja Ram had deeper penetration into the individualistic and clan-conscious temperament of the Jats. If his dealings with the Sogaria and Ranthambhor Jats are a pointer, Raja gave due deference to them and tried to strengthen his leadership, by winning their gratitude and reposing confidence in them. It is true that Churaman II achieved far more success than Raja Ram, Who owing to his untimely death could not carry his policy and work to its logical conclusion. His mission was still in the offing yet he should not be deprived of due credit for laying down certain policies which facilitated the task of his successors including Churaman. At least the fortune that he amassed proved to be of immediate and definite help to them.[4] There is a little room for suspicion that be his stress upon a common leadership, the unity of various Jat clans, a regular force and a modified strategy for Jat defence a new and useful direction to the Jat affairs. It would not be off the mark to point out that had he lived longer, he might have taken winds out of Churaman's sails. Hence, there is insufficient ground to support the view [5] that Raja Ram work left no trace behind.[6]

The steps undertaken by Raja Ram leave an impression that he wanted to throw off the Mughal yoke and he entertained the dream of regional independence. His premature end, coupled with the relentless pressure of the imperialists later, shattered such political ambitions for the present. Yet it is apparent that the measure of success that Raja Ram achieved during his lifetime and the legacy that he bequeathed to the posterity proved in a corresponding degree detrimental to the interests of the Mughal Empire. So long as he was alive, he openly repudiated and practically eclipsed the Mughal authority in a big part of the suba of Agra. He held lawless sway over an area stretching from Delhi to the Chambal. His bands intermittently indulged in predatory activities. The Mughal officers failed to contain them. So great was the dread exercised by him that the contemporary opinion rated the feat of killing of Raja Ram alone as equivalent to the capture of Sinsini and killing of the Jats.[7] The perturbed Aurangzeb deputed one general after the other, to crush him and his Jats but to no avail. Even Bidar Bakht with his big forces was in effective against the recalcitrants.[8]

It is obvious that his persistent defiance often resulting in an utter rout of the reputed generals like Aghar Khan or in the object helplessness of great commanders like Khan-i-Jahan seriously undermined the prestige of the Mughal arms, so well established by Hasan Ali Khan in 1669-70. Though, taking advantage of the dissensions caused by Raja Ram's death, the imperialists temporarily repressed the Jats, the former awe and respect for the Mughal arms could not be restored and they resumed their offensive soon afterwards under Churaman.[9]

It needs no stress that their successful defiance encouraged other insurgents also. The royal highway passing through Delhi and Agra had been completely blocked by the Jat rebels. At a time when Aurangzeb was engrossed in unending Deccan wars, this blockade was bound to cause him deep anxieties.,[9][10]

Raja Ram's rebellion, besides making the political and military situation in the suba of Agra, also had its repercussions on the financial condition. There were areas where from no revenue collection had been made for some time. To give one instance, we learn from a letter to Bishan Singh that, owing to the disturbance created by the Jats, the mahals of Kol and Islamabad had been "ruined" and no revenue could reach the exchequer from them.,[11][12] There is ground to suppose that more or less the same situation prevailed in other parts affected by the Jat rebellion. We do not have records to check the exact financial loss to the Mughals. Even if it did not materially affect them it must have been a source of concern to them. The loss to individual wayfarers must have been indeed severe as they generally lacked military protection.[9]

It would not be inappropriate here to consider one aspect of the Jat revolt under Raja Ram as also other Jat leaders. In the wake of their military activities, Raja Ram and his bands perpetrated loot and plunder on the royal highways and in the countryside. Plunder assured enrichment in an easier and faster way. No doubt, this fact played its part in tempting people to the lawless course.[4] Notwithstanding, the point of plunder in the Jat movement cannot be magnified. To conclude that it was the sole motivating factor, or booty as such was its ultimate goal, is to oversimplify the facts of the situation,.[13][14] The harshness and exactions of the local officers and the robbery by their neighbors, Gujars and the like, also goaded the Jats into a predatory life. Likewise, the terrible retaliation by the Mughals in 1670 must have tended them to the same direction. The Jats had seen their houses and religious places being demolished, their property plundered, their women molested and males tortured by the Mughal soldiers. Stubborn and warlike as they were, they could not accept all this meekly. So when they got their opportunity they paid their enemies in the same coin. Further, the inadequate measures for safety of the war material and royal treasure sent to the Deccan through the Brij country offered them a natural temptation for plunder.[15] Finally, with limited means at their disposal the Jat chiefs, political ambitions understandably canalized in sudden and intrepid attacks, which besides enriching their material resources, also served to weaken the imperial authority. Thus it would appear that the predatory activities of the Jats were more circumstantial than instinctive and were employed by their leaders largely to serve as a means to an end rather than to be an end in themselves.[16]


Preceded by
Gokula
Bharatpur ruler
1670 – 1688 AD
Succeeded by
Churaman

References[edit]

  1. ^ G. C. Dwivedi, The Jats: Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003,p.37
  2. ^ J.Records, Darkar's collection (Pers. Ms.), XII,3, 7
  3. ^ Raghuvir Singh in Brij,166
  4. ^ a b Memoires des Jats (Fr.Ms.), 9
  5. ^ Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire, II (calcutta:1934), 426
  6. ^ G. C. Dwivedi, The Jats: Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003,p.38
  7. ^ J.Records, Sarkar's collection (Pers.Ms.),XII,3
  8. ^ G. C. Dwivedi, The Jats: Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003,p.38-39
  9. ^ a b c G. C. Dwivedi, The Jats: Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003,p.39
  10. ^ Memoires des Jats (Fr.Ms.), 11
  11. ^ J.Records, sarkar's coll. (Pers. Ms.), IX, 58-59, 375
  12. ^ Qanungo, 'Bishan Singh', Proc. I.H.C., Xi, 171
  13. ^ Satish Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740 (Aligarh:1959), Introduction,34
  14. ^ Habib, op. cit., 341
  15. ^ Raghuvir Singh in Brij, 164
  16. ^ G. C. Dwivedi, The Jats: Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2003,p.39-40

Further reading[edit]

  • Dr Natthan Singh: Jat - Itihas (Hindi), Jat Samaj Kalyan Parishad, Gwalior, 2004
  • Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934.
  • Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug (Hindi), Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982
  • G.C. Dwivedi: The Jats - Their role in the Mughal Empire, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Deli, 2003

External links[edit]