Rambles and recollections of an Indian official!
Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B.
Content for Empire between the Sons of Shāh Jahān
Under the Emperors of Delhi the fortress of Gwālior was always considered as an imperial State prison, in which they confined those rivals and competitors for dominion whom they did not like to put to a violent death. They kept a large menagerie, and other things, for their amusement.
Among the best of the princes who ended their days in this great prison was Sulaimān Shikoh, the eldest son of the unhappy Dārā. A narrative of the contest for empire between the four sons of Shāh Jahān may, perhaps, prove both interesting and instructive; and, as I shall have occasion, in the course of my rambles, to refer to the characters who figured in it, I shall venture to give it a place. . . .
1. 'The prisons of Gwālior are situated in a small outwork on the western side of the fortress, immediately above the Dhondha gateway. They are called "nau chaukī", or "the nine cells", and are both well lighted and well ventilated. But in spite of their height, from fifteen to twenty-six feet, they must be insufferably close in the hot season.
These were the State prisons in which Akbar confined his rebellious cousins, and Aurangzēb the troublesome sons of Dārā and Murād, as well as his own more dangerous son Muhammad. During these times the fort was strictly guarded, and no one was allowed to enter without a pass' (A.S.R., vol. ii, p. 369), Sulaimān Shikoh, whom Manucci credits with 'all the gifts of nature', was poisoned at Gwālior early in the reign of Aurangzēb, by order of that monarch, paternal uncle of the victim (Irvine, Storia do Mogor, i. 380).
The author, following Bernier, always calls Shāhjahān's eldest son simply Dārā. His name really was Dārā Shikoh (or Shukoh), meaning 'in splendour like Darius'.
2. The following twelve chapters contain an historical piece, to the personages and events of which the author will have frequent occasion to refer; and it is introduced in this place from its connexion with Gwālior, the State prison in which some of its actors ended their days. [W. H. S.]
The 'historical piece' which occupies chapters 37 to 46, inclusive of the author's text is little more than a paraphrase of The History of the Late Rebellion in the States of the Great Mogol by Bernier, as the disquisition is called in Brock's translation.
Mr. A. Constable's revised and annotated translation of Bernier's work (Constable and Co., 1891; reprinted with corrections. Oxford University Press, 1914) renders superfluous the reprinting of Sleeman's paraphrase, which would require much correction and comment before it could be presented to readers of the present day.
The main facts of the narrative are, moreover, now easily accessible in the histories of Elphinstone and innumerable other writers. Such explanations as may be required to elucidate allusions to the excised portion in the later chapters of the anthor's work will be found in the notes. The titles of the chapters which have not been reprinted follow here for facility of reference.
Annual Fairs held on the Banks of Sacred Streams in India
Hindoo System of Religion
Legend of the Nerbudda River
A Suttee on the Nerbudda
Marriages of Trees—The Tank and the Plantain—Meteors—Rainbows
The Purveyance System
Religious Sects—Self-government of the Castes—Chimneysweepers—Washerwomen —Elephant Drivers
The Great Iconoclast—Troops routed by Hornets—The Rānī of Garhā—Hornets' Nests in India
The Peasantry and the Land Settlement
The Silver Tree, or 'Kalpa Briksha'—The 'Singhāra', or Trapa bispinosa, and the Guinea-Worm
Thugs and Poisoners
Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—Suspension Bridge—Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—Deification of a Mortal
Legend of the Sāgar Lake—Paralysis from eating the Grain of the Lathyrus sativus
Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses
Basaltic Cappings—Interview with a Native Chief—A Singular Character
Birds' Nests—Sports of Boyhood
Feeding Pilgrims—Marriage of a Stone with a Shrub
Burning of Deorī by a Freebooter—A Suttee
Interview with the Rājā who marries the Stone to the Shrub—Order of the Moon and the Fish
The Rājā of Orchhā—Murder of his many Ministers
Corn Dealers—Scarcities—Famines in India
Artificial Lakes in Bundēlkhand-Hindoo, Greek, and Roman Faith
Pestle-and-Mortar Sugar-Mills—Washing away of the Soil
Interview with the Chiefs of Jhānsī—Disputed Succession
Interview with the Rājā of Datiyā—Fiscal Errors of Statesmen—Thieves and Robbers by Profession
Sporting at Datiyā—Fidelity of Followers to their Chiefs in India—Law of Primogeniture wanting among Muhammadans
The Suicide-Relations between Parents and Children in India
Gwālior Plain once the Bed of a Lake—Tameness of Peacocks
Gwālior and its Government
Contest for Empire between the Sons of Shah Jahān
Aurangzēb and Murād Defeat their Father's Army near Ujain
Dārā Marches in Person against his Brothers, and is Defeated
Dārā Retreats towards Lahore—Is robbed by the Jāts—Their Character
Shāh Jahān Imprisoned by his Two Sons, Aurangzēb and Murād
Aurangzēb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murād, and Assumes the Government of the Empire
Aurangzēb Meets Shujā in Bengal, and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dārā to the Hyphasis
Aurangzēb Imprisons his Eldest Son—Shujā and all his Family are Destroyed
Second Defeat and Death of Dārā, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons
Death and Character of Amīr Jumla
Reflections on the Preceding History
The Great Diamond of Kohinūr
Pindhārī System—Character of the Marāthā Administration—Cause of their Dislike to the Paramount Power
Dhōlpur, Capital of the Jāt Chiefs of Gohad—Consequence of Obstacles to the Prosecution of Robbers
Influence of Electricity on Vegetation—Agra and its Buildings
Nūr Jahān, the Aunt of the Empress Nūr Mahal, over whose Remains the Tāj is built
Father Gregory's Notion of the Impediments to Conversion in India—Inability of Europeans to speak Eastern Languages
Fathpur-Sīkrī—The Emperor Akbar's Pilgrimage—Birth of Jahāngīr
Bharatpur—Dīg—Want of Employment for the Military and the Educated Classes under the Company's Rule
Govardhan, the Scene of Kriahna's Dalliance with the Milkmaids
Declining Fertility of the Soil—Popular Notion of the Cause
Concentration of Capital and its Effects
Transit Duties in India—Mode of Collecting them
Peasantry of India attached to no existing Government—Want of Trees in Upper India—Cause and Consequence—Wells and Groves
Public Spirit of the Hindoos—Tree Cultivation and Suggestions for extending it
Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes
Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud- dīn
Marriage of a Jāt Chief
Collegiate Endowment of Muhammadan Tombs and Mosques
The Old City of Delhi
New Delhi, or Shāhjahānābād
Indian Police—Its Defects—and their Cause and Remedy
Rent-free Tenures—Right of Government to Resume such Grants
The Station of Meerut—'Atālīs' who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor
Subdivisions of Lands—Want of Gradations of Rank—Taxes
Pilgrims of India
The Bēgam Sumroo
ON THE SPIRIT OF MILITARY DISCIPLINE IN THE NATIVE ARMY OF INDIA
Abolition of Corporal Punishment—Increase of Pay with Length of Service—Promotion by Seniority
Thuggee and the part taken in its Suppression by General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., by Captain J. L. Sleeman
Supplementary Note by the Editor
Additions and Corrections