Annals and Antiquities of Rajas’than has now long been regarded as one of the chief English classics on India. Bardic traditional tales legends and historical records kept by the Brahmin priest of temples have been the source for the author’s information. In there two volumes the complete history of Rajas’than has been complied for the “Future Historian”. The only authoritative work of its kind in early twentieth century, Annals and Antiquities of Rajas’than remains a stupendous account of Rajas’than history, till date.
This volume builds up from the geography of Rajas’than and ends with the creation of Ajmer with a close look at its history, architecture, traditions and ancestry. There is a vivid translation of the inscription in the Rajput history.
This fascinating account begins with the genealogical history of the tribes of Rajas’than. It goes onto examine the feudal system prevalent and a detailed look at the annals religions establishments festivals and custom of Mewar.
Tod’s Rajas’than has for three quarters of a century been recognized as one of the chief English Classics upon India. It has for many years been out of print and the price of a copy has been prohibitive. It stands at this moment at twenty pounds. But the enormous length of the book – it is a long as eight ordinary novels – precluded any publisher from taking the risk of reprinting it as a whole though Messrs. George Rout ledge & sons Ltd had reprinted a portion of it.
Last year when H.H. The Maharaja Rana of Jhalwar the heir of Zalim Sing the great the hero who figures most largely in its pages was in England, I suggested to him that something ought to be done to prevent book of such value remaining inaccessible to students and he at once said that he was villing to share burden of any firm of publishers who undertook the republication.
I approach Messrs. George Rutledge & Sons Ltd. Who had made the former reprint and who make a specialty of resuscitating out of print Classics and they were equally prompt in accepting their share of the responsibility.
The result is that the libraries of Great Britain and India and the Empire will be able to place on their shelves at a popular price this indispensable and immensely valuable classic which not one in a hundred of them has previously been able to include in its catalogue.
On the life of Zalim Singh the Great Britian and India and the Prince who practically saved the British Power in India nearly a hundred years ago, I am at present engaged. It was the difficulty of procuring a copy of Tods Rajas’than for my work on this subject which led to my approaching the Maharaja Rana and Messrs. George Rout ledge & Sons Ltd. For its republication now happily accomplished.
Much disappointment has been felt in Europe at the sterility of the historic muse of Hindust’han. When Sir William Jones first began to explore the vast mines of Sancrit literature great hopes were entertained that the history of the world would acquire considerable accessions from this source. The sanguine expectations that were then formed have not neen realised; and as it usually happens excitements has been succeeded by apathy and indifference. It is now generally regarded as an axiom that India possesses no national history; to which we may oppose the remark of a French Orient list who ingeniously asks whence Abulfuzil obtained the materials for his outlines of ancient Hindu history? Mr. Wilson has indeed done much to obviate this prejudice by his translation of the Raj Tarringini or history of Cashmer, which clearly demonstrates that regular historical composition was an art not unknown of Hindust’han and affords satisfactory ground for concluding that these productions were ones less rare to light. Although the labours of Colebrooke, Wilkins Wilson and others of our own countrymen emulated by many learned men in France and Germany have revealed to Europe some of the hidden lore of India; still it is not pretended that we have done much more than pass the threshold of Indian science and we are consequently not competent to speak decisively of its extent or its character. Immense libraries in various parts of India are still intact which have survived the devastations of the Islamite. The collections of Jesulmer and Puttun, for example escape the security of even the lynx-eyed Alla, who conquered both these kingdoms and who would have shown as little mercy to those literary treasure as Omar displayed towards Alexandrine library. Many other minor collections consisting of thousands of volumes each exist in Central and western India some of which are the private property of princes and others belong to the Jain communities.
If we considered the political changes and convulsion which have happened in Hindust’han since successors we shall be able to account for the bigotry of many of successors we shall be able to account for the paucity of its national works on history without being driven to the improbable conclusion that the Hindus were ignorant of an art which has been cultivated in other countries from almost the earliest ages. Is it to be imagined that a nation so highly civilized as the Hindus amongst whom the exact science flourished in perfection by whom the fine arts architecture, sculpture, poetry, music, were not only cultivated but taught and defined by the nicest and most elaborate rules were totally unacquainted with the simple art of recording the events of their history the characters of their princess and the acts of their reigns? Where such traces of mind exist we can hardly believe that there was a want of competent recorders of events which synchronical authorities tell us were worthy of commemoration. The cities of Hastinapoor and Indraprest’ha, of Anhulwara and Somanat’ha the triumphal columns of Delhi and Cheetor the shrines of aboo and girnar, the cave –temples of elephanta and ellora are so many attestations of the same fact: nor can we imagine that the age in which these works were erected was without an historian Yet from the Mahabharata or Great War to Alexander’s invasion and from that grand event to the era of Mahmood of Ghizni scarcely a paragraph of pure native Hindu history (except as before stated) has hitherto been reveled to the curiosity of western scholars. In the heroic history of Pirthi- Raj the last of the Hindu sovereigns of Delhi written by his bard Chund we find notices which authorize the inference that works similar to his own were then extant relating to the period between Mahmood and Shabudin (A.D.1000-1193) but these have disappeared.
After eight centuries of galling subjection to conquerors totally ignorant of the classical language of the Hindus after almost every capital city had been repeatedly stormed and sacked by barbarous bigoted and exasperated foes; it is to expect that the literature of the country should not have sustained in common with other important interests irretrievable losses. My own animadversions upon the defective condition of the annals of Rajwarra have more than once been checked by a very just remark: “when our princes were in exile driven from hold to hold and compelled to dwell in the clefts of the mountains often doubtful whether they would not be forced to abandon the very meal preparing for them was that a time to think of historical records.
Those who expect from a people like the Hindus a species of composition precisely the same character as the historical works of Greece and Rome commit the very egregious error of overlooking the peculiarities which distinguish the natives of India from all other races and which strongly discriminate their intellectual productions of every kind from those of the west. Their philosophy their poetry their architecture are marked with traits of originality and the same may be expected to pervade there history which like the arts enumerated took a character from its ultimate association with the religion of the people. It must be recollected moreover that until a more correct taste was classical models the chronicles of both these countries and indeed of all the polished nations of Europe, were at a much more recent date as crude as wild and as barren as those of the early Rajpoots.
In the absence of regular and legitimate historical records there are however other native works (they may, indeed be said to abound), which in the hands of a skillful and patient investigators would afford no despicable materials for the history of India. The first of these are the Purans and genealogical legends of the princes, which obscured as they are by mythological details, allegory, and improbable circumstances contain many facts that serve as beacons to direct the research the historian. What Hume remarks of the annals and annalists of the Saxon Heptarchy may be applied with equal truth to those of the Rajpoot Seven States: they abound in names, but are extremely barren of events or they are related so much without circumstances and cause that the most profound and eloquent writer must despair of rendering them either instructive or entertaining to the reader. The monks (for which we may read “Brahmins) ‘who lived remote from public affairs considered the civil transactions as subservient to the ecclesiastical and were stirringly afflicted with credulity with the love of wonder and with a propensity to imposture.
The heroic poems of India constitute another resource for history. Bards may be regarded as the primitive historians of mankind. Before fiction began to engross the attention of poets or rather before the province of history was dignified by a class of writers who made it a distinct department of literature the functions of the bard were doubtless employed in recording real events and in commemorating real personages. In India, Calliope has been worshipped by the bards from the days of Vyasu, the contemporary of job to the time of Beni-dasa, the present chronicler of Mewar. The poets are the chief though not the sole historians of Western India; neither is there any deficiency of them though they speak in a peculiar tongue which requires to be translated into the sober language of probability. To compensate of their magniloquence and obscurity their pen is free: the despotism of the Rajpoot princess does not extend to the poet’s lay, which flows unconfined expect by the shackles of the chund bhojoonga, or ‘serpentine stanza’ : no slight restraint, it must be confessed upon the freedom of the historic muse. On the other hand there is a sort of compact or understanding between the bard and the prince, a better of “solid pudding against empty praise,” where by the fidelity of the poetic chronicle is somewhat impaired. This sale of “fame,” as the bards’ term it, by the court-laureates and historiographers of Rajas’than will continue until there shall arise in the community a class sufficiently enlightened and independent to look for no other recompense for literary labour than public distinction.
Still however these chroniclers dare utter truths sometimes most unpalatable to their masters. When offended or actuated by virtuous indignation against immorality they are fearless of consequence and woe to the individual who provokes them! Many a resolution has sunk under the lash of their satire which has condemned to eternal ridiculer names that the might otherwise have escaped notoriety. The Vis or poison of the bards is more dreaded by the Rajpoot than the steel of the foe.
The absence of al mystery or reserve with regard to public affairs in the Rajpoot principalities in which every individual takes an interest from the noble to the porter at the city-gates is of great advantage to the chronicler of events. When matters of moment in the disorganized of the country rendered it imperative to observe secrecy, the Rana of Mewar, being applied to on the necessity of concealing them, rejoined as follows “ this is Chaomookhi-raj ; eklinga the sovereign, I his vicegerent in him I trust and I have no secrets from my children.” To this publicity common foes ; but it gives a kind of patriarchal character to the government and inspires if not loyalty and patriotism in their most exalted sense feelings at least much akin to them.
A material drawback upon the value of these bardic histories is that they are confined almost exclusively to the martial exploits of their heroes, and to the rung-rin-bhom, or ‘field of slaughter.’ Writing for the amusement of the warlike race, the authors disregarded civil matters and the arts and pursuit of the peaceful life; love and war are their favourite themes Chunds the last of the great bards of India tell us indeed in his preface “that he will give rules for governing empires ; the laws of grammar and composition ; lessons in diplomacy home and foreign etc.” : and he fulfils his promise by interspersing percepts on these point in various episodes throughout his work.
Again : the bard although he is admitted to the knowledge of all the secret springs which direct each measure of the government enters to deeply into the intrigues as well as the levities of the court to be qualified to pronounce a sober judgment upon its acts.
Nevertheless although open to all these objections the works of the native bards afford many valuable data, in facts incidents religious opinions and traits of manners many of which being carelessly introduced are thence to be regarded as the least suspicious kind of historical evidence. In the heroic history of Prithi-raj, by Chund there occur many geographical as well as historical details in the description of his sovereign wars of which the bard was an eye-witness having been his friend his herald his ambassador and finally discharging the melancholy office of accessory of his death that he might save him from dishonour. The poetical histories of Chund were collected by the great Umra Sing of Mewar a patron of literature as well as warrior and a legislator.
Another species of historical record is found in the accounts given by the Brahmins of the endowments of the temples, their dilapidation and repairs which furnish occasion for the introduction of historical and chronological details. In the legends respecting places of pilgrimage and religious resort profane events are blended with superstitious rites and ordinances local ceremonies and custom. The controversies of the Jains furnish also much historical information especially with reference to Guzzerat and Nehrwala during the Chaulac dynasty. From a close and attentive examination of the Jain records which embody all that those ancient sectarians knew of science many chasms in Hindu history might be filled up. The party spirit of the rival sects of India was doubtless adverse to the purity of history and the very ground upon which the Brahmins built their ascendancy was the ignorance of the people. There appears to have been in India as well as in Egypt in early times a coalition between the hierarchy and the state with the view of keeping the mass of the nation in darkness and subjugation.
These different records works of a mixed historical and geographical character which I know to exist; rasahs or poetical legends of princess which are common; local Purnas, religious comments and traditionary couplets with authorities of a less dubious character namely inscriptions “ cut on the rock” coins copper-plate grants, containing character of immunities and expressing many singular feature of civil government, constitute as I have already observed no despicable materials of the historians who would moreover be assisted by the synchronism which are capable of being established with ancient Pagan and later Mahomedan writers.
From the earliest period of my official connection with this interesting country. I applied myself to collect and explore its early historical records with a view of throwing some light upon a people scarcely yet know in Europe and whose political connection with England appeared to me to be capable of undergoing a material change with benefit to both parties. It would be wearisome to the reader to be minutely informed of the process I adopted to collect the scattered relics of Rajpoot history into the form and substance in which he now sees them. I began with the sacred genealogy from the Puranas examined the Mahabharata and the poems of Chund (a complete chronicle of this times); the voluminous historical poems of Jesulmer, Marwar, and Mewar; the histories of the Kheetchies and those of the Hara princess of Kotah and Boonde etc. by their respective bards. A portion of the materials complied by Jey Sing of Amber or Jeipoor (one of the greatest patrons of science amongst the modern Hindu princess), to illustrate the history of his race fell into my hands. I have reason to believe that there existed more copious materials which his profligate descendant the late princes in his division of the empire with a prostitute may have disposed of on the partition of the library of the state which was the finest collection in Rajas’than. Like some of the renowned princess of Timur’s dynasty Jey Sing kept a dairy termed Calpadruma in which he noted every event a work written by such a man and at such an interesting juncture would be a valuable acquisition to history. From the Duttea prince I obtained a transcript of the journal of his ancestor who saved with such éclat amongst the great feudatories of Arungzeb’s army and from which Scott made many extracts in his history of the Dekhan.
For a period of ten years I was employed with the aid of a learned Jain in ransacking every work which could contribute any facts or incidents to the history of the Rajpoot or diffuse any light upon there manners and character. Extracts and version of all such passages were made by my Jain assistant into the more familiar dialects (which are formed from the Sanscrit) of these tribes in whose language my long residence amongst them enabled me to converse with facility. At much expense and during many wearisome hours to support which required no ordinary degree of enthusiasm I endeavoured to posses myself notmeraly of their history but of their religious notions their familiar opinion and their characteristic manners by associating with their chief and bardic chroniclers and by listening to their traditionary tales and allegorical poems. I might ultimately as the circle of my inquires enlarged have materially augmented my knowledge of these subject but ill-health compelled me to relinquish this pleasing though toilsome pursuit and forced me to revisit my native land just as I had obtained permission to took across the threshold of the Hindu Minerva whence however I brought some relics the examination of which I now consign of other hands. The large collection of ancient Sanskrit and Bakha MSS which I conveyed to England, have been presented to the Royal Asiatic Society in whose library they are deposited. The contents of many still unexamined may throw additional light on the history of ancient India. I claim only merit of having brought them to the knowledge of European scholars; but I may hope that this will furnish a stimulus to others to make similar exertions.
The little exact knowledge that Europe has hitherto acquired of the Rajpoot states has probably originated a false idea of the comparative importance of this portion of Hidus’than. The splendour of the Rajpoot courts however at an early period of the history of that country making every allowance for the exaggeration of the bards must have been great Northern India was rich from the earliest times that portion of it situated on either side the Indus formed the richest satrapy of Darius. It has abounded in the more sticking events which constitute the materials for history; there is not a petty state in Rajas’than that has not had its Thermopylae and scarcely a city that has not produced its Leonidas. But the mantle of ages has shrouded from view what the magic pen of the historian might have consecrated to endless admiration: Somnat’h might have rivaled Delphos; the spoils of Hind might have vied with the wealth of the Lybian king; and compared with the array of the Pandus the army of Xerxes would have dwindled into insignificant. But the Hindus either never had or have unfortunately lost their Herodotus and Xenophon.
It “the moral effect of history depend on the sympathy it excites,” the annals of these states posses commanding interest. The struggle of a brave people for independence during a series of ages sacrificing whatever was dear to them for the maintenance of the religion of their forefathers and sturdily defending to death and in spite of every temptation their rights and national liberty form a picture which it is difficult to contemplate without emotion Could I impart to the reader but a small portion of the enthusiastic delight with which I have listened to the tales of times that are past amid scenes where their events occurred I should not despair of trumping over the apathy which dooms to neglect almost every effort to enlighten my native country on the subject of India; nor should I apprehend any ill effect from the sound of names which musical and expressive as they are to a Hindu are dissonant and unmeaning to a European ear: for it should be remembered that almost every eastern name is significant of some quality, personal or mental seated amidst the ruins of ancient cities. I have listened to the traditions respecting that fall; or have heard the exploits of their illustrious defenders related by their descendants near the altars erected to their memory. I have whilst in the train of the southern Goths (the Mahrattas) as they carried desolation over the land encamped on or traversed many a field of battle of civil strife or foreign aggression to read in the rude memorials on the tumuli of the slain their names and history. Such anecdotes and records afford data of history as well as of manners. Even the couplet recording the erection of a “column of victory” or of a temple or its repairs contributes something to our stock of knowledge of the past.
As far as regards the antiquity of the dynasties now ruling in central and western India there are but two the origin of which is not perfectly within the limits of historical probability the rest having owned their present establishments to the progress of the Moslem arms their annals are confirmed by those of their conquerors. All the existing families indeed have attained their present settlements subsequently to the Mahomedan invasions except Mewar, Jessulmer and some smaller principalities in the desert whilst others of the first magnitude such as the pramara and Solanki who ruled at Dhar and Anhulwara have for centuries ceased to exist
I have been so hardly as to affirm and Endeavour to prove the common origin of the material tribes of Rajas’than and those of ancient Europe. I have expatiated at some length upon the evidence in favour of the existence of a feudal system in India similar to that which prevailed in the early ages on the European continent and of which relics still remain in the laws of our own nation. Hypotheses of this kind are, I am aware viewed with suspicion and sometimes assailed with ridicule. With regard to the notion which I have developed on these questions and the frequent allusion to them in the pages of this volume o entertain no obstinate prepossessions or prejudices on their favour. The world is too enlightened at the present day to be in danger of being misled by any hypothetical writers let him be ever so skillful; but the probability is that we have been induced by the multitude of false theories which time has exposed to fall into the opposite error and that we have become too skeptical with regard to the common origin of the people of the east west. However I submit my proofs to the candid judgment of the world the analogies it not conclusive on the question are still sufficiently curious and remarkable to repay the trouble of perusal and to provoke further investigation and they may it is hoped vindicate the author for endeavouring of elucidate the subject “by steering through the dark channels of antiquity by the feeble lights of forgotten and imperfect records”.
I am conscious that there is much in this work which demands the indulgence of the public and I trust it will not be necessary for me to assign a more powerful arguments in plea than that which has renders it a adverted to namely the state of my health which has rendered it a matter of considerable difficulty indeed I may say of risk bring my bulky materials even into their present imperfect form. I should observe that it never was my intention to treat the subject in the severe style of history which would have excluded many details useful to the politicians as well as to the curious student I offer this work as a copious collection of material for the future historian and am far less concerned at he ideas of giving too much, than at the apprehension of suppressing what might possibly by useful.
In placing before the public the concluding volume of the Annals of Rajpootana I have fulfilled what I considered to be a sacred obligation to the races amongst whom I have passed the better portion of my life; and although no man can more highly appreciate public approbation I am for less eager to court that approbation than to awaken a sympathy for the objects of my work the interesting people of Rajpootana.
I need add nothing to what was urged in the Introduction to the first Volume on the subject of Indian History and trust that however slight the analogy between the chronicles of the Hindus and those of Europe, as historical works they will serve to banish the reproach which India has so long laboured under of possessing no records of past events my only fear now is that may be thought redundant.
I think I may confidently affirm that whoever without being alarmed at their bulk has the patience attentively to peruse these Annals cannot fail to become well acquainted with all the peculiar features of Hindu society and will be enabled to trace the foundation and progress of each state in Rajpootana as well as to form a just notion of the character of a people upon whom at a future period our existence in India may depend.
Whatever novelty the enquirer into the origin of nations may find in these pages, I am ambitious to claim for them a higher title than a mass of mere archaeological data. To see humanity under every aspect and to observe the influence of different creeds upon man in his social capacity must ever be one of the highest sources of mental enjoyment and I may hope that the personal qualities herein delineated will allow the labourer in this vast field of philosophy to enlarge his sphere of acquaintance with human varieties. In the present circumstances of our alliance with these states every trait of the national character and even every traditional incident which by leading us to understand and respect their peculiarities may enable us to source their friendship and esteem become of infinite importance. The more we study their history the better shall we comprehend the cause of their International quarrels, the origin of their tributary engagement the secret principles of their mutual repulsion and the sources of their strength and their weakness as an aggregate body: without which knowledge it is impossible we can arbitrate with justice in their national disputes and as respects ourselves we may convert a means of defense into a source of bitter hostility.
It has been may aim to diversity as much as possible the details of this volume. In the Annals of Marwar, I have traced the conquest and peopling of an immense region by a handful of strangers and have dwelt perhaps with tedious minuteness on the long reign of Raja Ajit Sing and the thirty years war to show what the energy of one of these petty states impelled by a sense of operation effected against the colossal power of its enemies. It is a portion of their history which should be deeply studied by those who have succeeded to the paramount power for Arungzeb had less reason to distrust the stability of his dominion that we have yet what is now the house of Timour? The resource of Marwar were reduced to as low an ebb at the close of Arungzeb reign as they are at the present time yet that state surmount all this difficulties and being armies into the field that annihilated the forces of the empire. Let us not than mistake the supine ness engendered by long oppression for want of feeling nor mete out to these high spirited people the same measure of contumely with which we have treated the subjects of our earlier conquests.
The Annals of the Bhattis may be considered as the link connecting the tribes of India Proper with the ancient races west of the Indus or Indo-Scythia and although they will but slightly interest the general reader the antiquary may find in them many new topics for investigation as well as the Sketch of the Desert which has preserved the relics of names that once promised immortality.
The patriarchal simplicity of the Jit communities upon whose ruins the state of Bikaner was founded affords a picture however imperfect of petty republics a form of government little known to eastern despotism and proving the tenacity of the ancient Gete’s attachments to library.
Amber and its scion Shekhavati possess a still greater interest from their contiguity to our frontier. A multitude of singular privileges is attached to the Shekhavati federation which it behoves the paramount power thoroughly to understand lest it should be led by false views to pursuer a policy detrimental to them as well as to ourselves. To this extensive community belong the larkhanfs so utterly unknown to us that a recent internal tumult of that tribe was at first mistaken for an irruption of our enemies the Pindarries.
Harouti may claim our regard from the high bearing of its gallant race Haras and the singular character of the individual with whose biography its history closes and which cannot fail to impart juster notions of the genius of Asiatics.
So much for the matter of this volume with regard to the manner as the Rajpoots abhor all pleas ad misericordiam, so likewise does their annalist who begs to repeat in order to deprecate a standard of criticism inapplicable to this performance that it professes not to be contracted on exact historical principles Non historia sed particulara historia.
In conclusion I adopt the peroration of the ingenuous pious and liberal Abulfazil when completing his history of the Provinces of India: “Praise be unto God, that by the assistance of his divine Grace I have completed the history of the Rajpoots. The accounts cost me a great deal of trouble in collecting and I found such difficulty in ascertaining dates and in reconciling the contradictions in the several histories of the princess of Rajpootana, that I had nearly resolved to relinquish the task altogether but who can resist the decrees of fate? I trust that those who have been able to obtain better information will not dwell upon my errors but that upon the whole I may meet with approbation.
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