Saturday, 31 January 2015

Genocide of Santhal tribes of India and the British hunchmen - British India

 During the British occupation of India between 1600s to early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of innocent natives across the Indian subcontinent were killed by the colonial rulers in various violent revolts,etc against their misrule.These revolts were overshadowed by the major revolt"Sepoy Revolt"of 1857.The Santhal revolt of 1885 was one among them which did not hog the limelight as Sepoy revolt did. People will be surprised to know that 15,000 tribal people lost their lives in the major attacks carried out by the British agents backed by British troops. This unfortunate tragic massacre happened in remote hilly places of Bengal did not get world wide publicity.

In the 1800s the British East India company officers were bent on taking over as many lands as they could as part of their expansion program. After grabbing  lands, instead of  directly controlling the vast areas, they  alloted  them to the  agents - wealthy upper caste landlords and Zamindars in return for an annual rent or fee out of which they could make a small profit and much of the income would go to the British coffers. The British company in India was actually running a proxy government on behalf of the British Crown. In order to stay in competition with other European nations, in particular France and Dutch whose domain reached far and wide across the globe, the British  government turned a blind eye to the activities of the East India company as long as they could capture more lands and earn more revenue for the British treasury.
Santhal tribal dance, Jharkand,
The Santhals are tribal people of the present day state of  Jharkhand and before the arrival of the British they mainly resided in the hill districts of
Barabhum, Chhotanagpur, Palamau, Midnapur, Bankura and Birbhum,Cuttack, Dhalbhum, Manbhum. Their traditional major occupation was agriculture and they led a simple life for survival by clearing the forest and fields and hunting. Their rebellion took place in 1855-56 against the colonial rulers and their puppets - landlords and Zamindars.

For centuries these rustic and hard working people, who mainly depended on their lands, had maintained their cultural freedom and the agrarian way of life with out any interference from outsiders. During the British rule  under East India company they, for no reason, faced the worst crisis in their other wise peaceful life. Their lands were forcefully taken over by the agents  of the colonial rulers and ultimately pushed to the marginal places - something reminiscent of the native American Indians Choctaws in Mississippi and Alabama  who were the first to be resettled in 1832, followed by the Creeks (1836) and the Chickasaws (1837), later the resettlement of Cherokees by Jackson's Federal troops in 1838-1839 from Georgia to lands west of the Mississippi that left 5000 Cherokees dead on the Trail of Tears. This way the early American government helped the westward moving early pioneers settle in various Indian lands. The British Colonial agents in India were actually landlords or zamindars and they acted in collusion with the British sahibs. Santhals moved out of their traditional land and now settled in the hilly regions of Rajmahal after forceful occupation by the British agents.

Now other upper caste landlords and zamindars wanted to share the pie and  illegally claimed the new lands to which they moved in.

Santhal tribal people at
'Wherever some illegal and nefarious activities  were going on and if it was profitable, you would never fail to see the arrival of British Bobs on the scene for further exploitation for their advantage and this way they incurred the odium of the natives across India.'

The British government  was not aware of some of the company's dirty activities in the vast Indian subcontinent. The company officers skillfully played with the innocence and ignorance of these simple, unassuming hilly people because they were unlettered and unsophisticated. It was paradoxical that these tribal people at last ended up working as bonded laborers for pittance on their lands.
The landlords and money lenders enticed the Santhals particularly womenfolks to buy goods on loans with exorbitant compound interest.These people they paid as much as they could.However, many of them became slave to them for the default of loan and the interest that doubled the principal amount. To repay the loan and arrears, an entire generation of an indigent Santhal family had to work as slaves. Further, the most disgusting thing was, the Santhali women who  were forced to work  under  merciless labor contractors, were sexually disgraced and abused. Many women, under duress, became  concubines of  money lenders, zamindars and agents of the Raj. Their spate of atrocities on their community turned the Santhals into rebels and finally they took oath to launch an attack on the agents of the colonial rulers.

It began on June 30,1855 and on November 10, 1855 martial law was proclaimed which lasted until January 3,1856 when martial law was withdrawn and the revolt,  led by the four Murmu Brothers-Seedo, Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav, was brutally ended by troops loyal to the British rulers. The revolt occurred in the then Bengal Presidency and it was against racism and corrupt usury money lending practices, and the zamindari system and their operatives, in the tribal belt. The Santhals under the leadership of  Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu ran a parallel government to establish their legitimate rights. Finally they were forced to take to arms and resort to violence . In many villages the Zamindars, money lenders and their operatives were put to death. The open rebellion caught the British Government by surprise.

The British Government finally took a major step and sent in large number of troops assisted by the local Zamindars and the Nawab of Murshidabad to quell the rebellion.Major confrontations occurred from July 1855 to January 1856  in places like Kahalgaon, Suri, Raghunathpur, and Munkatora. The primitive, unsophisticated  weapons of the Santhals, weren't a match against the musket and cannon firepower of the British. The revolt of  60,000-odd tribesmen was brutally crushed, the two celebrated leaders Seedo and Kanhu were killed.

In the aftermath of the revolt over 15,000 were killed, and tens of villages were destroyed they did not get support of Gwalas (milkmen) and Lohars (blacksmiths). 'The pathetic aspect of this revolt was the tribes arrows did kill the soldiers, but when they retaliated by firing several volleys in to the tribes, they literally stood the ground  unmoved and then fell down like trees. These tribes never used their poison-tipped arrows on their enemies. Thus they knew the discernible difference between animals and humans and hence they never used the poison tipped arrows which were meant for hunting animals and not humans.' 

Whereas the colonial rulers hunted the scrupulous people as if they were wild wolves or dogs. To the Santhals it was not war and it was an honorable protest to get their lands back. That was all to it.

Charles Dickens in simple Words wrote -

"There seems also to be a sentiment of honour among them (Santhals); for it is said that they use poisoned arrows in hunting, but never against their foes. If this be the case- and we hear nothing of the poisoned arrows in the recent conflicts,-they are infinitely more respectable than our civilized enemy the Russians, who would most likely consider such forbearance as foolish, and declare that is not war."

This major Indian rebellion went unnoticed because it was overshadowed by other  revolts, besides partial censorship of news by the colonial media. The recent  creation of the tribal state of Jharkand in independent India was not only in recognition of pride and identity of Santhal tribes but also a tribute to their spirit of freedom and untold sufferings they bore stoically to drive the oppressive colonial rulers and their stooges -zamindars from their legitimate lands.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Fourth largest Jacob Diamond of Indian origin - no curses and no violence in the backdrop!!

The famous Jacob Diamond of Indian

The Nizam of Hyderabad,
Diamonds, the nature's most interesting and dazzling wonder, always attract the attention of the rich and the famous and it is out of reach for other people. It was more of a symbol of pride and power of affluence than a mere possession of a valuable gem. One may call it either a symbol of status or of vanity. This famous stone 'the Jacob diamond has no exciting stories in its background except that it was once owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad, India who was one of the world's richest men during India's independence struggle-before1940s. 

The famous Jacob Diamond, ranked fifth in the world, is a large diamond once owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad, India  and currently owned by the Government of India.  It was valued at £100 Million in 2008. The Indian government became the owner when Hyderabad joined the Indian Union soon after India's independence in mid 1947.

Originally the uncut diamond weighing 400 carats,  was cut to  size subsequently in Europe. The Nizam of Hyderabad  Mahboob Ali Khan

he famous Jacob Diamond of Indian
bought the diamond at an auction put up by Alexander Malcolm Jacob in 1891; hence the name ''Jacob Diamond.'' In order to go through the auction sale, the, Nizam was asked to pay an initial deposit on the diamond which he immediately  obliged, then not fully aware of the value of the diamond. Some legal problems cropped up as the Nizam's initial deposit towards sale, for some reason, got mixed up somewhere and the legal bottlenecks were finally resolved before the court. The Nizam was awarded the diamond for almost half of his original offer, 23 lakhs (2.2 million) Rupees (approx. $50,000 by 2005.

After the death of his father, the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, accidentally found the Jacob Diamond in the toe of his father’s shoe at Chowmahalla Palace. The Nizams never understood the value of Jacob diamond and the last Nizam himself  used it as a paper weight for a long time. When somebody drew the attention of the Nizam about the true  worth of the diamond, he subsequently kept it in the safe vault of Chowmahalla Palace  along with other valuable jewels as part of Nizam's treasures.Despite the litigation and the legal wrangles, the Indian government purchased the Jacob diamond for a sum of $13 million in 1995, along with other Jewels of the Nizams, and is held at the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai.

Incidentally, unlike many famous diamonds that have had violent background - murder, fluctuating fortunes, illness, etc of the owner, this diamond changed  hands a couple of times and had no sensational or mysterious stories in the backdrop. Nor did it carry  Hindu temple priest's curse or bad luck.

This diamond of Indian origin, first discovered in 1884, has a rectangular cushion-cut, colorless with 58 facets, and measures 39.5 mm long, 29.25 mm wide and 22.5 mm deep. Now it  weighs 184.5 carats (36.90 g).

Toppling of Indian kingdoms and making sucker out of Indian rulers - the British way -

Colonial India. Asian History -
British press' criticism of the East India company:  The widespread abuse of the ''Doctrine of Lapse'' introduced by the British East India company under the auspices of the British Crown at one stage reached its summit. The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy skillfully  devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the East India Company in India between 1848 and 1856. For the British, this doctrine was more a boon than a bonanza. Using it as an excuse in 1831, the British government  now deposed the Maharajah of Mysore Mummadi  Krishnaraja Woodyar  and assumed the direct administration of Mysore and the rule, under their supervision, lasted for 50  long years.
Maharajh of Mysore. Nalwadi Krishnaraja

Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah of Awadh, India,
Kingdom of Awadh,
During this period the  the East India company faced a barrage of criticisms from both the British public and press and it was clear the British Sahibs were overstepping on the legitimate  rights of the Maharajahs  and their legal heirs. At last, unable to face further criticism, on recommendation from the British crown 'rendition' took place in 1881; Chamrajendra Woodiyar was installed as the Maharaja of Mysore the same year. 

Kingdom of mysore1784 AD.
John Morley, Editor of the 'Fortnightly Review' and later a prominent member of the British Cabinet was highly critical of the policy of the British government with respect to the Indian subcontinent, resulting in  despising of England in Europe and the hatred of England in Asia. He said, ''We have abandoned  our legitimate influence in the west in order to annex in the East. We are making ourselves despised in one Continent in order to make ourselves hated in another Continent.''
Quick Take - As It Happens -
The following are some of the princely states taken away by the British under the Doctrine of Lapse:
Arcot (1855), Jhansi (1854), Kannanur (1819), Kozhikode (1806), Kurnool (1839), Nagpur (1854, Pañjab (1849),  Sambalpur (1849), Satara (1848), Surat(1842), Tanjore (1855), etc. The British East India company captured the various kingdom under the above policy just because of the fact the rulers did not have a legal heir, The tricky doctrine of lapse did not recognize an adopted son or daughter as legal and legitimate successor to the throne after ruler's death. It Had been a tradition among the childless Hindu parents to adopt a male or female kid as a legal successor and the law recognized it.The British, who were on a land grabbing spree, purposely excluded recognition of legal adoption as a clause in the new policy. As a result, many Rajahs lost their kingdom and the crown for no reason and there was no justification on the part of the British rulers to take away the land  and the royal privileges they had been enjoying for centuries. The belligerent kings  could not succeed and made a vain attempt to fight the mighty British to get back their kingdoms. 

Fall of the kingdom of Awadh:  

Awadh (now constituting part of Uttar Pradesh) was one of the richest and last territories to be annexed. In 1801, a ''Subsidiary Alliance'' (introduced by  Lord Wellesley, British Governor-General in India from 1798 to 1805) was imposed on Awadh, and in 1856 the kingdom  was taken over. Reason: Governor-General Dalhousie declared that the territory was being  misgoverned and there was no semblance of proper and orderly governance and British rule was needed to ensure proper and effective administration.

The Company officials, cunning as they were, even began to  hatch plans as to how to bring the Mogul dynasty down to the ground for good. They started off with the removal of  the  Mogul king's name  from the coins  being minted by the Company. In 1849  Governor-General Dalhousie announced that after the death of  Bahadur  Shah  Zafar, the family of the king would be shifted out of the Red Fort and given another place in Delhi to reside in. In 1856, Governor-General Canning decided that Bahadur Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after his death none of his descendants would be recognized as kings – they would just be called princes and their decision was final and irrevocable. Now the coast was clear for the unscrupulous and obnoxious British to take over the vast  Indian subcontinent completely.

''Shakespeare's most diabolical, disgusting and nauseating  character 'Iago' (of Othello) is just a pygmy before these Goliaths of scheming and corrupt autocratic British company officials.''

These two diabolical doctrines hatched by the foxy British Bobs were also among so many reasons that culminated in the form of a big rebellion called the Sepoy Mutiny (revolt) in 1857. The hospitable people of India were sick and tired of these nefarious and back-stabbing attitude of the company officials. Now, their emotional feelings, hatred and stoic sufferings were full to the brim. 

Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India; 3rd ed., pp. 226-28. Oxford University Press, 1989.
Rajput Provinces of India - Udaipur (Princely State)

Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 not based on one factor - greased rifle cartridges - British India

Sepoy Mutiny of
Many people are under the wrong impression that the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 that shook the very basic edifice of the British East India company- worst in the recorded British Empire history was  based on one factor. The supply of new En-field rifles with cartridges coated with tallow, purportedly containing the pig's fat or cow's fat to be used by pious Muslim and Hindu soldiers in the army, caused  wide spread anger and resentment.The use of greased cartridges was not the main reason for the major upheavel. The rebellion reflected the culmination of entire public frustration and rejection of misrule by the sneaky British company who had cheated the Indian natives and their dear rulers since 1600s. It was a total rejection of race-conscious British who mercilessly looted the rich Nawobs and Rajah
Santhal tribesmen India .en.wikipedia. org
s and poor peasants and artesian by simply using fire power and political gimmicks.

The British, who started off as a simple mercantile trader on a shoe-string budget under the British East India company, using dishonest means firmly planted the roots of imperialism under the auspices of the British Crown on the Indian soil. After the Battles of Plassey in 1757 & Buxer in1767 and later Allahabad treaties, the Mogul, Nawabs of Bengal and Awadh lost their power, wealth and vast lands. On the contrary the ''Diwani'' rights gave the British Sahibs  unlimited control over  these fertile and rich regions of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha  and tremendous opportunities to expand far beyond the subcontinent. The advantage they had was these recently acquired regions gave  them surplus money and muscle power to take care of their Indian operations and also needs of their motherland. They cultivated, opium, cotton, jute,tea, etc mostly export oriented produce that gave them extra dough with which through subjugation or annexation, they could further bring many regions under their control. The British Crown encouraged  further expansion of the land  under their indirect authority. The BEI  became an agent of British expansionism in India. As for Indian natives,including hilly people and tribes they lost their traditional lands where they had been  raising paddy, wheat, etc for their needs for generations.Their production fell down considerably.

The arrival  of  Wellesley 1798-1805, William Pitt Amherst (1823-28), George Eden (1836-42), Edward Law (1842-44), and James Andrew Brown Ramsay (1848-56; better known as the Marquess of Dalhousie)  gave a further impetus  to the Britisher's policy of ''divide and rule'' and expansion.  The new policies of ''the Subsidiary Alliance'' and ''the Doctrine of Lapse'' were very effective and they  saw a further spurt in annexation rendering  many princes and Nawobs  to lose their real power and pelf (sometimes their shirts and undergarments too!!)but retaining  their illusory traditional as well as funny British titles and  be content with them, besides some princely lands and yearly doles  bestowed liberally on them by the British Nabobs and Maharajahs. Later, British administrator Lord Canning was ruthless and merciless and he forced the last Mogul ruler out of their ancestral residence in Delhi. The Nawob of
Awadh was insulted and humiliated by the British. 

By 1850s almost all belligerent Indian rulers were at the receiving end of the British Sahibs whose tremendous success in India was not only due to their superior weapon power and sinistral diplomatic strategy, but also  due to their innate and ingrained manipulating diabolical strategies depending on the situation that gave them the edge. The lack of unity among the various  Indian rulers already divided by religion, caste, culture and languages gave the smart British yet anther added advantage which they fully exploited.Only a group of weak and gullible Indian rulers who blindly toed their lines and became ''Yes Masters'' added lubricant over which the British masters rode their chariot with ease.

At one point of time, the foreign  rulers decided to westernize the Indians (who were supposed to be savages fresh out of the Jungle) and make them  familiar with the western  technical knowledge for their future benefits. They thought once they became civilized and competent enough and be on their own to administer  vast  Indian subcontinent,then only they would give them political freedom. Till such a time  British Masters would act as their pr-toge or trustee. In all these years of their unscrupulous activities that aimed at keeping the Indians divided, they earned only the hatred of people across India in particular North.

With overwhelming sense of racial and class superiority, the British had scant respect for India's past glory, economic power and ancient civilization. Nor did they  appreciate India's  ancient tradition, heritage and languages. Discrimination in  government services was rampant and this further angered Indians.

The Sepoy rebellion was  the out come of not one primary factor - Enfiled rifles supplied with paper cartridges coated with tallow but many other factors also triggered it. Right from princes to paupers, police to low grade public servants, every body despised the British Sahibs was up against them. The Sepoy rebellion,the biggest and long-drawn rebellion in  the British history became a subject of discussion and debate world over. It tore the mask of British rulers whose native land prospered at the cost of India's suffering masses.The British media in order to divert the attention of the public opinion in England presented concocted, stunted and wrong information on the causality of British subjects in the wake of Sepoy rebellion branding the Indians as savages.beside the Sepoy revolt, there were also other rebellions like Sanyasi-Fakir rebellion of 1770 Santhal revolt of 1856, etc.They used repressive forces to quell the rebellion and in the process they hanged numerous Hindu sanyasis -monks in the revolt and killed 15,000
Santhal tribesmen and destroyed their villages. The tribal people protested against the agents of the British - zamindars-land lords who took over their lands backed up by the British officers.

 No sooner had the British rulers put down the Sepoy mutiny after their long-drawn struggle,than the British Crown took over the direct rule of India in the following year and assured the people of India of their just rule, non interference in the administration of princely kingdoms, religion, and no further expansion or annexation of new lands and kingdoms. Now, the British East India company(1600s) that laid the foundation became almost nonexistent. 
Baker, David (1991), "Colonial Beginnings and the Indian Response: The Revolt of 1857–58 in Madhya Pradesh", Modern Asian Studies 25 (3): 511–543,

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Warren Hastings and the man who saved his life -- British India

Memorial in Kolkata, Hastings in his toga,with Hindu and Muslim
Success in life can't be achieved by hard work alone. Hard work will definitely put one in a better position to achieve one's  goal. The most important thing to taste success is one should know how to take failures in the right spirit, but at the same time should make every attempt to make the best out of every opportunity available to him. Definitely one's hard work and commitment will bear fruits.

The founder of the Cossimbazaar house in Bengal (now West Bengal) was one Kali Nath Nandy of Shijna  under Manteshwar police station area, in Burdwan district. His grandson, Radha Krishna Nandy, ran a shop where he sold silk, kites and betel-nuts. His eldest son, Krishna Kanta Nandy, better known as Kanta Babu, rose to power, eminence and wealth under the patronage of Warren Hastings, Governor of Bengal, who first came to Murshidabad in 1753 AD. He was a competent,, controversial and far-sighted administrator that improved the future Angelo Indian relationships. However in the matter of corruption, like Robert Clive the media was highly critical of him.

At that time Cossimbazaar was an important  commercial hub. From Shijna village  Kanta Babu's ancestor's came to Sripur, to try their fortune in trade with the Europeans. There are two views about who first settled at Sripur. Some beleive that it was Kali Nath Nandy, while others believe that it was Kali Nath Nandy's son Sitaram Nandy (father of Radha Krishna Nandy), was the first to settle at Sripur, Cossimbazaar. Let us set aside this debatable issue for a moment.

The Cossimbazaar family was long connected with the silk business, mainly provision of raw silk and silk goods to the English Company. Their silk business focused on foreigners, particularly the British. The first beneficial connection of the family with the new British administration began at the time of Kanta Babu, who was an expert in silk and his expertise in silk material and trade drew the attention of many Europeans. He was good at testing the quality of silk and many people sought his advice. His frequent business dealing with the British company provided an opportunity for him to have close contact with Warren Hasting. Kanta Babu not only won the admiration of Hastings but also earned his trust which led him to appoint Kanta Babu as  a writer as soon as Hastings became a Commercial Resident at Cossimbazaar. 

The intimacy grew so much closer,  that when the new farming system of Hastings (1771-1777 AD) was in force, this enabled Hastings to distribute favors among his favorites. This resulted in the partial suppression of many old zamindars (landlords) of Bengal. Kanta Babu managed to get some of the valuable estates, thanks to Hastings' largesse and munificence  including the rich Baharband  pargana of Rangpur, the first estate in Bengal to be 'permanently settled' with very low revenue demand. The pargana of Baharband was donated by Rani Satyabati  (who left for Benaras), to Rani Bhavani.

While Hastings was  the Commercial Resident of The East India Company at Cossimbazaar,  the relationship between the English company and Siraj-ud-Daulah, then Nawab Nazim of Bengal was at the lowest ebb.  There was rampant corruption among the EIC officials  and Hastings, being corrupt, never paid attention to this menace. Infuriated Siraj ordered the  arrest of Hastings for extortion and bribery as the nefarious activities went far beyond the limits of tolerance. . At that point of time after Clive, many British officers did not have clean hands and wanted to become rich overnight. On orders from Nawob Siraj, the settlement was seized and Hastings sent as prisoner to Murshidabad. However, Hastings on the way, managed to escape  while the Nawab was marching on to Calcutta. A re-capture was ordered and the Nawob's soldiers were on the look out for Hastings whose position became serious. Undaunted, Hastings took counsel with Kanta Babu, who was known to him in connection with his employment in the East India Company's affairs. Hastings was sheltered in Kanta Babu's house and then taken in a boat down to Calcutta. In this regard Kanta Babu took enormous risk. Had he been caught in sheltering the enemy of Nawob, he would have been hanged to death. In appreciation of this sincere and daring service rendered him at the right time, Hastings promised Kanta Babu to advance him in life when circumstances should be favorable.

After the battle of Plassey, Warren Hastings was appointed Agent of the East India Company in the court of Mir Jafar, the puppet Nawob of Bengal installed by the East India company. In 1761 AD he was promoted to the office of member of council in Calcutta and later he returned to England in 1764 AD. In 1769 AD, he returned to India as member of council at Madras,south India and subsequently in 1772 AD, he succeeded Mr. Cartier as  the Governor of Bengal. No sooner had he been appointed as the Governor of Bengal in 1772, than Warren Hastings sent for Kanta Babu, and employed him as his ''Banyan'' ( business agent ). About this time Kanta Babu was directly, or indirectly, the superintendent of several highly productive Zamindaries. But being not well versed in Zamindary he was associated with Dewan Ganga Gobinda Sinha, the founder of the Kandhi Raj Family. Ganga Gobind Sinha rendered most valuable assistance to his friend Kanta Babu. For the purpose of keeping always near him, he had built a house at Charakdanga near Pathuriaghata,later known as Lala Babu's house.

In 1775 AD (Bengali: 1181 ), the Zamindary of Baharband was forcibly acquired by Hastings and was given to Lokenath son of Kanta Babu on Lease. Later in 1179 AD (Bengali 3 bhadra 1183 ) the lease was settled on Rs 82,639. By the year 1773 AD, Kanta Babu possessed, or was concerned in the Zamindary of no less than 19 parganas or districts, in different parts of Bengal. The united rent-roll of which was:  in 1776 AD, it was 13,88,346.00, rupees; and in 1777 AD the last year of the existing or near settlement, it was 14,11,885.00 rupees. At the end of the second year, he was allowed to relinquish three of the farms, on which there was an increasing rent.

When on 14 August 1781 AD, Hastings marched against Raja Chait Singh  King of Kashi ( Benares), Kanta Babu accompanied him as his Dewan. Chait Singh was defeated; Kanta Babu influenced Hastings to Protect Panna, the Queen of Chait Singh and other women from oppression, and provided a safe passage for them. Queen Panna felt gratified and gifted Kanta Babu jewelries and offered a Lakshmi-Narayan Sila ( statue made of shaligrama), a Dakshinavarta Shankh  ("right-turned" conch shell or  valampuri sangu (which is a rare one) and a one faced Rudraksha worn my pious Hindus . On his return, Hastings bestowed upon Kanta Babu a jaghir, in Ghazipur, and obtained from the then Nawab Nazim the title of "Maharaja Bahadur", for his son Lokenath. Kanta Babu received as a present the Sang-i-dalan (Marble Hall) of Benares. This was removed and re-erected at the Cossimbazaar Palace. The Lakshmi-Narayan Sila (statue) was installed at his Palace. The Sila, Shankh and Rudraksha are preserved at the Garbhagriha ("womb chamber" or the innermost sanctum of a Hindu temple where resides the idol or icon of the primary deity of the temple) of the Cossimbazaar Palace Lakshmi-Narayan Temple.

Kanta Babu died in 1778 AD (Pous 1185 B.S.), leaving a vast property in several districts of Bengal, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Burdwan, Nadia, Birbhum, Pabna (in Bangladesh), Murshidabad, Faridpur (in Bangladesh), Rajshahi (in Bangladesh), Bogra (in Bangladesh), and the 24 Parganas, besides the jagir in Ghazipur. All these were bestowed on Kanta Bubu by a British  officer of great repute as a token of his gratitude to him who saved his life risking his own.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The large fine quality Taj-I-Mah diamond of Indian origin, now in the Royal Iranian collection.

The Taj-I-Mah diamond of Indian,
The Taj-I-Mah, meaning ''Crown of the Moon,'' in Persian is a diamond of Indian origin, positively from the Golconda mines of south India, now kept in the Royal Iranian treasury. It is also the largest unmounted Indian diamond of fine quality, colorless, mogul cut and  weighing 115.06 carat. size: 32.0 × 24.3 × 14.7 mm. It is one of the three legendary Indian diamonds in the Iranian collection, the other two being the Darya-I-Nur (Sea of Light) and the Nur- ul-Ain (Light of Eye). The previous weight of the stone was 146 carats, as reported by one  Sir John Malcolm,British administrator and diplomat on his visit to Persia. He was permitted by  the then  Shahanshah Fath Ali Shah to examine the royal collection. The Darya-i Nur weighing 186 carats and the "Taj-i-Mah weighing 146 carats were important diamonds in a pair of bracelets. The Taj-i-Mah  stone seems to have been re-cut after the early 19th century, hence the weight was reduced to 115.06 carats from original size. This diamond was part of Mogul treasury until 1739 and at later period ended up in Persia. Thanks to the invasion of Nadir Shah, who plundered the Indian cities of Delhi and Agra  during the reign of Muhammad Shah.
   Muhammad Shah-during whose rule Nadir Shah-invaded-Delhi-and-Agra.
Though this high quality diamond had been with the Mogul dynasty for some time, the puzzle still continues as to the first discovery of this diamond, name of the Mogul king, year and mode of acquirement - through war or purchase from diamond traders! The nature and qu
ality of diamond  point out

Sir John Malcolm.
this diamond came from the famous Kollur mines near Golconda where diamond mining activities had been going on for more than 100 plus years. Invariably many of the world class diamond came from Kollur mines.

After the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747 by his own commander, his son Shah Rukh inherited the vast treasures. His reign did not last long, later ruler  Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar of  the Qajar dynasty of Iran, captured Shah Rukh and his vast treasures. Tragedy again struck this time his own servants killed ruler Agha in 1797, Fath Ali Shah,nephew of Agha  inherited all the crown jewels. In the early 19th century. Some  experienced gem experts question the validity of classifying the Darya-I-Nur and the Taj-I-Mah worn by Fath Ali Shah in one of his armbands. as sister stones. The former is a pink diamond and the latter - Taj-I-Mah is colorless, very much similar to Kohinoor. It is still the largest unmounted Indian diamond in the collection.


380 to 414 AD old Chatrapati Manik Ruby once worn by king Vikramadiya of Ujjain, India.

380 to 414 AD Chatrapati Manik Ruby once worn by kingVikramadiya of Ujjain,

The “Chatrapati Manik Ruby,(Sanskrit name meaning Supreme King’s Gemstone), one of the oldest rubies in the world dating back to 380-415 AD, was one of the valuable precious gems set on the crown of  Chandragupta II, also known as Vikramaditya (son of valour) of Ujjain (now in Madhya Pradesh,India). Legend has it Vikramadiya had valuable nine gems of different types each representing a planet including this ruby set in his crown on his Royal Court Astrologers' advice appropriate to his horoscope and corresponding position of the planets.

This oval cabochon-cut ruby of exceptional quality with dimensions of 25.4mm x 31.75mm and an original weight of 20.7 carats has a thick rich crimson color.  The “Chatrapati Manik,” a valuable gemstone of the 4th century AD might have originated from a ruby mine in the Shan Plateau, and later found its way to one of the cities of the Gupta. From Vikram's successors, the ruby changed hands and fell into the collection of the last ruler of Golconda Sultan Abdul Hussein Qutb Shah of  Qutb Shahi dynasty. In the year 1687, the great Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb sent an army headed by his son, to attack and capture the kingdom of Golconda. Also known by the name of Tana Shah was defeated in the battle and the famous ruby found its way into the vast collection of jewels of Aurngazeb. The Mogul ruler had the inscription removed from the ruby in its place had his name inscribed on the gem.

At Murshidabad, in Bengal, lived a wealth family of bankers, believed to be the richest in the world. The family members often bestowed lavish gifts upon the Mogul and thus became closer to the mogul family. On one occasion Aurangazeb returned his gratitude  by presenting the Chatrapati Manik brick red ruby  along with a book of verses to the banker's family. Later, one Lala Kalkadas of Lucknow acquired the famous ruby and traded a number of gems for the ruby and book. Aurangzeb's seal was ground off the gem at this point of time.  During the Indian Mutiny of 1857–58,  a chaotic situation developed in many northen Indian cities as the revolt against the  British East India company's oppressive and in the melee the book was lost. However, Lala Budredas, son of Lala Kalkadas, managed to keep the ruby. He later moved over to Calcutta, where he had it mounted into a new tiara, befitting the historical ruby that had once adorned the crown of Vikramaditya, Chatrapati of India.

In the year 1934, the “Chatrapati Manik” re-appeared in London, as the centerpiece of a diamond tiara.  The current location of the “Chatrapati Manik” is not known. The puzzle over the whereabouts of this most ancient stone once worn by the great king Vikram of Ujjain is not solved yet. Lots of gem stone enthusiasts are groping in the dark.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Infamous largest Timur Ruby of Indian origin !! - in the British Crown

.Queen Victoria.
 The Timur  ruby, part of the British Crown  Jewels  is an un-faceted, 352.5 carat polished red Sp inel gemstone set in a necklace of Oriental inspiration in 1853  by  the Royal  jeweler Garrard. The necklace was then lengthened  in 1911. However, the most valuable necklace had never been worn by  any British Royal member.  Until 1851 it was regarded as the largest known ruby in the world and only later it was found out it was not ruby, but was only a Spinel gem stone. Jahangir Shah, the Mogul Emperor of India, got  this famous ruby as a gift from Shah Abbas,  his buddy in 1612. 
  The Timur Ruby of Indian origin in the British
 Jahangir Shah, as it was his wont to have his name inscribed on gemstones,  diamonds, etc.,  got his name inscribed on the ruby. The early inscription on it, It is believed, was removed before it was gifted to Jahangir Shah. Later it was in possession of successive  Mogul rulers and Shah Jahan, during his reign 1628 and 1658, had this enormous stone mounted on his  famous peacock throne. After Aurangazeb (1658-1707), his successors kept the ruby  safely,  but during the period of Muhammad Shah (1719 -1748), the great  conqueror of Iran, Nadir Shah, motivated by his ambition to capture  the enormous wealth of the Mogul empire, invaded India, and plundered the Mogul capitals of Delhi and Agra in February, 1739. His plundering spree that lasted a few months yielded fabulous treasures (worth roughly one billion dollars) including, peacock throne and a variety of expensive gems and diamonds including the Nur-ul-Ain, the Darya-i-Noor, Kohinoor diamond, Timur Ruby, etc. 

Timur Ruby had spent 60 years locked away in obscurity, and it was finally recognized by the inscriptions carved on the gem. The longest of the six inscriptions is  written in Persian:  "This is the Ruby from the twenty-five thousand genuine jewels of the King of Kings the Sultan Sahib Qiran,(also known as Timur) which in the year 1740 A.D. from the collection of jewels of Hindustan, reached this place (Isfahan)."  Timur, a direct descendant of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan, until his death in 1405 A.D had annexed more lands than anyone in history. He acquired the gemstone during his 1398 raid on Delhi in India, hence its name the Timur Ruby.

After the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, the administration of the slain king's kingdom was in disarray, Ahmed Khan Abdali, commander of Nadir Shaw's huge army captured Shah's vast jewelry collections,  including Timur ruby and Kohinoor diamond, etc and settled in Afghanistan. After his death, Timur ruby and Kohinoor diamond fell in the hands of Shah brothers. One of them Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk 1810 after killing his brother escaped to Lahore, Punjab where he was given asylum by Raja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. Later, driven by greed, Raja Ranjit singh himself became the owner of Kohinoor diamond and also Timur ruby after forcefully capturing them from Shah Shuja.

The Timur Ruby of Indian origin
After the death of Ranjit Sigh, the administration was in a chaotic state as a result of succession problems among the sons of the ruler. Finally Dulip Singh, a minor then and the last of Ranjit Singh’s sons, was installed as king, with his mother Jindan Kaur as regent to take care of the administration for the minor legal heir.  At that time, using the 'Doctrine of lapse' as a ruse, British forces declared war on Punjab and finally captured it,  including Raja's personal jewelery collections.The Lahore treaty (9th March,1846) was concluded, for the British by the Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge and two officers of the East India Company and for the Sikhs, by the seven-year-old Maharaja Duleep Singh Bahadur and seven members of the Lahore Durbar acting on his behalf. The Governor-General of India received the Kohinoor,Timur Ruby, etc from Dr. John Login, in charge of the Toshakhana (Royal Treasury), Royal Fort, Lahore, under a proper receipt dated December 7,1849, in the presence of the members of the Board of Administration.

Thus the British Crown became the permanent owner of the most famous (actually infamous) precious stones including large Timur Ruby which is actually a Spinel via the ‘The British East India Company,' a trading company established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. This company, during their  misrule in India under the blessings of the British Crown, literally not only swindled India's rich Maharajas and Nawobs but also drove the Indian people to face abject poverty, dejection and  emancipation. The Timur Ruby and other precious stones left the shores of India for good from Bombay on the 6th of April, 1850 and formally handed over to  Queen Victoria in a ceremony held on July 3,1850, at Buckingham Palace by Sir J. W. Logg, Deputy Chairman of the East India Company, in the presence of Sir John Hobhouse. The Timur Ruby is now in  the private  collection of  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Timur Ruby was officially cataloged as a “short necklace of four very large Spinel rubies.”

Yet another infamous gemstone - the Timur Ruby (Spinel), was added to the Queen’s jewelry inventory, the other being the  Koh-I-Noor diamond.

Encyclopedia Britannica 2006.

Hughes, R.W - The Rubies and Spinels of Afghanistan.A brief history 2004.

Judge William Jones who made Sanskrit popular among European scholars

William Jones ((28 September,1746-27 April,1794)
William Jones ((28 September,1746 - 27 April 1794), Lawyer by profession, came to work in India for the British East India company as a judge. He was a polyglot, quite proficient in many European languages as well as Arabic and Persian. Hence many people considered him hyper polyglot. His flair for languages drew the attention of the most ancient  language of the world and native to the Indian subcontinent - Sanskrit. He developed a keen interest in the study of Indian culture and civilization. During his stay in India for 11 years from 1783, realizing the potential, antiquity and advance grammar and structural pattern  of the Sanskrit language, not only did he learn it with the help from learned Pandits but also  introduced it to Europe the ancient culture, heritage and and merits of Indian literature, languages, and history. Just like him, there were other British officers such as Harry Thomas Colebrooke and Nathaniel Halhed who also wanted the western world to know about India, and its history, culture, etc. He,with support from his like-minded  friends Colebrooke and Halhed,  founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta,in 1784 started a journal called ''Asiatick Researches'' to publish scholarly articles on Indian subjects  to get the attention of European scholars who were not aware of the richness of Indian languages, in particular Sanskrit. 

Jones, a radical political thinker and a friend of American independence, produced a flood of works on India and his prolific works covering a variety of subjects in 13 volumes were published in Europe in 1807. His major works included  translation of the Manu Smriti, of Kalidasa, the Gita Govinda of Jaideva, the Indian Classical Music, Geography, Botany, ancient Indian sciences, etc. He clearly showed the close link between Sanskrit and European languages in several aspects such as syntax, verb patterns  and declensions, well refined advanced grammar, etc and impressed on the European scholars that Sanskrit was a fully developed advanced language rich in literature and various other intellectual works  and had a close affinity with Greek and Latin. 
In the 19th century the concept of Proto Indo European language, simply PIE was introduced suggesting the evolution of various world languages from a distinctive common source.His emphatic argument took the linguistic world by surprise leading to a lot of debates and discussions.A consesus was arrived at only later. Previously it was believed Hebrew was the common source of many world languages. Now at many major European and American universities Sanskrit is being taught and researched by scholars. It was Jones who first laid the foundation of the  study of comparative linguistics and Indo-European studies.

Sir Willium Jones tomb at Kolkata,South Park Street
Through Jones and others' dedicated efforts a Madrasa was founded in 1781 to promote the study of Arabic, Persian and Islamic law in Calcutta. A Hindu College was established in 1791 in  Benaras, Uttar Pradesh to promote the study of ancient Sanskrit texts that could be useful for better administration of the country and preservation of valuable works of  various ancient scholars and  religious practices and places of worship. Both were  the first institutions ever founded by the British scholar on the Indian soil to unearth India's vast treasure trove of knowledge. The British scholars were well supported by Warren Hastings who evinced keen interest in Indology.   

There were other company officials who argued that the British ought to promote Indian rather than Western learning. They felt that institutions should be set up to encourage the study of ancient Indian texts and teach Sanskrit and Persian literature and poetry; officials also thought that Hindus and Muslims ought to be taught what they were already familiar with, and what they valued and treasured and not subjects that were alien to them. These  dedicated British officials, unmindful of criticism, worked with courage of conviction  towards their goal and encouraged both Indians and the British to study Indology. Jones died in Calcutta on 27 April, 1794 at the age of 47 and is buried in South Park Street Cemetery.

Sir William Jones,judge,British East India Co.
In south India people speak what are called Dravidian languages consisting of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. All these languages come under the ''Dravidian group of languages.'' Just like Sanskrit, Tamil, the mother of other south Indian languages, is a classical ancient language, well developed and very rich in literature, poetry and drama. It is also one of the oldest, well refined and developed languages in the world. British scholars like G.U.Pope made valuable contribution and made it familiar among western scholars. So was Constanzo Beschi, an Italian Jesuit priest, Missionary in South India who made immense contribution in Tamil.Tamil is an official language of  Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia

Starting of Indian universities in 1857:  Not withstanding the fact the British were in the middle of the Sepoy Revolt  going on in Meerut, Delhi and elsewhere in Northern India, universities were being established in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay to impart English education. Attempts were also made to bring about changes within the system of school education in tune with higher education. The English education system later worked positively and kept the people of non Hindi-Urdu speaking people united.

Gandhiji's aversion to British education in India: Though studied Law in England, Mahatma Gandhi was of the view that colonial education would create a sense of inferiority in the minds of Indians and  destroy the pride in own culture. Instead, we might look upon the western civilization as superior and valuable. There was poison in this education, said Mahatma Gandhi, it was sinful, it enslaved Indians, it cast an evil spell on them and they would be Charmed by the West.It does not mean Gandhiji despised higher education of western countries and he simply pointed out the perils in such foreign education and it is our responsibility to grasp only the good and discard the bad.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

'Black Hole' incident (1756), Calcutta and eye witness John Holwell

 Since the Mogul empire became weak, the Nawobs and Provincial Governors became independent and took certain political decisions on their own. Toward the end of 17th century, the British and the French commercial enterprises competed against each other for a space in Bengal. To make their mercantile operations  more effective and safer, the British in the1690s had already built a port, trading post and later Ft.William. At this point of time,  the relationship between the British and the Nawob  - Siraj-ud daulah was not good as the British failed to pay taxes and, a few years later, also started fortification work  at Ft. Williams without prior  permission from the Nawab.  Nawob Siraj was young in his twenties and took the reigns from his grandfather in the capital of Murshidabad in 1756.

Site of Black Hole(1756), KolkataAlamy

Infuriated Nawab's orders to the British to stop the fortification work fell on deaf ears. The British didn't care a fig. Now, offended, 
Siraj-ud-Daulla arrived before the gate of Fort William at Calcutta on 16th June,1756 with a formidable force of 30,000 foot soldiers, 20,000 cavalrymen, 400 trained elephants and 80 pieces of cannon to capture it from the English for their failure to pay trade taxes. Governor Roger Drake found it impossible to tackle the onslaught of  the Nawob's forces and, on June 19th, escaped to the fort at Fultah to avoid capture under the cover provided by other soldiers, leaving behind women and children and a garrison  of 170 soldiers headed by non-military official John Holwell The responsibility to save the fort from the marauding  forces of Nawob fell on John Zephaniah Holwell, a magistrate and Member of the Council, with a few other Englishmen left in the fort. On 20th June, only 14 men were left to serve the guns as 25 English soldiers were killed and 70 wounded. They fought tooth and nail till evening. The main gate, having been opened by a Dutchman, the Nawob's forces entered and several British soldiers lost their life in the fierce fighting and at last  Holwell surrendered to the invading army. That night an unexpected horrible thing  had occurred that was blown out of proportion and made to look like a legend in history showing the Nawob in poor light making the British war heroes.

 Above image: Nawob Siraj-ud-daulah and Z.Z.Holwell,Black hole incident (1756), Calcutta.......

According to the  survivor  John Zephaniah Holwell, Siraj-ud-Daulla put 146 English prisoners in a  small military prison -  a lock-up (a sort of dungeon measuring 15 feet by 18 feet) in the fort meant for minor offenders. The room being not good  enough for 143 people and with no ventilation, following morning, 123 of the prisoners had died. This incident was recalled by the survivor and tagged Indians as a base, cowardly, and despotic people. Holwell, however, pointed out suffocation is one reason and the other reason was prisoners, who had been inside the dungeon, were short of breath bordering on heavy panting and in the me-lee to get fresh air from the only small window available, prisoners panicked and initially resorted to violence,then fighting and ultimately killing - Darwin's theory of natural selection came into play: survival of the fittest, so to speak. It is now almost universally conceded that Holwell greatly embellished his story. Indian scholars have shown the Nawob had no hand in this affair, and that the number of incarcerated prisoners was no higher than 69.  Professor Brijen Gupta mentioned  in the 1950s, the total of prisoners shut in the black hole was probably sixty-four, of whom twenty-one came out alive. He also showed evidence that Siraj-ud-daula did not order the prisoners to be shut in the black hole and knew nothing about it until afterwards.

Black hole (1756),Calcutta,people fighting to stay alive.

 John Zephaniah Holwell was born in Dublin on17 September 1711, the son of Zephaniah Holwell (d. 1729), a timber merchant. In 1732 Holwell became a surgeon's mate on board an India-bound ship for Calcutta  and later he settled there in1736. Subsequently  he went back to England  and in 1751 he returned to India now as a "covenanted civilian".

Coming back to the black hole tragedy. having survived the night in the "Black Hole," Holwell was taken as a  prisoner along with three others to Murshidabad. He was in a  bad state of health and covered with boils. Holwell was eventually released on July 17, 1756, at the interference of the Begum of Bengal, who, it is said, recognized his services to ailing Indians. Holwell, then returned to England  in February 1757; the voyage took five months, during which time he wrote an account of the events in the "Black Hole". Holwell's narrative 'his experience as a night of horrors' and other subsequent publications by famous people on Black Hole inspired the patriotic zeal of  several generations of Britons and at the same time  they accentuated their rage at Indian perfidy.

He returned to Calcutta in 1759 and was appointed Governor in 1760. However, his disagreement  with the Board of Directors in  September of the same year made him to  resign the covetous post.  He died on  5 November 1798 and, as for his personal life, he  was twice married and was survived by two daughters.

John Zephaniah Holwell
The original inscription gave only a few names that Holwell could remember, and  he gave some of them inaccurately. The present  more accurate lists are due to a careful examination of contemporary records, lists, and registers, which was conducted by Lord Curzon, in co-operation with Mr. S. C. Hill. The inscription is as follows:
'This monument was erected by Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General of India,
In the year 1902,
Upon the site and in reproduction of the design
Of the original monument'.

'To the memory of the 123 persons
Who perished in the Black Hole prison
Of Old Fort William
On the night of the 20th of June, 1756.
The former memorial was raised by
Their surviving fellow-sufferer
J. Z. Holwell, Governor of Fort William,
On the spot where the bodies of the dead
Had been thrown into the ditch of the raveling.
It was removed in 1821.'

Black Hole memorial St. John's Church, 

As per Treaty of Alinagar in 1757  between leaders from Britain and India, the finally Indians agreed to pay compensation for attacks on British citizens. Surprisingly there was no mention  of the Black Hole incident of Calcutta. Wily British never talked about payment of  huge  tax arrears due from EIC to the Nawob.

The list of casualty legally declared was based on solitary evidence given by Holwell. The list of 123 dead  British officer in a small  prison cell that could accommodate only 50 to 60 people at a time  was a cock and bull story promoted by Holwell and his buddies backed by the biased British  media to gain political millage out of this unfortunate incident and to win the sympathy and support of the British public in favor of company's confrontation against the Nawob. This way they could show the Nawob in poor light and portray him as the real villain or culprit whose motive was to kill the British mercilessly. Siraj-ud daulah was not  a cruel man and this act was committed  most probably out of negligence

Old Fort William in Bengal - By Charles Robert Wilson
John Zephaniah Holwell (1711-1798) and the Black Hole of Calcutta - By H. P. Bayo.