|Birth:||November 3, 1688|
|Place of birth:||Amber, India|
|Death:||September 21, 1743|
|Preceded by:||Bishan Singh|
Kunwar Shiv Singh (d. 1724)|
Kunwar Ishwari Singh (became Maharaja in 1743)
Kunwar Madho Singh (became Maharaja in 1750)
Six months after his accession, Jai Singh was ordered by Aurangzeb to serve in his ruinous Deccan Wars. But there was a delay of about one year in his responding to the call. One of the reason for this was that he was ordered to recruit a large force, in excess of the contingent required by his mansab. He also had to conclude his marriage with the daughter of Udit Singh, the nephew of Raja Uttam Ram Gaur of Sheopur in March, 1701. Jai Singh reached Burhanpur on August 3, 1701 but he could not proceed further due to heavy rains. On September 13, 1701 an additional cut in his rank (by 500) and pay was made. His feat of arms at the siege of Khelna (1702) was rewarded by the mere restoration of his earlier rank and the title of Sawai (Sawai-meaning one and a quarter, i.e. more capable than one man). When Aurangzeb’s grandson Bidar Bakht deputed Sawai Jai Singh to govern the province of Malwa (1704), Aurangzeb angrily revoked this appointment as jaiz nist (invalid or opposed to Islam).
Upon Sawai Jai Singh’s second appointment to Malwa (1729-1730), as a far-sighted statesmen, Jai Singh was able to perceive a complete change in the political situation, during the twelve years which had passed since his first viceroyalty there. Imperial power had by then been crippled by the rebellion of the Nizam of Hyderabad as well as the ability of Peshwa Baji Rao to stabilize the internal situation of the Marathas, which resulted in their occupation of Gujarat and an immense increase of their forces. Nonetheless, in the name of the friendship between their royal ancestors, Sawai Jai Singh II, was able to appeal to Shahu to restore to the imperialist, the great fortress of Mandu which the Marathas had occupied a few weeks earlier (order date 19th March 1730). By May, Jai Singh was recalled back to Rajputana to attend more pressing matters, which thus resulted in his two years disassociation from Malwa.
In 1732, Jai Singh was for the last time, appointed Subahdar of Malwa (1732-1737), during which time he advocated Muhammad Shah, to compromise with the Marathas under Shahu, whom greatly remembered the kindness and relationship between the late Mirza Raja (Jai Singh I) and his own grandfather, Shivaji. For this sensible advice, coupled with anti-Jai Singh rhetoric at the Mughal court at Delhi, as well as Muhammad Shah’s inability to assert his own will, Jai Singh was removed from his post while the Mughals decided on war. In this regard, Sawai Jai Singh II was practically the last subahdar of Malwa, as Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah, who replaced him in 1737, met with most discomfiting failure at the hands of the Peshwa, resulting with the ceding of the whole of Malwa to the Marathas (Treaty of Duraha, Saturday 7th January 1738).
Exploiting the decadence of the Delhi government, the Persian raider Nadir Shah defeated the Mughals at Karnal (13th February, 1739) and finally sacked Delhi (11th March, same year). Through this period of turmoil Jai Singh remained in his own state——but he was not idle. Foreseeing the troubled time ahead, Sawai Jai Singh II, initiated a program of extensive fortification within the thikanas under Jaipur, to this date, most of the later fortifications abound the former Jaipur state, are attributed to the reign of Sawai Jai Singh II.
According to an estimate by Jadunath Sarkar; Jai Singh's regular army did not exceed 40,000 men, which would have cost about 60 lakhs a year, but his strength lay in the large number of artillery and copious supply of munitions which he was careful to maintain and his rule of arming his foot with matchlocks instead of the traditional Rajput sword and shield - He had the wisdom to recognize early the change which firearms had introduced in Indian warfare and to prepare for himself for the new war by raising the fire-power of his army to the maximum, he thus anticipated the success of later Indian rulers like Mirza Najaf Khan, Mahadji Sindhia and Tipu Sultan. Sawai Jai Singh's experimental weapon, the Jaivana which he created prior to the shift of his capital to Jaipur, remains the largest wheeled cannon in the world. In 1732, Sawai Jai Singh, as governor of Malwa undertook, to maintain 30,000 soldiers, in equal proportions of horsemen and foot-musketeers. These did not include his contingents in the Subahs of Agra and Ajmer and in his own dominions and fort garrisons.
The armed strength of Jai Singh had always made him, the most formidable ruler in Northern India and all the other Rajas looked up to him for protection and the promotion of their interests at the Imperial court.The fast-spreading Maratha dominion and their raids into the north had caused alarm among the Rajput chiefs——Jai Singh called a conference of Rajput rulers at Hurda (1743) to deal with this peril but nothing came of this meeting. In 1736 Peshwa Baji Rao imposed tribute on the Kingdom of Mewar. To thwart further Maratha domination Sawai Jai Singh planned a local hegemony, to form under the leadership of Jaipur, a political union in Rajputana. He first annexed Bundi and Rampura in the Malwa plateau, made a matrimonial alliance with Mewar, and intervened in the affairs of the Rathors of Bikaner and Jodhpur. These half-successful attempts only stiffened the backs of the other Rajput clans who turned to the very same Marathas for aid, and consequently hastened their domination over Rajasthan! After Sawai Jai Singh’s death in 1743 (he was cremated at the Royal Crematorium at Gaitore in the north of Jaipur), these troubles were inherited by his less capable son Ishwari Singh.
In 1719, he was witness to a noisy discussion in the court of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah Rangeela. The heated debate regarded how to make astronomical calculations to determine an auspicious date when the emperor could start a journey. This discussion led Jai Singh to think that the nation needed to be educated on the subject of astronomy. It is surprising that in the midst of local wars, foreign invasions, and consequent turmoil, Sawai Jai Singh found time and energy to build astronomical observatories.
No less than five massive structures were built at Delhi, Mathura (in his Agra province), Benares, Ujjain (capital of his Malwa province), and his own capital of Jaipur. In all of these only the one at Jaipur is working. Relying primarily on Hindu astronomy as well as Islamic astronomy, these buildings were used to accurately predict eclipses and other astronomical events. The observational techniques and instruments used in his observatories were also superior to those used by the European Jesuit astronomers he invited to his observatories. Termed as the Jantar Mantar they consisted of the Ram Yantra (a cylindrical building with an open top and a pillar in its center), the Jai Prakash (a concave hemisphere), the Samrat Yantra (a huge equinoctial dial), the Digamsha Yantra (a pillar surrounded by two circular walls), and the Narivalaya Yantra (a cylindrical dial).
Jai Singh’s greatest achievement was the construction of Jaipur city (known as pink city), which later became the capital of the modern Indian state of Rajasthan. Construction of the new capital began as early as 1725 although it was in 1727 that the foundation stone was ceremonially laid, and by 1733 Jaipur officially replaced Amber as capital of the Kachawahas. Built on the ancient Hindu grid pattern, found in the archaeological ruins of 3000 BCE, it was designed by the Brahmin Vidyadhar who was educated in the ancient Sanskrit manuals (silpa-sutras) on city-planning and architecture. Merchants from all over India settled down in the relative safety of this rich city, protected by thick walls, and a garrison of 17,000 supported by adequate artillery.
The rajah also translated works by people like John Napier.
For these multiple achievements Sawai Jai Singh II is remembered even to this date, as the most enlightened king of 18th Century India.
These days Jai Singh's observatories at Jaipur, Varanasi, and Ujjain are functional. Only the one at Delhi is not functional and that at Mathura disappeared long time ago.