After the untimely death of Raja Ram in the war of Bijal between Shekhawats and Chauhans on 4 July 1688, old father of Raja Ram, Bhajja Singh became the leader of Jats. Aurangzeb played a trick. He appointed Raja Bishan Singh of Amber as Faujdar of Mathura. Kachwahas were bent upon to subjugate the Jats, who were fighting for freedom from Mughal rule. Bishan Singh gave a written promise to destroy the fort of Sinsini. Mughal and Rajput armies jointly attacked Sinsini and captured it after a struggle of five months, in the month of January 1690. In this war 200 Mughals and 700 Rajputs were killed against 1500 Jats.
Such a big army needed a lot of money. Churaman decided to gather booty from rich states of Kota and Bundi. He acquired Sinsini from the MughalRajput combine in 1704 after having surrounded the fort whereupon seeing his fate sealed , the Durgpal accepted a small amount and vacated the fort hastily .This shows the calculating brains of Churaman where he managed to make the enemy flee without having to go in for any bloodshed. In 1705 there was a war with Mughal subadar Mukhtar khan of Agra and with Rajabahadur in 1707 at Sinsini. In the second war at Sinsini 1000 Jats were lost but they got the victory.
In keeping with his new policy, Churaman apparently chose to be passive on the Sinsini affair. Similarly in the next few years, he applied a restraint on his predatory habits, though local malefactors sometimes indulged in plundering on the roads. Mirza Muhammad emphatically adds that henceforward till the defeat of Jahandar Shah (i.e. from September, 1707 to January 1713) he devoted himself to the imperial service and did not permit any obstructions on the road. Early in 1708, he helped the local naib faujdar, Rahim-ul-la Khan , in suppressing the local Afghan rebels. Having attacked the village of Thiravali (5 miles to the east of OL) he accompanied the Khan in an expedition against the Baloch rebels of Shergarh (20 miles to the north of Mathura). They resisted the invaders for three days but ultimately turned their backs, promising to make over a property worth two thousands to the Jat. This further enhanced his image as a powerful chief. Little wonder, therefore, that greater recognition awaited Churaman.
In this context Hussain Khan sought the help of the redoubtable Churaman. The Khan sent him money to recruit troops for the purpose. The Jat leader responded and collecting a big force, moved to Narnaul where Hussain Khan had been living ever since his expulsion. About the same time (i.e. the end of September) Jai Singh appealed to Churaman to detach himself form the Sayyid and thereby co-operate with him (the Raja) against the Mughals, who were out to destroy the Hindus. In return, the Raja assured him to expel his opponent, Jaitra Singh , from the paragana of Kaithwada. Churaman, There after deserted the Sayyid. It is also to be borne in mind that he had already recruited a big force of his own out of the Mughal resource. Besides, he had got Jai Singh’s assurance about Kaithwara and taking advantage of it he eventually (In November 1708) wrested that place form Jaitra Singh. Thus what he precisely did was that on some pretext he withdrew leaving Hussian Khan to his own fate. Later he sent a very humble massage to Jai Singh calling himself the Raja’s “own servant”, he intimated that he wished to see him (Jai Singh) personally and that he never desired to oppose him. Further he assured Jai Singh of his ‘ services’ to do the needful in the Mathura region. , This episode incidentally, depicts Churaman at his real self. .This was definitely a ploy on his part to buy time while he consolidated himself in the face of the Mughal-Rajput combine.
From Sayyid Hussain Khan’s camp Churaman proceeded to Kama, where Raza Bahadur, the local faujdar was preparing to fight the local Rajput zamindar, Ajit Singh. The latter withholding the payment of revenue had expelled the local officers and openly challenged the Mughal authority in that area. His turbulent ways caused worry to both the local faujdar as well as to the ambitious Churaman, whose chief stronghold , Thun, lay so close to Kama. Hence both these united and with a big force (about 18,000) attacked Aiit Singh who confronted the enemy with about 10,000 horses and gunners. A bitter fight ensued near Kama in which the Rajput artillery played a major role in repulsing the Jats and the Mughals. The jubilant rebels pursued their enemies up to Khoh (about 8 miles to the south). After three days (i.e.7th October, 1708) they rallied again and then charged the Rajputs. The Mugla-Jat combine appeared to gain advantage. But the Rajputs, fighting gallantly re-emerged victorious in the end. Many on both sides were killed and wounded. Raza Bahadur was also killed. Churaman and his men, who had been surrounded by the Rajputs towards the end, sallied out against the besiegers. He however received wounds from a sword cut delivered by a Rajput soldier, while he was on his way to Thun , ,
About two months later, (December 1708) Churaman with 6,000 horses joined Mir Khan, the faujdar of Narnaul and passing through Sonkh-Sonkhari, attacked the rebel Rajputs. Jai Singh Naruka of Jawali, offered them a stiff resistance but had to retreat and take cover in flight.
It is said that Churaman’s brother Ati Ram, who was a friend of the Naruka, mediated a settlement between Churaman and the Naruka and hence, further operations were given up.
Hereafter, there is a gap of about twenty one months (January 1709 - October 1710) in our information of Churaman’s movements. Perhaps these days he was silently busy in expanding and consolidating his hold. Sometime in October 1710 possibly on being summoned he presented himself to Bahadur Shah (ca. October 1710) somewhere near Delhi, when the Emperor was on his march against Banda. He was placed under Muhammad Amin Khan, who had been ordered to capture Sarhind. Subsequently, serving the Wazir faithfully, he took part in the campaigns at Sandhaura and Lohagarh. , The Wazir, who had shown his favours, died in February 1711; and this exposed him to the pressures of the Court. We learn form the Akhabarat that the fortress at Halena being built by his brother, Ati Ram, would be demolished It is not clear whether or not this was carried out , Churaman, however, moved on with the Emperor to Lahore.
In the battle of Lahore (March 1712) consequent upon the death of Bahadur Shah, the Jat leader sided with Azim-ush-Shah. Therein he looked after the supplies to the Princes camp. Churaman and the banjaras had promised to maintain regular supplies. He carried out his pledge faithfully and the Prince looked satisfied. However largely due to his conceit and evasive tactics Azim-ush-shah was defeated and killed. Thereafter, plundering the Camp, Churaman, apparently made his way home. Providences smiled over him again. Though the contestant whom he had joined, lost the race for the Crown, he was pardoned by the victor, Jahandar Shah. Probably through the intercession of the new Wazir, Zulifqar Khan, whose pro-Hindu leanings were evident, he was presented a khilat and re-instated in his mansab. This leniency reflected the general policy of Jahandar Shah’s government.
Hence, compulsion and policy induced the government to be considerate towards the redoubted Churaman who had grown into “ the de facto ruler” of the entire region stretching form Delhi to the Chambal. , , ,
The Emperor sent order to Churaman and several Rajput Rajas to join prince Azu-ud-Din, who had been deputed to Agra to watch the movements of Farrukh Siyar. But all of them procrastinated. Azi-ud-Din was subsequently defeated at Khajuha (November 1712). This alarmed Jahandar Shah. Early in December, making fulsome promises he sent a farman to Chruaman to reach Agra with his men against Farrukah Siyar. Churaman came with a big force and fought on the side of the Emperor at the battle of Agra (January 1713) But once his cause appeared to have been lost, the audacious Jat felt no qualms of conscience in plundering the rear of his professed master.This can easily be explained on account of the fact that had Churaman not taken it, the victors wd definitely have laid their hands on it. He did not spare the camp of the victor either.He went back to Thun carrying treasures, many elephants and camels together with their baggage. The Jats so thoroughly looted it that Farrukh Siyar could not find anything better than a filthy screen and a small wooden platform to sit on, while receiving the homage of his officials. , , , , ,
In January 1709 Churaman entered into an agreement with Jai Singh II, looking to the possibilities of victory of Rajputs in wars of Sambhar and Kaman and Bahadurshah’s intention to compromise with them. Under the garb of agreement Churaman intensified his campaign to abolish Rajput Zamindars and capturing back the Jat areas occupied by Kachwahas. He succeeded in getting back Sogar, Bhusawar, Kaman, Khohari, Kot, Khunthare, Ithera, Jadila and Chaugdara.
In 1710 Churaman Joined Bahdurshah in his Sikh campaign. He took part in Sadhaura and Lohagarh wars and went up to Lahore with Bahadurshah. Churaman was excused unconditionally and returned his old Mansab.
After the death of Bahadurshah his son Jahandarshah became the successor. In 1713 when there was a war between Jahandar and Farrukhsiyar, Churaman looted both after the war. This way he got a lot of wealth in booty. Similarly he captured elephants of the Royal army in Hasanpur war.
In 1715 Farrukhsiyar gave Ikram, Aghapur, Malah, Badhagaon, Bharatpur, and Rupwas parganas in Jagir. Even after this Churaman continued to sack along with Rustam and Khemkaran Sogaria. With such allurement also Farrukhsiyar could not curb the activities of Churaman so he sent Raja Jaisingh of Jaipur for subjugation in 1716. Churaman won the war. Rajput and Mughal armies returned back.
In 1719 when there was a war between Nikosiyar and Shamsherkhan, Churaman helped Shamsherkhan under the leadership of Govind Singh, the son of Nand Ram of Hathras. On 13 November 1720 he looted Abdullakhan and got 20 lakh gold coins in the booty. This way Churaman had become the real ruler from Delhi to Chambal on the land west of Yamuna.
Churaman had organized his state with great labour, tact and struggle. He was not having the formal title of Raja but the real undisputed ruler of area under his occupancy.
Badan Singh, the nephew of Churaman, was always with Churaman in every campaign. Badan Singh wanted the Jagir of Sinsini to support his increasing family. But Mohkam Singh, the ambitious son of Churaman was not in favour of giving the Jagir of Sinsini to Badan Singh. The conflict between the ambitions of Mohkam Singh and Badan Singh became the cause of death of Churaman, who consumed poison and died on 20 September 1721.
Churaman was one of those men of History to whom destiny proved remarkable unsparing and bounteous. Majama-ul-Akhbar though a later work, aptly sums up.”...... his good fortune proved like waters richly fertilizing the field of his successful career in life...” , More due to the combination of fortuitous circumstances than to his won endeavours, he rose from the depths of a despised rebel to the enviable height of a Panchhazari Mansabdar and the uncrowned king of the region between Delhi and the Chambal. Stars smiled upon him right form the dawn of his eventful career. It was his luck as a chief Fateh Singh failed and hence the leadership was devolved on him, though he did not directly descend from the famous Raja Ram. Further, his tenure as the Jat chief coincided with the waning Mughal power. This offered him golden opportunities to fulfill his designs. Besides, it is noteworthy that, although he was not negligent in his turbulent ways, again and again he received royal favours. To Crown all, he was extremely fortunate in gaining the favour of certain influential nobles of the day.
Our authorities speak very little of his character. An inference may, however, be drawn on the basis of his performance. Ambitious, bold and rapacious, Churaman was cunning to an unusual degree. Certain traits of his character suggest that as a person he was complex. His movements after the murder of Husain Ali reflect his coolness and foresight, but the case of his suicide reveals his sense of devotion and gratitude. At the same time his conduct in the wars of succession generally testifies to his being unscrupulous and deceitful. Similarly, while his treatment and imperious disposition, the way he held back in face of extreme provocation from his eldest son, Muhkam Singh, speaks of his occasional resignation and self restraint. Churaman displayed a passionate love for money and plunder throughout his life. Examples of occasional loot were not wanting among the Jats either before or after him. But no other Jat leader of his caliber had ever given himself to plunder to this extent.
So far as Churaman’s loot in course of wars was concerned, it must be remembered that it was in keeping with the general practice of the age. The examples of the Mughals, Marathas as also the Rajputs indulging in it can easily be multiplied. ,
Churaman was a good soldier, a fine tactician and a diplomat of considerable merit. His successful defence of Thun against Raja Jai Singh stands out as his masterpiece. Churaman was a skilful military organiser too. The interest he evinced in training, equipment and expansion developed the Jat army into a reckonable force. He also improved upon the system of Jat defence by building strong mud-forts like Thun well provided with arms and ammunitions. By his skillful handling of his opportunities and resources as well as his high associations, Churaman grew extremely strong. He became the “de facto ruler and law giver “ of the entire population under his sphere of influence.
The Jat power made rapid progress during his leadership. Essentially Machiavellian in approach, he could change postures to serve his end. An implacable rebel till the end of Aurangzeb’s reign, he later found it convenient to profess loyalty to the Mughal throne. In turn he, for the first time, gained the royal favours. But he reverted to his old ways and tried to fish in troubled waters during the reign of Farrukh Siyar. Efforts at his suppression were tried but failed and in the end Churaman received additional concessions. However, the concessions offered from a position of apparent helplessness defeated their very objective. Instead of making Churaman sincerely loyal, they made him conscious of his mischief potential and thus eventually whetted his contumacious designs. Side by side the dictates of self interest drew him closer to the mighty Sayyids and the latter themselves, for reasons already explained extended their support to churaman to the point of infuriating Farrukh Siya. With the Emperor demanding his annihilation and the Wazir and the Mir Bakhshi offering him full protection, the Jat problem in general and Churaman’s case in particulars assumed interesting dimension.
The role of Sayyids in the ascendancy of Churaman has not been properly brought out. Besides what we have described at the relevant places, it is to be noted that for the first time in the history of Jats, a chief could attain such heights as to become an ally and close confidant of an imperial Wajir and a Mir Bakhshi. To their patronage, more than to any other single factor, Churamn owed his spectacular rise-a-debt which he openly acknowledges. He received all that he could perhaps aspire for except the title of Raja, which though promised , could not be conferred upon him due to the murder of Husain Ali. In return, the grateful Jat served them with devotion till their end. This was a pleasant exception in a career otherwise marred by unrivalled cunning and deceit. However, his association with the Sayyids was not an unmixed blessing. It gave an added provocation to their opponents as already mentioned. ,
Undeniable Churaman did not prove himself to be a farsighted statesman. He lacked that vision prudence and spirit of accommodation, which were necessary in a successful leader of a tribal and democratic people like the Jats. Though born and brought up among them, he failed to appreciate their susceptibilities. As a result, despite his resources and status he could not weld them into a compact and homogeneous unit or state. On the contrary, unrest and rift came to the forefront even during his lifetime. In the circumstance Badan Singh had to considerably overhaul his system and devise sagacious policies for the creation of the Jat State. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to deny Churaman his due recognition. By leaving an armed force, numbering 14,000 quite a few strong mud forts, considerable wealth and people conscious of their potentiality, he contributed a good deal towards the emergence of the Jat state. ALi his shortcoming admitted, the general condition of the Jats at the time of his death was better than it was at his assumption of their leadership. Except depletion in his rank and followers, the rest of his long life’s work was intact, when his son, Muhkam Singh stepped into to fill up his place. As we shall see, Jai Singh’s victory over the latter, no doubt , inflicted a blow to the rising Jat power. But Churaman cannot be held solely responsible for whatever happened after his death. In any case churaman’s much talked about treasures escaped Jai Singh, and turned out to be of much use to Badan Singh. ,
The Story of his death of Churaman runs as follows :- “ One of his relation , wealthy man died childless. The brethren sent for Muhkam, the eldest son of Churaman, and made him head of the deceased’s zamindari and gave over to him all his goods. Zul karan, the second son of Churaman said to his brother, “ Give me too a share in those goods and admit me as partner.” A verbal dispute followed and Muhkam made ready to resist by force. Zul Karan determined to have the quarrel out, gathered men together, and attacked his brother. The elders of the place sent word to Churaman spoke to Muhkam. The son replied to his father in abusive language, and showed himself ready to fight his father as well as his brother. Churaman lost his temper, and from chagrin swallowed up a dose of deadly poison which he always carried with him and going to an orchard in that village lay down and gave up the ghost. After a long time had elapsed, men were sent to search for him and they found his dead body “ ,