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Maharani_Kishori

Maharani Kishori

Maharani Kishori (Hindi: महारानी किशोरी) was the wife of Jat Maharaja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, India. She belonged to place called Hodal, a town situated in Faridabad district of Haryana on National Highway No.2, near Mathura and Bharatpur.

Marriage with Maharaja Suraj Mal

Kishori Devi was the daughter of one Chaudhary Kashi Ram Sorot. Legend has is that one day Maharaja Suraj Mal was passing Hodal on his stately elephant when he noticed an unusual incident. An agitated bull was frightening everyone and roaming angrily when Kishori Devi, along with her friends, was returning from a well with a pitcher on her head. She put her toe on the loose bridle and restrained the bull. Kishori was a brave, stout and beautiful young maiden. Suraj Mal was greatly impressed and, after some time, sent his purohit with the marriage proposal. Her father is said to have agreed to the relationship but wished that his status was at par with that of the reputed Raja. Upon hearing this, Maharaja Suraj Mal granted him the title of Chaudhary with the authority to collect revenue from the parganah of Hodal. The marriage was solemnised sometime around 1730.

According to the poet Sudan, Maharaja Suraj Mal married Maharani Kishori on 21 March 1750 (falgun sudi pandrah). Chaudhary Kashi Ram Sorot had two more sons in addition to Kishori who were Buj Lal and Guman Singh. Maharaja Suraj Mal appointed Kashi Ram as manager of village Tawdu (Parganah Nooh) and this way through the marriage with Maharani Kishori he strengthened his position in Mewat.

Some historians, like KR Qanungo, Yadunath Sarkar, Dr Ranjit Singh, and Upendranath Sharma mention that Maharani Kishori and Hansia were not different. Hansia was the name Maharani Kishori herself. The poetry of the poet Sudan also says so. But Thakur Ganga Singh and Kunwar Natwar Singh treat Kishori and Hansia as separate queens of Maharaja Suraj Mal. Maharaja Suraj Mal liked Maharani Kishori the most. He constructed Maharani Kishori Mahal within the Lohagarh Fort. He also constructed Maharani Kishori temple at Brindavan and Maharani Kishori Khas Mahal at Goverdhan.

A patron to the Bharatpur state

Maharani Kishori had played an important role in running the administration of Bharatpur state. Maharaja Suraj Mal always consulted her on the important matters of the state. She played the role of patron to the Bharatpur state for three generations even after death of Maharaja Suraj Mal.

Diplomatic efforts of Maharani Kishori

The Marathas had attacked Kumher Fort on 20 January 1754, besieging it until 18 May. The war continued for about four months.

Khande Rao Holkar, son of Malhar Rao, was one day inspecting his army in an open palanquin, when he was fired on from inside the fort. Hit by a cannonball, he died on 17 March. Malhar Rao vowed that he would cut off the head of Maharaja Suraj Mal and throw the fort into the Yamuna.

The Marathas increased the pressure and Suraj Mal defended, though no other ruler was ready to help him. He took advice from Maharani Kishori, who started diplomatic efforts by contacting Diwan Roop Ram Katara. She knew of the enmity between Malhar Rao Holkar and Jayappa Sindhia. She advised Maharaja Suraj Mal to take advantage of differences within the Marathas. Diwan Roop Ram Katara was a friend of Jayappa Sindhia. She asked Diwan Roop Ram Katara to take him a letter from Maharaja Suraj Mal with a proposal of a treaty. Jayappa Sindhia contacted Raghunath Rao, who in turn advised Holkar to make a treaty with Suraj Mal.

Malhar Rao Holkar assessed the situation and consented, fearing isolation. This led to a treaty on 18 May 1754. It proved very beneficial for Maharaja Suraj Mal.

The Pushkar bath by Maharani Kishori

Maharani Kishori, wife of Maharaja Suraj Mal, who had adopted Jawahar Singh, was adept at political intrigues. She was pained to see that Jawahar Singh was not adopting a favourable policy towards the members of the family and the nobles. She knew that only keeping him engaged in warfare could control him. She also knew that the Rajputs could never tolerate this abrupt rise of Jat rule and would always resist the latter's efforts to gain power. The solution for both the problems lay in war.

Maharani Kishori expressed her desire to her proud son that she wanted to go for a sacred bath at Pushkar. Jawahar Singh pointed out that Pushkar was situated in the territory of his eternal and deadly foe, Raja Madho Singh, who would not tolerate her arrival at Pushkar with a large retinue, and advised her that if at all she were keen to go for Pushkar bath, she would go with only a few followers and Rupa Ram the Purohit.

The Rani retorted by saying that she was the mother of Jawahar Singh, and the Rani of Maharaja Suraj Mal and taking a bath like Marwari women would hurt her pride, and that she would like to take her bath along with the Rajput Ranis there.

She would also like to give away alms surpassing the Rajput Ranis. She said, she did not understand why the Jats should be afraid of the Rajputs any longer. Jawahar Singh knew well that this would lead to warfare and bloodshed.

Jawahar Singh marched to Pushkar with 60,000 Cavalry, 1 lakh Infantry and 200 guns. With fluttering banners and beating drums, they entered Jaipur territory and set up an impressive camp in the Sandy plains of Pushkar.

Maharani Kishori was weighed in gold, which was given in charity. The other Ranis who had come on this occasion felt humiliated because they were not in a position to match the charity of Maharani Kishori. The Rajput vanity was hurt.

Her love for people

When Marathas were defeated in the Third Battle of Panipat and a total of hundred thousand Maratha survivors while returning to south reached Suraj Mal’s territory lacking sufficient arms, clothes and food, Maharani Kishori along with Maharaja Suraj Mal received them with tender warmth and hospitality, giving free rations to every Maratha solder or camp follower. The wounded were taken care of until they were fit to travel. This is an example of her strong nationality and love for people.

Saves the house of Bharatpur from extinction

In July 1778, Mirza Najaf Khan was constrained to make peace with the Rao Raja, recognising his title to Alwar and other territories conquered from the Jats. He sent back Hamdani against Ranjit Singh and himself started to Agra. In September 1778, he appeared before Kumher with whole army to finish the affairs of Jats.

The siege of Kumher was prosecuted with great vigour, but the garrison in hope of the arrival of the Emperor put up a stiff resistance. Mirza Najaf Khan grew impatient as the siege seemed to be dragging on to an interminable length. The Amir-ul-umra out of the consideration of policy and general good sent a letter full of admonitions... reminding Ranjit Singh that there was yet time to secure pardon through submission and to atone for his past error by loyal service, without dragging several thousand men into destruction. This Advice failed to find any place in Ranjit Singh's heart - he remained as haughty and obstinate as before. The besieging army redoubled their efforts and soon rendered the fort untenable. In their hour of supreme peril, they remembered the old Maharani Kishori, who had outlived the glory of house of Bharatpur, and been pining in neglect and retirement after the death of Maharaja Jawahar Singh. The well-wishers of Maharaja Ranjit Singh advised him to send the old Rani Kishori to the Mughal camp, because she enjoyed the respect and good-will of the high officers of Amir-ul-umra, and might possibly by her intercession procure pardon for his past offices. But Ranjit Singh hesitated to act upon their advice lest the Mirza should compel him to surrender unconditionally by detaining her in Mughal camp. One night he escaped with a few friends, leaving Kumher to its fate. Next morning the Muslim troops scaled the walls of the fort and overpowered the defenders. Rani Kishori fell a prisoner into their hands and was taken with all honour to the camp of Nawab. In obedience to his order, the officers of his govt erected lofty and secluded tents for her residence and expert servants were appointed to wait upon her, so that after a few days her grief might subdue.

It was not with the suspicious and timid steps of a prisoner that she went to meet the conqueror when summoned by him, but rather in the hope and confidence of a mother in distress who goes to see her foster child. On reaching the presence of Nawab, she like an affectionate nurse, walked round the person of Amir-ul-umra, and with sincere heart took away[on her own shoulders] all his evils. With tearful eyes, she narrated the pitiful tale of her misery. When Nawab Amir-ul-umra learnt the distress of her heart overflowed with kindness and very graciously set her up as his own mother. He gave her the fort of Kumher for her residence and the mahals around it for her support. To please her, he forgave the guilt of Ranjit Singh and left him the fort of Bharatpur with territories worth seven lakhs of Rupees as jagir. His magnanimity succeeded where the barbarous ferocity of the Abdali had failed.

See also

References

Sources

  • Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934, 2nd edition 1992.
  • Dr Natthan Singh: Jat - Itihas (Hindi), Jat Samaj Kalyan Parishad Gwalior, 2004
  • Chaudhari Udayvir Singh: Jat Bandhu, Agra, 25 April 2001
  • Kalika Ranjan Qanungo: History of the Jats : Contribution to the History of Northern India (Up to the Death of Mirza Najaf Khan, 1782). Edited and annotated by Vir Singh. Delhi, Originals, 2003, ISBN 81-7536-299-5
  • Dr. Prakash Chandra Chandawat: Maharaja Suraj Mal aur unka yug, Jaypal Agencies Agra, 1982
  • Kunwar Natwar Singh: Maharaja Suraj Mal

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