ROLE OF A SIKH MAHANT DURING THE REVOLT OF 1857 IN AGRA . (CAPITAL OF THE NORTH-WESTERN PROVINCES)
ANIL JESSOP CHAUHAN
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Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
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ANIL JESSOP CHAUHAN
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The revolt of 1857 was a bolt out of the blue for the British, who may not have
ever dreamt of a rebellion, on such a magnitude; and it goes without saying, that without the aid and support of loyal Indians1, the British had almost lost Agra, the erstwhile capital of the North-Western Provinces. A pertinent question that has baffled the minds of Historians is in regard to the attitude of the Sikhs towards the rebellion and the rebels. It is observed that, the Sikhs, adopted an attitude of neutrality against the rebels, and at some places were colluding partners of the British, 2 playing a vital role in suppressing the rebellion, and sometimes their actions aroused indignation among the victims3, though there were notable exceptions also.4 Various theories have been attributed, either to condemn or defend the action of the Sikh Community during the revolt. One theory about the weak and vacillating attitude of the Sikhs is that the Anglo-Sikh Wars had left them leaderless, hence they could not effectively participate in the revolt,5 but this argument cannot be accepted in its entirety, because there were notable exceptions, when the Sikhs did take an active part.6 Another theory put forward is that the Sikhs nursed a grudge against the purabia soldiers and held them responsible for the annexation of the Punjab, and were naturally looked down upon, due to ‘their betrayal and other overt and covert acts’ which bred ‘a natural hatred’ against them among the Sikhs.7 Kavi Khazan Singh in his work Jangnama-i-Dilli, written in 1858, mentions that the Sikh participation against the purabia soldiers was in reaction to the latter’s claim that they had vanquished the Sikhs in 1845-46, and again in 1848-49.8 But this argument cannot be accepted on the ground that the revolt in 1857 was against a common enemy, a foreigner. Why it did not transpire to them, that in the eventuality of the defeat of the British, both would have lost their bondage? Perhaps, the fear of the resuscitation of the Mughal Empire must have played its part in the logical conclusion, that the community was safe from trepidations under the British, than it would be under the Mughals9. William Darlymple has argued that the Sikhs had proved to be keen recruits “for although they had themselves fought
two major wars with the British.....any dislike which they may have felt for the British was outweighed by their long hatred of the Mughals who had martyred two of their greatest gurus....(besides) there was also the lure of the celebrated wealth of Delhi.”10 Be that as it may, the present paper attempts to look upon the activities of a Sikh religious head (Mahant), Mauj Prakash, who helped the British in Agra, not only during the revolt, but whose rendezvous with the British started, as early as 1841. This paper is based upon a copy of the petition, which he forwarded to the Governor-General-in-Council, seeking compensation for the services rendered by him, at the time of the revolt of 1857, as well as, the correspondence conducted by the Government of the North-Western Provinces, with various departments. These records are available with the Regional Archives Office, Agra
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
If possible anyone have shijra family tree of Mughal Barlas traib of Attock Pakistan please share with me.