What sort of garbage is this? This looks more like a floral piece of fiction than an account in a book of history by an erudite scholar. The complete section hinges on only one part – the incompetence of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, which looks completely unfair. The highlighted parts solely assert that part.
Reaching Ujjain with his army at the end of February, Jaswant was quite in the dark about Aurangzib’s intentions and movements. So strictly did that Prince watch the roads and ferries of the Narmada river that no news from the Deccan reached Jaswant. The Rajput general, however, learnt that Murad was coming from Guzerat. So, he issued from Ujjain, took post near Kachraud to bar the enemy’s path, and sent his spies towards Murad’s camp for further news. Murad was then 36 miles away, but on finding Jaswant’s force greatly superior to his own, he prudently avoided a battle and making a wide detour round Kachraud arrived south of it, in order to be near the Narmada and Aurangzib’s line of advance.
Jaswant heard of this movement, and in his present state of ignorance could not account for it. Just then he got a letter from Mandu Fort telling him that Aurangzib had crossed the Narmada. A party of Dara’s troops, who had fled from the fort of Dhar at the approach of Aurangzib, now joined Jaswant and confirmed the news. The Maharajah was at his wits’ end; so well had Aurangzib’s movements been kept secret that Jaswant had not heard of his march from Burhanpur, begun as early as 20th March, nor of his having crossed the Narmada. The first news that he got of Aurangzib was that the Prince was already in Malwa and rapidly marching on Ujjain. At the same time, from Murad’s present position, a junction between the two brothers was most likely.
In utter perplexity Jaswant returned to Ujjain. Here a Brahman envoy, surnamed Kavi Rai, delivered to him Aurangzib’s message advising him to give up his opposition and return peacefully to Jodhpur as the Prince was only going to Agra to visit his father without any thought of waging war. Jaswant declined, saying, “I must carry out the Emperor’s orders. I cannot retrace my steps without disgrace.”
He then advanced 14 miles south-west of Ujjain and encamped opposite Dharmat, to block the path of the enemy coming up from the south. Here another startling news reached him : Murad had joined Aurangzib (14th April) and the two were within a day’s march of him. This was a contingency that Jaswant had not thought of before. His waiting strategy had failed to keep the two princes apart. How was he to meet their united forces now ? He quailed at the prospect. Next morning when Aurangzib’s army had already begun to march to the encounter, Jaswant “in mortal fear” attempted to parley. He sent a messenger to Aurangzib to beg the Prince’s pardon and say, “I do not want to fight, and I have no power to show audacity to your Highness. My wish is to visit and serve you. If you pardon me and give up your project of a tight, I shall go and wait on you.” But Aurangzib knew his own advantage and was not willing to strengthen the enemy by granting him time. His reply was, “As I have already started, delay is out of place now. If you really mean what you say, leave your armv and come alone to Najabat Khan, who will guide you to my son Muhammad Sultan, and that prince will introduce you to me and secure your pardon.”
Such a humiliating submission before striking a blow, the chief of the Rathors could not bring himself to make. He prepared for fight. But a general who shrinks in terror, changes his mind, and attempts to gain time by parleying before a battle, is not likely to win in the clash of arms; he has already lost that confidence which is half the victory. Jaswant had come to Malwa in the hope that the mere prestige of the Imperial standards would send the rebellious princes back to their provinces, and that all that he would have to undertake was a mere demonstration of force. Now, when too late, he realised that his adversaries were in deadly earnest and ready to fight to the bitter end. He marshalled his forces against them, but most reluctantly, as if he were going to commit a high crime ; his spirit quailed before that of Aurangzib. A battle fought between two such generals can have but one issue. Jaswant had been charged by Shah Jahan to send the two rebellious princes back to their own provinces with as little injury to them as possible, and to fight them only as a last resource. At all times, a subject opposing two princes of the blood, a servant fighting for a distant master against two chiefs who acknowledge no higher authority than their own will, is severely handicapped. In Jaswant’s case the natural inferiority of his position was aggravated by the commands he had received from Shah Jahan. While Aurangzib followed his own judgment only, knew his own mind, and, fired by the highest ambition, pursued his object with all his resources and singleness of aim, ready to do and dare his utmost,—Jaswant was hesitating, distracted by the conflict between the instructions from Agra and the exigencies of the actual military situation in Malwa, and entirely dependent for his own line of action on what his opponents would do. A general so situated cannot have the advantage of taking the aggressive and forcing the enemy to abandon his plans ; nor can he pursue his aim with iron will to the bitter end.
His army, too, was an ill-knit group of discordant elements. The various Rajput clans were often divided by hereditary feuds and quarrels about dignity and precedence. Unlike Jai Singh, Jaswant was not the commander to humour and manage them, and make all obey the will of one common head. Then, again, there was the standing aloofness between Hindus and Muhammadans. It had been found next to impossible to brigade these creeds together for a campaign under one general. Hence, in the first siege of Qandahar all the Rajputs of the Mughal Van marched under Rajah Bithaldas and all the Muslims under Bahadur Khan, two co-ordinate authorities subject only to the commander-in-chief. In the Bijapur war also all the Rajputs of the reinforcements sent from Hindustan were led by Chhatra Sal Hada, and all the Muslim troops by Mahabat Khan. It was only a commander standing in a position of unquestioned superiority above the heads of the other generals, that could make the two creeds work in amity. Aurangzib was one such by birth as much as by merit. But Jaswant was a mere mansabdar, only two grades higher than Qasim Khan, and socially equal to him, as both were governors of provinces. There could not, therefore, be unity of command in the Imperial army. Indeed, Qasim Khan’s orders were to cooperate with the Maharajah, and not to act as his subordinate. This division of command accentuated the difference of creeds in the Imperial army and rendered its success difficult. Several of the Muslim officers moreover, were, secretly friendly to Aurangzib or had been corrupted by him. The history of the battle that followed proves this suspicion true : while the Imperialists lost 24 Rajput chiefs in the conflict, only one Muhammadan general was killed on their side. “Qasim Khan and all the Imperial troops who in this battle had not become the target of the arrows of Fate, fled,” as the official history issued by Aurangzib records. This circumstance lends colour to the theory that they had kept themselves out of harm’s way. The day following the battle four Muhammadan officers of the Imperial army came over to Aurangzib and were rewarded by him. Such men could not have fought loyally twenty-four hours earlier.
Finally, Jaswant as a general was no match for Aurangzib, who had “aged in war.” Contemporary historians blame him for his incapacity, inexperience and faulty plans. He chose his ground badly and so cramped his men that the horsemen could not manoeuvre freely nor gather momentum for a charge; he failed to send timely succour to the divisions that needed it most, and, the battle once begun, he lost control over his forces as if he were a mere divisional leader and not the supreme commander of all. Lastly, he made the fatal mistake of despising artillery. It is said that the night before the battle, his chief officer Askaran, surnamed Kirtiwant, had urged him, “The two princes have drawn up their guns in front of us. The brave Rajputs do not love their families or own lives very much, so that when they move to the encounter they will never step back. The artillery of the other side will annihilate them. If you only give the order, I with 4000 of our men shall fall on their artillery at midnight, slay the gunners and capture the guns. Thereafter the enemy will not have strength enough to defeat us in a pitched battle.” But Jaswant replied, “It is inconsistent with manliness and Rajput usage to employ stratagem or make a night-attack. Next morning, with God’s grace, I shall use a plan by which their artillery will lie at its place on one side, and the Rajputs coming upon their troops will gain the victory. Not a man (of us) will be hurt by the guns.”
Evidently Jaswant’s plan was to skirt the enemy’s artillery and come to close quarters with their troops, disregarding the gun-fire during the first few minutes of the wild gallop. But such tactics could have succeeded only if the charge had been made on a wide level plain and also if the opposing artillery had been served by Indians proverbially slow in turning and firing their pieces. But when the battle began, the Rajputs were penned within a narrow space with ditches and entrenchments on their flanks, and subjected to a deadly fire before they could expand their formation for a charge. Secondly, after they had passed by the enemy’s artillery and engaged Aurangzib’s troops, the French and English gunners of the Prince quickly turned their guns sideways and began to mow down the Rajputs in their new position. It was truly a contest between swords and gunpowder, and artillery triumphed over cavalry.
The ground where Jaswant took his stand was narrow and uneven, with ditches and swamps on its flanks. One historian asserts that Jaswant had deliberately poured water on and trodden into mud 200 yards of ground in front of him, evidently to arrest the enemy’s charge. His position was also surrounded by trenches thrown up during the previous day, as the usual precaution against night attacks. In short, the Imperial army seemed to be standing on an island, ready for a siege. No worse disposition can be imagined for a pitched battle to be fought by cavaliers on mettled horses. Of the forces engaged, we know that Aurangzib had 30,000 men with him. To this must be added Murad’s contingent, probably less than 10,000. The Imperial army is variously estimated. Aurangzib puts it at “30,000 horse and many infantry,” Isardas at 50,000 ; Murad goes even further and counts the enemy as 50 or 60 thousand, Aqil Khan estimates it at 30,000. So, we may conclude that the two armies were almost equally matched and numbered over 35,000 men each.
On Aurangzib’s side the divisions were thus formed : The Van, said to have consisted of 8,000 steel-clad veterans, under Prince Muhammad Sultan and Najabat Khan, with Zulfiqar Khan and some guns guarding its front,—the main artillery under Murshid Quli Khan,—the Right Wing under Murad,—the Left Wing under Multafat Khan, with the boy-prince Muhammad Azam as honorary commander,—the Advanced Reserve (iltimsh) under Murtaza Khan with Aurangzib’s own guards,—the Centre under Aurangzib himself, with Shaikh Mir and Saf Shikan Khan guarding his Right and Left sides. Some pieces of artillery were posted with the latter. As usual there was a screen of skirmishers in front, composed of the scouts and the servants of the hunting department.
Jaswant’s Van, 10,000 strong, was formed in two columns, one under Qasim Khan, and the other, composed of several thousand Rajputs, under Mukund Singh Hada and six other Hindu chieftains. On his two wings were Rajah Rai Singh Sisodia and his clansmen (the Right), and Iftikhar Khan with the Muslim troops of the Imperial service (the Left). The Centre he led in person, with 2000 of his devoted clansmen, besides other Rajput and Imperial troops at his back. The Advanced Reserve was also composed of Rajputs, led by a Gaur and a Rathor, while the skirmishers were a party of warriors from Central Asia, expert in the use of the bow. The Camp and baggage, left close to the battlefield, were guarded by Maluji, Parsuji (two Maratha auxiliaries) and Rajah Devi Singh Bundela.
It was a little over two hours from sunrise when the rival hosts sighted each other. The battle began with the usual discharge of artillery, rockets, and muskets at long range. The distance gradually decreased, as Aurangzib’s army advanced slowly, keeping its regular formation. Suddenly the kettledrums struck up, the trumpets pealed forth, and the conflict began at close quarters. The Rajputs densely packed within their narrow position, were severely galled by the barqandazes and archers of the Princes’ army from front and flank, without being able to manoeuvre freely and give an effective reply. Their losses began to mount up every minute. Death has no terror for the Rajput, but then it must be death in conflict. If he is to die, it is better to perish after killing some of the enemy, than to be butchered while standing motionless in a dense column. So thinking, the Rajput leaders of the Van,— Mukund Singh Hada, Ratan Singh Rathor, Dayal Singh Jhala, Arjun Singh Gaur, Sujan Singh Sisodia and others, with their choicest clansmen, galloped forward. Shouting their war-cry of Ram ! Ram ! “they fell on the enemy like tigers, casting away all plan.” The flood of Rajput charge first burst on Aurangzib’s artillery. The guns and muskets fired at point-blank range, wofully thinned their ranks, but so impetuous was their onset that it bore down all opposition. Murshid Quli Khan, the Chief of Artillery, was slain after a heroic resistance and his division was shaken ; but the guns were not damaged. The artillerymen probably fled before the storm, and returned as soon as it passed away. Victorious over the artillery guard, the assailants fell on the front part of Aurangzib’s Vanguard. Here an obstinate hand-to-hand combat raged for some time. The Rajputs at first outnumbered their opponents. Zulfiqar Khan, the commander of the front division of the Van, when pressed hard by the enemy, followed the custom of Indian heroes in the sorest straits. Getting down from his elephant, he made a firm stand on foot in the centre of the carnage, fighting with the valour of despair, without caring for his own life or stopping to count how many backed him. But this heroic sacrifice could not stem the tide of Rajput onset : two wounds stretched him low, and the Rajputs, flushed with success, swept on and pierced into the heart of the Van. This was the most critical moment of the day. If the Rajput charge were not checked, all would be over with Aurangzib ; the assailants, gathering impetus with each victory, would shatter his defence, and then all the divisions of his army would catch the contagion of panic and rush headlong out of the field.
But the Van was composed of his most picked troops, “eight thousand mail-clad warriors,” many of them hereditary fighters of the Afghan race, and their generals were reliable men. Muhammad Sultan, Najabat Khan, and other commanders of the Van, on their elephants kept their ground like hills, while the flood of Rajput charge raged round and round them in eddies. Here the most stubborn and decisive fighting of the day took place. Sword and dagger alone could be plied as the hostile cavaliers grappled together at close quarters. “The ground was dyed crimson with blood like a tulip-bed.” The Rajputs, being divided into many mutually antagonistic clans, could not charge in one compact mass ; they were broken up into six or seven bodies, each under its own chieftain and each choosing its own point of attack. Thus the force of their impact was divided and weakened as soon as it struck the dense mass of Aurangzib’s Van. Each clan engaged the enemy for itself and whirled round its own antagonist, instead of battering down all opposition and cleaving through the Van in resistless career by forming one solid wedge, moving with one will.
Only a few men from Jaswant’s Centre and Advanced Reserve had moved up to support their victorious brethren. But the Maharajah had chosen his position so badly that many of the Imperialists standing on the uneven ground could not join in the fight, and many others could not charge by reason of their being cramped within a narrow space. Half the Imperial Van, viz., the Mughal troops under Qasim Khan, rendered no aid to their Rajput comrades now struggling hard with Aurangzib’s Van ; they were suspected of collusion with the enemy or of antipathy to the Rajputs. The charge of Jaswant’s Vanguard was not followed up. Aurangzib’s troops, who had parted before the rushing tide, closed again behind them, and thus cut off their retreat. Jaswant, too, was not the cool and wise commander to keep watch on all the field and send timely support to any hard pressed division. And the development of the action now made the sending of aid to the Van impossible, and even rendered his own position untenable.
For, by this time the watchful eye of Aurangzib had taken the situation in, his Advanced Reserve had been pushed up to reinforce the Van, and he himself moved forward with the Centre to form a wall of support and refuge close behind them. Above all, Shaikh Mir and Saf Shikan Khan with the right and left wings of the Centre struck the Rajputs in the waist from the two flanks, while they were engaged with Aurangzib’s Van in front. Hemmed by foes on all sides, their ranks getting constantly thinned, without support or reinforcement arriving from their own army, the Rajputs were disheartened and checked. Mukund Singh Hada, their gallant leader, received an arrow through his eye and fell down dead. All the six Rajput chieftains engaged in the charge were slain. Hopelessly outnumbered now, assailed in front, right, and left, and cut off from their rear, the Rajputs were slaughtered after performing frantic deeds of valour, as was their wont. “The dead formed heaps. The daggers grew blunt with slaughter.” “Vast numbers of ordinary Rajput soldiers were killed.” Thus the first attack was annihilated.
Meantime the action had become general. Recovering from the shock of Mukund Singh’s charge as soon as the Rajput cavalcade swept on to another point, Aurangzib’s gunners, with their pieces mounted on high ground, concentrated their fire on the enemy’s Centre under Jaswant himself. The Imperialists, crowded together on a narrow ground flanked with impassable ditches and swamps, could not manoeuvre freely, and “sacrificed their lives like moths in the flame of war.” At the sight of the annihilation of their brave Vanguard and a triumphant forward movement on the part of Aurangzib, defection appeared in the Maharajah’s ranks. Rai Singh Sisodia from the right flank of the Centre, and Sujan Singh Bundela and Amar Singh Chandrawat from the Van, left the field with their clansmen and returned home.
But in the heart of the Imperial Centre, under the banner of Marwar, stood 2,ooo Rathors, ready to live or to die with their chieftain, besides many other Rajput and Mughal auxiliaries ; and these offered a stubborn opposition. But it was of no avail. For, meantime Murad Baksh with his division had fallen on Jaswant’s camp, close to the field, secured the submission of one of its defenders, Devi Singh Bundela, and driven off the rest. Then advancing into the field itself, Murad fell on the Left Wing of the Imperial army. Iftikhar Khan, the commander of this division, worn out with the day’s struggle and now attacked by fresh troops in overwhelming number, fought valiantly to the death ; many of his colleagues, traitors at heart, fled to join Aurangzib the next day ; and the Imperial Left Wing soon ceased to exist.
Rai Singh’s flight had already uncovered Jaswant’s right flank : the fall of Iftikhar Khan exposed his left. Meantime his Van had almost entirely melted away : part of it had perished around Mukund Singh in his heroic charge ; of the rest, the Chandrawat Rajputs and Bundelas had fled, and the Musalmans under Qasim Khan, who had kept aloof from the fighting, prepared to run away as they saw Aurangzib’s host advancing on them. Only one course was left to a Rajput general under such circumstances; he must charge into the thickest press of the enemy and die amidst a heap of the slain. And this Jaswant wanted to do. He had fought valiantly for four hours and by firmly keeping his own ground he had so long saved the Imperial Centre, , the pivot on which his whole army rested. In spite of two wounds, his voice and example had cheered the Rajputs. But now Aurangzib from the front, Murad from the left, and Saf Shikan Khan from the right, were converging on him like a tumultuous flood, to envelop his small remnant of clansmen. Such a combat could have only one issue : victory was impossible, but a hero’s death—no less dear to the Rajput heart—was within his reach. He wanted to drive his horse into the advancing enemy’s ranks and get slain. But his generals Askaran and Maheshdas Gaur, and Govardhan and other ministers seized his bridle and dragged his horse out of the field. Mughal princes might cut each other’s throats, but why should the head of the Rathors and the hope of Marwar give up his life in their domestic quarrel ? With a few Rathors, mostly wounded,—the sole remnant of his gallant band, the vanquished general took the road to Jodhpur.
The battle had been already lost, and flight of the Rathors removed the last semblance of resistance. There was now a general flight of the few divisions of the Imperial army that had still kept the field. The Rajputs retreated to their homes, the Muslims towards Agra.