Jaswant Singh (1851-1893) was a ruler of Bharatpur (Rajastan, India).
An extract from Babu Jwala Sahai «Story of Bharatpore» (Calcutta, 1898) is published below.
The administration of the state during Jaswant Singh’s minority was supervised by the British Government. The first political Agent was Major Morrison, and Dhau Gyasi Ram was selected with the consent of the Queen-mother as Regent.
For nearly two years the affairs were allotted to continue in their former way, but on his visit to Bhurtpore in 1855, Sir Henry Lawrence, Agent to the Governor-General for Rajputana, introduced reforms in the administration by establishing courts of justice in Bhurtpore and Deeg Districts and Bhurtpore city under Dewan Lalta Parshad, Choudhri Charan Singh and Foujdar Birj Ballab, respectively. Dhau Gulab Singh was put in charge of Deorhi or the Maharajah’s household, and regular revenue settlement was started under the superintendence of Captain Nixon with Lieut. Hamilton as Surveyor. Major Morrison supervised the whole administration and watched the progress of the Maharajah with particular care and attention. During the mutinies of 1857 Bhurtpore faithfully rendered good services to the British Government. A party of Nasirabad mutineers was driven out of Rudawal, many of the fugitives of the Murar contingent being defeated at Agra were arrested and made over to the authorities and a strong body of the Bhurtpore troops marching under personal command of Captain Nixon, then Political Agent, fought against-the rebels under Tantia Topi and put them to flight near Deosa in Jeypore. The only unhappy event that occurred was the refractory conduct of certain troops at Hodal, where Captain Nixon was obliged to leave the camp, but as it was more from a jealousy between the state officers than from disloyalty to the British Government the state was not much to blame.
In 1858, a Council of Regency was formed consisting of seven members,— Foujdars Gordhan Singh, Dhau Gyasi Ram, Choudhri Ratan Singh, Choudhri Girwar Singh, Dewan Lalta Parshad, Bakhshi Ganga Ram and Dewan Ram Parshad, and Babu Bhola Nath Das, an Assistant Surgeon, has appointed tutor to the Maharajah.
Major Bouverie was the Political Agent of Bhurtpore for two years from 1859; and the Maharajah was married to the daughter of Maharajah Narendr Singh of Patiala in the same year.
Captain Walter, who filled the office of the Political Agent for an unusual period of fourteen years, succeeded Major Bouverie in 1861; and Bhurtpore was brought to a most flourishing state under his able and excellent administration. In March 1862, M. Jaswant Singh, in common with other chiefs of India, received from Her Majesty’s Government, under the signature of Lord Canning, the adoption Sanad (No. V Aitchison’s Treaties) assuring that on failure of natural heirs, the adoption by the reigning chief of a successor, according to Hindu Law and customs of the race, will be recognized and confirmed, and that nothing shall disturb this agreement so long as the house remains loyal to the Crown and faithful to the treaties with the British Government.
In 1865 the Bhurtpore state agreed to cede the land required for railway purposes free of cost and to compensate the owners of the land to make over to the British Government full jurisdiction short of sovereign rights in the land and to abolish all transit duties on goods passing through by railway; but no formal agreement was concluded. The agreement is considered to be binding notwithstanding the Maharajah’s objecting, in 1873, to the Council’s power to assent to it.
In 1867-68 extradition treaty for mutual arrest and. surrender of criminals of the heinous offenses on requisition was concluded between the Bhurtpore state represented by Dewan Lalta Parshad and Captain C. K. M. Walter, the Political Agent, under the authority of Col. W. F. Eden, Agent to the Governor-General for Rajputana on the part of the British Government, and was ratified by Sir John Lawrence, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India. In order to make it conformable to Act XXI of 1879, the treaty was modified in 1889 by supplementary agreement providing that in the ease of the extradition of offenders from British India to Bhurtpore, the procedure for the time being in force in British India should in future be followed. This was concluded by Major N. C. Martilli and ratified by Lord Dufferin.
On the 10th January 1869, Captain Walter made over the administration to the Maharajah, subject to his observance of certain rules framed for his future guidance. These rules, which were twenty-six in number, required that the Maharajah should act according to the established usage, that he should consult the Political Agent on all important matters, and in judical cases requiring a heavier punishment than ten years’ imprisonment and s. free of Rs. 5oo, that the Regency Council should continue with the title of the State Council, that the Council and the Adawltis should exercise greater power than before, that no interference be made in the existing revenue settlement, and that the expenditure of the state should not exceed Rs. 22 1/2 lakhs per annum. The principal object of Captain Walter in framing these rules was to. strengthen the position of Dewan Lalta Parshad and Foujdar Baldeo Singh, who were both members of the Council and at the same time Adawltis of Bhurtpore and Deeg, respectively, and the very reason of their working in the double capacity was undesirable to the Maharajah for each of them as member of the Council or Appellate Court reciprocally upheld and confirmed the decisions of the other as Adawlti and great injustice was done by this means.
The Maharajah’s son, that was born on the 26th January 1868, died at Patiala on the 5th December 1869: and his death was followed by that of his mother on the 17th February 1870 at the same place.
The restrictions put on the Maharajah’s power were intended to last three years till the Maharajah came to the age of 21 years on the 28th March 1872; but Captain Cadell, who succeeded to the political Agency, submitted in July 1870 a report showing that the rules, while a source of discontent to the Maharajah, were futile and had no good result.
Dewan Lalta Parshad and Foujdar Baldeo Singh, he said, had been removed from the Council by a simple but reasonable order that every officer must attend his work throughout the office hours; for, these officers were paid for their duties in the Adawlats, they could spare no time to go to the Council where they were honorary members and therefore had to give up their seats at all.
In regard to the limit of the state expenditure to Rs. 22 1/2 lakhs, his remark was, that this restriction is unnecessary, because, «the failings of the chief do not incline towards extravagance.»
All other rules being in a like manner proved to be useless and ineffectual, it was determined by the Government of India to withdraw the restrictions and accordingly Col. J. C. Brooke, Agent to the Governor-General, invested His Highness with the full powers of Government on the 7th March 1878.
Long before obtaining the powers the Maharajah had been trained in business, and the experience he had gained under the friendly guidance of Captain Walter qualified him to conduct the affairs very creditably. For a few years in the beginning his Court, the Ijlas Khas, was held at the palace in the Bhurtpore fort, and Bakhshi Sanwal Singh assisted him by disposing of the ordinary part of the work before his coming to the office in the afternoon, which he did with strict punctuality. But finding it inconvenient to come to the town every day from a long distance, he removed the office to his residence at Sewar and thenceforth managed the state single-handed in a very effcient and excellent manner.
In July 1873 Bhurtpore was exposed to the danger of being drowned by the overflow of the Banganga and the Ruparel consequent on a heavy fall of rains in the Jeypore and Alwar territories. The floods of the former river found an extraordinary passage at Telchabi near Halena and breaking through the Sewar Band encircled the city from the south-west; while the Mote Jhil gave away from a sudden rush of the latter which spread round it on the north-east. The Circular Road, constructed by Major Morrison twenty years ago, served as a bulwark against the using water and saved the city by preventing its entrance into its walls. Numerous villages, portions of roads and Bands were swept away by the current, and the damages done to the private and public property were computed at Rs. 6,oo,ooo. The Kharif crops along the courses of the rivers were all destroyed by inundation, but the losses under this head were fully compensated by a rich produce of the Rabi harvest from the saturation left by high floods and excessive moisture.
Since the time of taking charge of the state M. Jaswant Singh had been anxious to have the political Agency Office withdrawn from his capital and believed his powers incomplete unless that office was removed in the same manner as it had been on his father’s coming to a mature age. His request was however disregarded for some years: but the Government being at last satisfied to learn that the chief was actuated to desire the change not by any want of loyalty to the imperial Government but with a mere ambition to gain the credit of managing his state without the help of the Political Agent, the office was removed to Agra where the Maharajah provided houses for the residence and office of the Political Agent.
The forest preserve extending over many square miles in the vicinity of Bhurtpore, locally called Ghana, abounded in wild cows which multiplying to a very large number committed ravages upon the crops both in the state and neighbouring British districts. The zemindars of Futehpur Sikri in Agra district having instituted a. claim for compensation against the state, Mr. Lawrence, the Collector, held an inquiry, but coming to the conclusion that the animals were not the state property it was not responsible for the damage done by them, but being prohibited by religion to injure them, it was obliged to suffer with forbearance a loss not less then that caused to the British districts, dismissed the claim and directed the zemindars to treat the animals in the manner they thought proper on their coming within the British border. The boundary has been subsequently fenced by iron bars and British districts have been saved from the damages. This restriction from outside, accompanied with the daily increase in the number of the brutes, has made their aggressions extend to long distances in the interior and the people are reduced to poverty by the loss.
In 1879, by an agreement made with the Imperial Government, the Bhurtpore state undertook the total suppression of the manufacture of salt and prohibition of the import and consumption of any other salt than that on which duty has been levied by the British Government within its territories, and the British Government purchased or levied duty on all salt then in possession of the subjects of the state and promised to pay the state an annual compensation of Rs. 1,5o,ooo by two equal and half-yearly instalments and to deliver every year, free of cost and duty, 1,ooo maunds of salt for the use of the Maharajah. The state duty on salt, sugar and other saccharine produces, except local cesses, such as octroi and chungi on these articles imported for consumption in towns of above 5,ooo inhabitants, were also abolished.
Sets of rules for facilitating the mutual arrest and surrender of criminals were introduced by approval of the Government of India, between Bhurtpore and Alwar in 1882 and between Bhurtpore and Karoli, Dholepore and Jeypore in 1883.
In 1884 the Bhurtpore Durbar abolished all transit duties, with the exception of those on liquior, opium and other intoxicating drugs, throughout the state.
On the 1st August 1885, in consequence of frequent dispute regarding the irrigation of lands by the waters of the Ruparel an exchange of Khera, Latki, Sitaram Ka Nagla, Mankhera. and Garu villages, hitherto of Bhurtpore, with Pipal lKhera, Maleki Nakatpore, Bakhshee Ka and Talchera of Alwar was effected and sanctioned by the Government of India on 22nd January 1886.
In 1886 the Thakurs of Pathena assumed a refractory conduct by obstinately refusing to pay Dami or pay of the Patwari appointed to secure the uninformity of revenue records and collect statistics similar to those of the Khalsa or fiscal lands. All means to explain the object and to assure them, that nothing was intended to interfere in their prerogatives, having failed, the Maharajah, with the previous sanction of the Imperial Government, sent troops to carry out his orders by force of arms. The Thakurs preparing to oppose such of them as resided at Bhurtpore or served in the army were allowed to retire and join their brethern in defending their home which they did creditably for a few days. But Pathena was at last stormed, some hundred men of the garrison were slain, the rest fled away, the fort was dismantled and the village was confiscated. Many of the fugitives were subsequently arrested and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
Maharajah Jaswant Singh, with whose reign this little work comes to a close, was a strong, sagacious and energetic ruler. With the benefit of a good education in English and the vernacular, received under the fostering care of Col. Walter, he thoroughly understood the details of the administration and dealt with every question competently and with perfect facility. Sober in his thoughts and patient in working, he was never out of humour, and as his actions were always guided by deliberate consideration, seldom did his projects fail in success.
Economy of time and rare punctuality in daily routines enabled him to discharge his onerous duties creditably. Invariably he got up at 3 A. M., was sure to be on the parade at day-break, never failed in attending his office at 2 P. M. and despatched the whole business within three or four hours.
In transacting business he strictly adhered to the principle of never leaving a work for the next day. Whatever might be the amount, he was sure to finish the day’ s work on the same day, and no time was allowed to intervene between passing and issuing orders. The judicial cases were heard in presence of all the parties concerned and no decision was given before carefully hearing and judiciously pondering over the whole of what each individual had to say. He distributed an even-handed justice, and except in cases where state interests were involved, his decisions were just and proper.
The discipline of the army was his favourite pursuit; and he improved it to such a degree that the troops of a. few native states could be superior to his in promptitude and efficiency. The manly exercise he took by personally commanding the troops, was much conducive to his health; and being naturally of a stout constitution he rarely suffered from any sickness which the native princes are often subject to.
From the simplicity of manners he could not be distinguished from a. common cavalier, and he required similar simplicity from all around him. For nothing he had a more decided aversion than to an arrogant pretension of dignity and to a feigned personal delicacy. Everyone had a free access to him, but he was not credulous to an interested story and his keen intellect instantly detected a remotest remark tending to cajole him or to gain a particular object.
His knowledge of the state and its people was unusually extensive, and knowing as many of his subjects and servants as a chief in his position cannot be excepted, he readily formed an appropriate opinion of them.
Ordinarily he was reserved in speech rather than talkative, but on occasions he was sufficiently communicative and plainly explained the reasons which led him to come to a certain conclusion.
Considerate in conversation, he addressed every one in polite terms; harsh words and abusive language were foreign to his habit. He was never in an angry or agitated state of mind, and even in delivering a most severe sentence he took care not to provoke anyone’s feelings.
Firm in his principles, he invariably observed the social and religious ceremonies. Each of his visits to Calcutta was followed by a pilgrimage to Jagan Nath, and he took opportunities to visit Nathdwara, Hardwar, Pushkar and other sacred shrines. He built a temple at the entrance of the compound of his residence at Sewar, and regularly attended the services in it.
Though extremely jealous of an interference in his own authority, he was particularly careful to comply with the wishes of the Supreme Government, and met the officers with much cordiality. On numerous occasions he visited the Viceroys at Simla and in Calcutta and the Agent to the Governor-General at Ajmere and Abu. Splendid receptions with much hospitality were given to the Viceroys and the Royal Princes on their visits to Bhurtpore and Deeg, and Europeans officers, who happened to be at his capital, were treated as welcome guests.
In recognition of this sense of duty he was invested with the insignia of G. C. S. I. in the Imperial Assemblage of Delhi in 1877 and in 1890 his personal salute was raised from 17 to 19 guns.
This flattering sketch of his character, though in no way exaggerated, may not lead one to believe the Maharajah Jaswant Singh was, model of par excellence. He had his failings too, but as they were few in comparison with the numerous good qualities that made his government strong and effective, it is not much necessary to make a comment on them.
The army of Bhurtpore including irregulars, as reported in 1890 consisted of 8,207 infantry, 1,647 cavalry, 298 gunners and 12 guns as serviceable. Of these forces the Durbar has placed a regiment of 6oo cavalry and another of 800 infantry at the disposal of the Government of India for Imperial service.
After a successful reign of 22 years and in the 42nd year of his age Maharajah Jaswant Singh died on the 12th December 1893 leaving two sons,— Maharajah Ram Singh and Rao Rughnath Singh.