Maharaja Churaman - Character and Estimate of Churaman

Character and Estimate of Churaman

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.,

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