Tazrikha by Anand Ram Mukhlis. A history of
Nâdir Shahs invasion of India.
In The History of India as Told by its own Historians. The Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 22, pp. 74-98.
The Tazrikha is an account of Nâdir Shahs rise to power and his invasion of India in 1739. Little is known about the author, Anand Ram Mukhlis, but the narrative makes it clear that he was a witness to the Shahs sack of Delhi and the massacre of many thousands of his inhabitants. It thus is a valuable record of this dark chapter in Indian history. The text is incomplete, and several sections of it are missing.
Following the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, a war of sucession broke out among his sons, which resulted to the rise to power of Bahadur Shah, who did not prove to be a capable leader. He died after only five years in 1712, when his four sons engaged in another war of succession. The victor, Farrukhsiyar, ascended to the throne in 1713, but ruled for only eleven months before being murdered himself. For several years thereafter the powerful Sayyid family put on the throne a series of phantom emperors, none of whom lasted very long. Finally, Muhammad Shah came to the throne in 1719, but he inherited a deeply crippled empire, one which was increasingly challenged by rival powers such as the Marathas in the south and the Sikhs in the Punjab.
In 1736, Nâdir Qulî Khan (also known as Tahmâsp Qulî Khan) overthrew the Safavî dynasty in Iran, and took the throne as Nâdir Shah. Once his position was secure in Iran he turned his sights to the wealthy but blundering Moghuls in India. In 1739 he led a large army into India via Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore, and encountered no resistance until he reached the Jumna at Karnal, where the Mughal army was waiting. He routed the imperial army, slaying 20,000 soldiers and collecting an immense booty. Muhammad Shah at this point submitted, becoming effectively a prisoner of Nâdir Shah. They continued on to Delhi, and entered together. Rumours circulated, however, that Nâdir Shah had died, resulting in an uprising that killed several hundred or thousand of the Iranian troops. Nâdir Shah then, seated in the Golden Mosque of Rashanu-d daula, ordered an massacre of the inhabitants of Delhi that continued for nine hours, until, at Muhammad Shahs urging, he ordered the end of the massacre. Many thousands were killed. Nâdir Shah then stripped away and carried off to Iran all of the wealth of Delhi, including Shah Jahans peacock throne. He also annexed Afghanistan and all of the territory west of the Indus river. His sack and massacre of Delhi rivaled that of Timurs in severity. He dealt what was effectively the death blow of the Moghul empire. Although the dynasty continued for another century, they never regained the power which was held up until the time of Aurangzeb.
The result of Muhammad Shah's visit to the Persian Emperor has been seen. Some days later, on the 24th of the month, Asaf Jah was deputed to finally settle sundry matters; but, through some unknown cause, this personage railed in his mission, and was detained in the camp. Muhammad Shah himself, neglecting the remonstrances of a few well-wishers who advised a further appeal to arms, then paid a second visit to the Persian Emperor on the 26th. Muhammad Shah, as a result of this interview, found it advisable to continue in the Persian camp, and ordered a part of the royal camp equipage to be brought. This was accordingly done. By degrees all the chief nobles of the State joined His Majesty. To all appearance they acted according to their inclination, but in truth under compulsion. Nasakchis were ordered to be in attendance on them; these in reality were but spies on their actions. How strange are the freaks of fortune! Here was an army of 100,000 bold and well-equipped horsemen, held as it were in captivity, and all the resources of the Emperor and his grandees at the disposal of the Kazalbash! The Mugbal monarchy appeared to all to be at an end.
A proclamation was issued to the army that all might depart who chose, as His Majesty himself was about to return to Shah- Jahanabad. The soldiers and camp followers now departed in crowds, and, with the exception of the chief dignitaries, and a few of lesser rank, who would have thought it a crime to abandon their master at such a time, the Emperor remained alone. Tahmasp [p. 86] Khan Jalar Wakilu-s Saltanat, Burhanu-l Mulk Bahadur, and Azimu-llah Khan Bahadur, were sent in advance by the Shah to have the fort prepared for his reception and to settle various other matters.
When the Shahs camp equipage arrived from Shahabad, the two Emperors set out. They made the journey seated together on an elevated car. Muhammad Shah entered the citadel (ark) of Shah-Jahanabad in great pomp on the 8th of Zi-l hijja, seated in his car; the conqueror followed on the 9th mounted on a horse. By a strange cast of the dice two monarches who, but a short while before, found the limits of an empire too narrow to contain them both, were now dwellers within the same four walls!
The next day Nadir Shah returned the Indian ruler's visit, and accepted the presents offered by the latter. When the Shah departed towards the close of the day, a false rumour was spread through the town that he had been severely wounded by a shot from a matchlock,1 and thus were sown the seeds from which murder and rapine were to spring. The bad characters within the town collected in great bodies, and, without distinction, commenced the work of plunder and destruction. A discharge of firearms and other missiles was continued throughout the night. The darkness of the night and the difficulty of recognizing friend or foe were the cause of numbers of the Kazalbashis being slain in the narrow lanes of the town. Scarce a spot but was stained with their blood.
On the morning of the 11th an order went forth from the Persian Emperor for the slaughter of the inhabitants. The result may be imagined; one moment seemed to have sufficed for universal destruction. The Chandni chauk, the fruit market, the Daribah bazaar, and the buildings around the Masjid-i Jama were set fire to and [p. 87] reduced to ashes. The inhabitants, one and all, were slaughtered. Here and there some opposition was offered, but in most places people were butchered unresistingly. The Persians laid violent hands on everything and everybody; cloth, jewels, dishes of gold and silver, were acceptable spoil.
The author beheld these horrors from his mansion situated in the Wakilpura Muhalla outside the city, resolved to fight to the last if necessary, and with the' help of God to fall at least with honour. But, the Lord be praised, the work of destruction did not extend beyond the above-named parts of the capital. Since the' days of Hazrat Sahib-kiran Amir Timur, who captured Dehli and ordered the inhabitants to be massacred, up to the present time, A.H. 1151, a period of 348 years, the capital had been free from such visitations. The ruin in which its beautiful streets and buildings were now involved was such that the labour of years could alone restore the town to its former state of grandeur.
But to return to the miserable inhabitants. The massacre lasted half the day, when the Persian Emperor ordered Haji Fulad Khan, the kotwal, to proceed through the streets accompanied by a body of Persian nasakchis, and proclaim an order for the soldiers to resist from carnage.2 By degrees the violence of the flames subsided, but the bloodshed, the devastation, and the ruin of families were irreparable. For a long time the streets remained strewn with corpses, as the walks of a garden with dead flowers and leaves. The town was reduced to ashes, and had the appearance of a plain consumed with fire. All the regal jewels and property and the contents of the treasury were seized by the Persian conqueror in [p. 88] the citadel. He thus became possessed of treasure to the amount of sixty lacs of rupees and several thousand ashrafis... plate of gold to the value of one kror of rupees, and the jewels, many of which were unrivalled in beauty by any in the world, were valued at about fifty krors. The peacock throne3 alone, constructed at great pains in the reign of Shah Jahan, had cost one kror of rupees. Elephants, horses, and precious stuffs, whatever pleased .the conquerors eye, more indeed than can be enumerated, became his spoil. In short, the accumulated wealth of 348 years changed masters in a moment.
1. Discharged by one of the female guards Imperial h.arem. -Jauhar-i Samsam.
2. Upon the solicitations of His Majesty Muhammad Shah, they ceased shedding the blood of the innocent. -Bayan-i Waki.
3. His Majestv bestowed on Nadir Shah, with his own munificent hand, as a parting present, the Peacock throne, in which was set a ruby upwards of a girih (three fingers' breadth) in width, and nearly, two in length, which was commonly called khiraj-i alam, tribute of the world. Jauhar-i Samsam.