Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Smart Arain Punjabi - Adina Beg Khan (1710-1758)

While studying history, we usually mislead by “Titles.” Look this name, Adina Beg Khan, who looks Turk or Afghan yet he was an Arian Punjabi who ruled Lahore, Jalandhar, Sir-hind and had vassal states like Jammu, Kapurthala, and Kangra. He managed Sikh Punjabis, Marathas, Delhi, and Afghans smartly.

Adina Beg Khan was born near Lahore at Sharaqpur Shareef in 1710. With his political maneuvering, he managed to rule out Dehli and Kabal supremacy, used Turk titles for himself like Beg and Khan which was a usual practice.

Just check Beg, Khan, Singh, Aga (Agha), these are titles like “Sir” or Khan Bahadur yet now we have an impression that these are hereditary but it was not. We usually attribute them either with race, ethnicity or area which mislead history in general.

Adina was “Dina” who was born in the Punjab at the time when States or provinces were gaining power, moving towards autonomy and had semi-independence, based on particular areas.

From Bengal to Punjab we had more than a dozen semi-independent groups in different areas, associated with river channel trades. Some linked with sea trade like Surat (Indian Gujrat) or Lahori Bandar (Thatta, now in Sindh but was linked with Lahore via Multan) while many were linked with land trade routes. They were centers of revenue.

Even in Mughal times, they had semi-independence, yet it was the colonial rule in which they experienced centralism and by using modern statecraft especially Law, education and centralized administration British Indian administration ruined their history smartly.

So when Adina born there was a rise of semi-independent states. Those states were quarreling and negotiating with one another and we had many examples from Bengal till Kabul yet our colonial masters told us that they were only quarreling.

At that time we had British and French powers in our lands who also participated in a power struggle. Mughals practically lost their authority till 1739 when Nadir Shah came which enabled emerging powers to get more strength.

Adina Beg started his political journey when he became Faug-Dar of Jalandhar Doab (old name Bast Doab), which was very rich in revenue. According to Hein Sin, a 7th-century chine’s traveler, that area was very rich.

Adina Beg managed power players smartly and then with smart political maneuvering he ruled the Punjab. From Dina, he became Adina and then selected titles like Beg and Khan for himself, a usual tradition.

The story of Adina Beg reminds us that there were many Adinas at our lands, but we usually failed to recognize them due to their titles. Read it and enjoy histography, one day we South Asians will able to change colonial history and can include such things in our textbooks too.

Adina Beg Khan, the son of Channu, of the Arain agriculturalist caste, mostly settled in Doaba region of the Punjab, was born in the village of Sharakpur, near Lahore, now in Sheikhupura district of Pakistan. Adina Beg Khan was brought up in Mughal homes, for the most part in Jalalabad, Khanpur, and Bajvara in the Jalandhar Doab. Starting his career as a soldier, he rose to be a collector of revenue of the village of Kang in the Lohian area, near Sultanpur Lodhi.

He obtained half a dozen villages in Kang area on lease and within a year the entire Kang region. After some time Nawab Zakariya Khan, the governor of Lahore, appointed him Chief (Hakam) of Sultanpur Lodhi.

When after Nadir Shah’s invasion (1739), Sikhs started gaining power, Zakariya Khan made Adina Beg Khan Administrator (Nazim) of the Jalandhar Doab, to suppress the Sikhs. Shrewd as he was, he tried to strengthen his own political position by strengthening the position of Sikhs by encouraging Sikhs instead of repressing them.

Under pressure from Zakariya Khan, he, however, had to expel the Sikhs from his dominion. Therefore he stopped to pay the revenue and due to nonpayment of government due's he was taken into custody under the orders of the Governor of Lahore and subjected to torture. On being set free after a year, due to his political importance in Jalandhar Doab, he was appointed as the Deputy Administrator (Nazim) of Jalandhar Doab under Shah Nawaz Khan.

After Zakariya Khan`s death on 1st, July 1745, his sons, Yahiya Khan and Shah Nawaz Khan contested succession. Adina Beg Khan maintained good relations with both. Shah Nawaz Khan having captured Lahore and appointed Adina Beg Khan Administrator (Nazim) of Jalandhar Doab.

Meanwhile, Nadir Shah died on 19 June 1747 and Ahmad Shah Durrani became ruler of Kabul and Qandahar. Shah Nawaz Khan following Adina Beg Khan`s advice invited the Durrani King to march towards the Punjab, warning at the same time the Government at Delhi about the Durrani`s invasion.

As Ahmad Shah advanced into the country, Shah Nawaz fled towards Delhi. Mu`in-ul-Mulk (Mir Mannu), son of Qamar-ud-Din, the Chief Wazir of the Delhi King, succeeded in checking the invader at Manupur, near Sirhind.

Adina Beg Khan joined hands with Mu`in-ul-Mulk and was wounded in the battle. Mu`in-ul-Mulk became Governor of Lahore, with Kaura Mall as his Diwan and Adina Beg Khan as Administrator (Nazim) of the Jalandhar Doab as before.

Adina Beg Khan, on one hand, would woo Sikhs to join him against Mughals on the other hand, he had secret links with Afghanis, while he drew his salary from Mughals.

Sikhs again started plundering the country. Ahmad Shah Durrani launched upon his third incursion into the Punjab (December 1751), this time, forcing Mu`in-ul-Mulk to surrender. Mu`in-ul-Mulk surrendered and remained Governor, now on the behalf of Durrani`s.

Mu`in-ul-Mulk and Adina Beg Khan directed their energies towards quelling the Sikhs. On the festival of Hola Mohalla on March 1753, Adina Beg Khan fell upon Sikh pilgrims at Anandpur killing a large number of them. The Sikhs retaliated by plundering villages in the Jalandhar and Bari Doabs.

Adina Beg Khan was as quick in coming to terms as he was in opening hostilities. He assigned some of the revenue of his territory to the Sikhs and admitted several of them, including Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, into his army. Thus the Sikh Misals started to rise to a position of supremacy in the Punjab.

Mu`in-ul-Mulk died on 3 November 1753, and during the time of his widow, Murad Begam (Mughlani Begum), Adina Beg Khan assumed independent authority in the Doab, extending his influence up to Sirhind (March 1755). The Emperor of Delhi bestowed on him the title of Zafar Jarig Khan. The ruler of Kangra accepted his overlordship.

In May 1756, he was appointed as Governor of Lahore and Multan by the Mughal Government of Delhi on payment of an annual tribute of a thirty lakh of rupees.

On November 1756, Ahmad Shah Abdali came to Mughlani Begam`s help and invaded Punjab for the fourth time and captured Lahore but soon he returned to Afghanistan leaving behind his son Timur Shah at Lahore.

Adina Beg Khan took refuge in the Sivalik hills and due to the political influence of Adina Beg Khan in Jalandhar Doab, the Afghans reappointed him Administrator (Nazim) of the Jalandhar Doab.

During Taimur Shah`s governorship (1757-58), Adina Beg Khan began to look around for allies with a view to expelling the Afghans. The Sikhs and Adina Beg Khan`s troops joined hands and defeated the Afghans at Mahalpur, in Hoshiarpur district.

Adina Beg Khan expressed his gratitude to the Sikhs by presenting a sum of a thousand rupees as an homage to the Guru Granth Sahib and a lakh and a quarter as protection money for the Jalandhar Doab.

By 1758, Adina Beg Khan met the Sikhs and requested their help to throw out the Afghans representative from Lahore. Soon Hari Singh Bhangi along with his son Jhanda Singh, Gujjar Singh, Lehna Singh built a combined front with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jai Singh Kanahiya, Charat Singh Sukerchakia and other Sikh Sardars. 

Keeping up appearances with the Sikh Sardars, he wished to weaken the power of Afghans in Punjab and invited to this end Marathas who had taken Delhi to come to the Punjab, offering them one lakh of rupees a day on the march.

He also persuaded Sikhs to help the Marathas against the Afghans. The Marathas led by Raghunath Rao and accompanied by the forces of the Sikhs and those of Adina Beg Khan entered Lahore in April 1758. Timur Shah fled to Afghanistan and they captured the city of Lahore without any great effort.

Adina Beg Khan got the Subahdar of the Punjab at 75 lakh of rupees a year to be paid to the Marathas. The Punjab had now three masters: the Mughals, the Afghans, and the Marathas, but in reality only two Adina Beg Khan and the Sikhs.

Adina Beg Khan succumbed to an attack of colic in Batala on 10 September 1758. He died at age of 48. His dead body was buried, honoring his will, at Khanpur, 2 km Northwest of Hoshiarpur.

Adina Beg Khan was a bridging and binding force to unite the Muslim Punjabis and Sikh Punjabis to liberate the Punjab from Mughal invaders, to control the Afghans, to maneuver the Marathas by smartly managing the Afghans to deteriorate the Mughal invaders in Punjab and handling the Marathas to throw out Afghans from Punjab. But after his death, the defenders of Punjab were the only Sikhs.

If Adina Beg Khan had not died at the age of 48 and had a life for a decade or two then the Secular Empire of Punjab was presumed in 1760’s under Kingship of Adina Beg Khan and liberated Punjab from Mughal invasion would not have been plundered by the Afghans and due to Muslim Punjabi and Sikh Punjabi harmony with political strategies and political maneuvering skills of Adina Beg Khan along with physical power of Sikh armed forces Punjab would have been a powerful state of South Asia.


However, Maharajah Ranjit Singh accomplished the mission of Adina Beg Khan in 1799. Almost 777 years of foreign rule, starting from the Turkish invader Mahmud of Ghazni in 1022 after ousting the Hindu Shahi ruler Raja Tarnochalpal, until the time Maharajah Ranjit Singh entered the gates of Lahore on July 7, 1799; Punjabis had not ruled their own land. By establishing the Sikh Empire of Punjab on 12th April 1801 with the Secular Punjabi Rule, Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the Kashmir valley, Ladakh, along with modern day Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and annexed it into the Empire of Punjab.