As a lad, I imagined the origin of Sind, my beloved country, thus : Brahma, the great Architect of the Universe, had planned out His world, and finished the entire structure of the frame from the limited portion of the Primal Dust assigned to Him for His creation. The plan being completed, He found to His discomfiture a little of the Dust still remaining. He knew not how to dispose of it. For be it known, even the Great Architect has to do His work according to a preconceived model, which philosophers name the archetypal. The types in the plan having been exhausted, the little bit remained. The Maker simply knew not what to do, and so, I suppose in utter frenzy, He threw it away, and the poor thing was attached to the tail-end of the Punjab. Thus it was that Sind came to be; and therefore is it that it has come to be called the Desert Valley. It is built on no model, hence it is supposed to be a barren country. Not many people undertake with pleasure the journey to Sind through the burning sands of the desert. The J. B. Railway carries passengers through the desert at night, otherwise it would be hardly possible to think of such a journey. Even then it is very trying, as through the gates of the body – mouth, ears and nose – the sand makes inroads. I was familiar from childhood with the hills of Sind, called Ganja Hills. “Ganja” means “bald” and these hills are utterly bald, hardly anything green can be found on them, only rarely on some thing thus brought into existence. Discarded by Brahma, it prayed to Shiva, and Shiva came to its help. He is Lord of the barren grounds and butning-places, so this barren thing sent its supplication to Him from the crown of whose head flow the eternal holy waters that nourish Hindustan. Shiva heard the prayer of my country, and behold ! His mercy changed the original plan inasmuch as He extended the course of the “river of the five waters,” so that it flowed into this desert as the river Sindhu. So it is we have the distinction of being called Sindhis.
The queen of rivers made Sind its last abode, and turned the desert into a valley green and fruitful. On both sides of the eternal river grow fields of waving corn, and the soil has become rich. The desert was driven down, and now begins only where Sind ends, at Chor its last town. If only the Britisher had maintained the river routes, the journey to Sind from the Punjab would have been the most enjoyable of trips -the broad breast of the Sindhu, with its ever green banks, grassy lands and noble trees instead of the desert railway. The river also saves us from the scorching winds of the desert, and in some places turns them into sweet refreshing breezes. Shiva said to Sind, His humble devotee, “The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first”. Hence it is a part of my theory that Sind is not destined to be always the last.
Sir Charles Napier, the English General who conquered Sind, prophesied : “Karachi will be the Queen of the East”. Karachi, the capital of Sind, is the port which the Greeks called “Alexander’s Heaven”. It did not prove lucky for Alexander; but it is bound to fulfil its destiny in the near future. Since the War it has already become the connecting link between Iraq and India and , geographically, it is the first and the nearest port in India to Europe. Bombay has long usurped the status of karachi but Karachi is bidding fair to come into its own; and we Sindhis, without wishing other countries to be the last, hope that our land will yet raise her head among the Sister Provinces, fair daughters of India our Mother, and bring credit and glory to Beloved Hindustan. Sind, miscalled the desert valley, has within it a garden of mysticism : it is the land of Sufis and of Saints. It bears a holy flower within its breast : the great mystics of Sind placed this treasure there : it will give its fragrance freely to all who seek. My endeavour in this little volume, written for the Asian Library, will be to narrate something of Sind and its Sufis.
ARYAN, GREEK AND SCYTHIAN
The first mention of Sind is to be found in the Mahabharata, where Jayadratha the Aryan king of Sind fought against Krishna – on the side of the Kauravas against the Pandavas. At first jayadratha was on the side of the Pandavas; but afterwards he turned against them and joined the Kauravas, and even attempted to take away Draupadi by force. In this, however, he failed, and was driven out by the Pandavas. This is what is told about Sind in the Mahabharata, surely not much to the credit of poor Sind ! Mention is also made in the Upanishads about Sind being famous for horses ! It is not known how long the Aryan kings ruled in the land, but Sind is next mentioned in History about five centuries before Christ, when Darius, the King of Iran (Persia), attacked India, captured the Punjab and then sailed from Peshawar in boats down the river Indus, and conquered it.
No details are to be found about the condition of Sind at this time beyond the statement that Punjab and Sind were both very rich countries paying a million sterling in gold dust as taxes to Darius. How much of Iranian culture and civilisation found its way into Sind by this invasion cannot be ascertained; but it is necessary to notice it, as Sind is the portion of India that has, perhaps, come into contact with more civilisations than any other. For two centuries again the curtain falls, and nothing more is known. The velil is lifted in 326 B.C., when Alexander the Great conquered the Punjab and explored the Indus with a fleet of about two thousand ships. He travelled down the river Jhelum, and pounced on the territory of King Mousikanos, one of the rulers of Sind in that part of the country now called Sukkur. Alexander surprised the King by his onslaught; and the poor man submitted, being so advised by his Brahmana councillors, but soon repented, and rebelled against the conqueror. Alexander seems to have been wildly enraged at this, and in his fury pursued the poor King, captured and executed him. Not satisfied even with this, he went to the lenght of killing the Brahmanas wholesale. This seems to have had a terrifying effect on the rest of the Province, and Sambos the ruler of Shiva-asthan (the modern Sehwan) also surrendered, while Moeris, the ruler of Patalene (Lower Sind) fled from his territory.
The capital of Lower Sind in Alexander’s day seems to have been Patala or what is now known as Tatta. This is not certain; but mention is made of the delta where Alexander built his dockyard. The river Sindhu flowed by Tatta, and it was down this arm of the river that Alexander sailed back towards the Indian Ocean. Tatta, now chiefly in ruins – even in the latter days of Hindu, and afterwards of Muslim rule-was one of the best known centres of commerce and manufactures in india. It is said that the city population numbered many lacs. Muslim histories mention Tatta as one of the most important centres of their civilisation, and as having great institutions of learning, both Persian and Arabian. This same Patala was in the days of Pliny, four centuries later, known to the Romans as one of the most flourishing centres of trade. Alexander fortified Patala and made it the chief base of his further campaigns into unconquered territories; he himself led a long march into Makran and Persia, leaving his fleet under Commander nearchoes, who passed through Kakrala (now known as Shahbunder), but unfortunately suffered obstruction and damage in a place which they called “Alexander’s Haven,” but which was most probably the port of Karachi.
So then the original Aryan civilisation in Sind had been by this time influenced by the Iranian contact and further by the pressure of the virile Greeks. India was passing through a great upheaval; the religious wave of Buddhism had made inroads into the cherished preserves of the Brahmanas; Gautama’s influence had stirred the whole of India; and though Buddhism made its home later on in the Far East, still its influence was indelible and undeniable. It had awakened the country politically, and thus the great Chandragupta was afterwards able to wield his enormous control over this vast territory, from Pataliputra, the modern Patna, his capital. Alexander had gone into the interior of Western India only; and, after the dissolution of his empire, the Greeks had to make a treaty with Chandragupta, and Sind came directly under his rule. Chandragupta’s successors, Bindusara and Ashoka, ruled over India. Ashoka being the great pillar of Buddhism, naturally Buddhism made headway during his reign, and Sind came largely under its influence. Even to-day relies are found. A few years back, ruins near Mirpurkhas were unearthed, and revealed a Buddhies Settlement with Buddhist idols, etc. The three magnanimous rulers of the Mauryan dynasty united India into something like a Nortion; and their achievement draws from us admiration and wonder when we think of those times when there were neither trains nor steamers, nor telegraphs, nor aeroplanes.
Things changed again after Ashoka, and Sind, the frontier country, suffered much from the inroads of foreigners-this time the terrible, ravaging tribes of the Scythians. Before the Scythians engulfed the land with their hordes, the Greek kings of Bactria had once again begun to claim control over Sind; but in this new onrush of the Scythians the kingdom of Bactria gave way, and the savage hordes attacked India, chiefly through Sind. Hordes and hordes of Scythians entered the fertile fields of Sind. They had more an insatiable greed for possessing the riches of the country, and less an unholy Just of conquest; their savage ruthlessness, well nigh denuded the land of its inhabitants; but the immortal King of Ujjain, the great Vikramaditya, drove them back, and thus put an end to their murderous assaults. It was the desert between Sind and Ujjain that saved the rest of India from the savagery of the invaders who turned back and settled in Sind, which was at this time named Indoscythia. The Scythians made Sind their permanent abode and, even now, a very large number of its people are of Scythian tribes, specially the Jats and the Meds, were numerous in Sind, and to the present day they are calledjuts meaning illiterate. Even the culture of the Arabs had no influence on these people and up till now Sind is perhaps the most illiterate province in the whole of India. Out of the twenty-six lacs of Muslims in Sind, two percent are literate, and out of seven lacs of Hindus seven percent are literate. This illiteracy is the heritage probably from the Scythian. Jats who lived in huts made of reeds on the banks of the Indus, fish and waterfowl being their chief articles of diet. Even now many of the people live in the same way; they go by the name of muhanas or fishermen and some of them still call themselves Meds. Their brother Jats are engaged in agriculture, simple otherwise in their lives, but primeval in their passions.
The Scythians had no governing genius, hence they were soon over-powered by the kings of India. In those days Buddhimsm was the chief religion especially of the ruling classes and it spread most easily in Sind where there was less orthodoxy, the Greeks having killed the Brahmanas. Buddhism however did not hold sway in India for long; the Hindu religion again revived and Sind shared in this revival. It came under the rule of Hindu kings; but its population had a good mixture of Hindus and Buddhists. The great Chinese traveller, Hiuen tsang, mentions this fact in his memoirs. Later on, under the Rajput Hindu dynasty, Sind became a powerful country; its borders stretched up to Multan and even to Cashmere; and among the Rajput ocuntries, it held its head high. Rai Sihasi, the Rajput King of Sind, sent his governors to rule in the important centres of his territory, Brahmanabad (now in ruins), Shivasthan, Multan, etc. Sihasi was a relative of the king of Chitore. He had a Brahmana minister named Chach, who was as subtle as he was brave and handsome. The beauty of Chach had captured the heart of the wife of King Sihasi, after whose death the Brahmana seized his throne. He married the widow of his former master, and killed the remaining members of the royal house. He defeated the king of Lassabela who was a Buddhist.
THE COMING OF ISLAM
Chach ascended the throne of Sind in A.D. 631. The great prophet of Islam died in Arabia in the year A.D. 632. Chach ruled Sind for forty years. During these forty years the religion of Islam spread like wild fire and the star of Islam was in the ascendant. The Indian Ocean lay between Arabia and India, and the eyes of the energetic and enthusiastic Arabs were fixed on Sind. They had kept themselves fully informed of the conditions in that country. Their boats had carried merchandise on the indian seas; their men had landed on the shores of Sind and brought back full accounts of the state of disorder and disharmony prevailing there. Sind was a house divided against itself – diverse peoples, with diverse religions, an and political dissensions. The king was a Hindu, but many governors of the forts were Buddhists. Even the Hindus were divided against each other, as many resented the treachery of Chach against the House of Sihasi. The Arabs made experimental attacks on Sind by sea, but they were driven back by the help of the hardy Jats. Chach died in A.D. 671: and after this the efforts of the Arabs grew more persistent, and the dissensions among the Sindhis more and more serious, until at last the storm burst in the year A.D. 711 when Dahar, the younger son of Chach, was on the throne.
The Arabs had been watching and waiting for the opportunity which now came to them. A vessel that was carrying slaves and presents for Hajjaj, the Ruler of Iraq (Mesopotamia), was raided by some pirates off the Sind coast, near Debal; and the Arabs were either killed or imprisoned. King Dahar was threatened by a then united Arabia; Hajjaj, with the permission of the Khalif of Bagdad, sent his nephew and son-in-law, Mahomed Kassim, with a force of twelve thousand horsemen and camelmen. Kassim was a lad of twenty only ! Dahar prepared for the battle; but treachery had already ruined his prospects of victory. His son Bajhra was the ruler of Shivasthan (Sehwan); but as the people of that part of Sind were Budhists, they refused to fight, even for their king. The Arabs, after releasing the Arab prisoners on the raided vessel at Debal, marched on Sehwan and captured it Then they took Nerun (Hyderabad), and came face to face with Dahar. Dahar had twenty thousand infantry, five thousand horsemen, princes of the royal blood, and sixty elephants. It is said that King Dahar was seated on an elephant with two beautiful girls, one supplying him with arrows as fast as he could shoot, and the other handing him betel nuts ! If this is true it speaks eloquently of the utter degradation that was the cause of the ruin of Dahar’s army and the victorious rush of Mahomed Kassim. Very soon marched on to Multan.
The Arabs were relentless in their treatment of any city that did not submit; in that case they put to death every fighting man; but those that yielded and paid full tribute were not treated with rigour. Mahomed Kassim reigned victoriously for three years, and then was suddenly called away to Iraq.
A strange tale has woven itself round Kassim’s tragic death. There are some who deny it; but tradition and some written accounts maintain it. When the Arabs took possession of Sind they gathered up the virgin daughtersof the land and sent them away to Arabia; it is said that many thousands of girls were despatched, among them the two beautiful daughters of King Dahar, specially meant for the harem of the Khalif of Bagdad. When the girls reached Bagdad, it is said that they took revenge on Mahomed Kassim by betraying him to the Khalif, charging Kassim of first violating their virginity and then sending them on to the Khalif. The anger of the Khalif knew no bounds, specially when he became the victim of the superb charms of the Hindu princesses. He ordered that Mahomed Kassim be relieved of his governorship in Sind, and be packed alive in a raw cowhide and despatched to Bagdad. It is also said that, after this miserable death of Kassim, the King of Bagdad became aware of the treachery of the two girls, or else their sway over him had waned considerably in the meanwhile, for the King ordered that they should be stitched up in the belly of an ass, after being dragged through the streets of Bagdad ! One cannot vouch for the truth of this tale; but one thing is certain, that Mahomed Kassim was sent for and executed at Bagdad by the order of the King. Thus ended his heroic career.
The Arabs settled in Sind permanently, but some places still remained in the hands of the Hindus. Jaisiya, son of King Dahar, rebelled and made a stand against the Arabs; he took Brahmanabad, and in order to confirm his position he became a convert to Islam, but soon picked a quarrel with the Arab governor who ruled on the other side of the river, and was killed. It appears that the rule of the Hindus continued in the region of Brahmanabad and Alore. The favourite pursuit of Arab rulers was to convert the people of Sind to Islam. Those of Scythian origin, after they had been defeated and humbled by the Arab conquerors, seem to have taken easily to islam, but the Hindus resisted. The Arabs fully utilised their methods of conversion. Their favourite and special tax,jasia, was specially levied on those unfortunates who would not give up their religion, they were decried as unbelievers and had to pay double rates in customs and other duties.
Very soon dissensions arose in Arabia itself; the bitter fight for the Khilafat relected itself in Sind in the weakening of Arab rule. About forty years after the entry of the Arabs into Sind, the Abbaside Khalifs gained supremacy over the Ummaiyides; and the Arab governors in Sind were therefore replaced by others sent by the Abbaside Khalif, who became the chief ruler of Islamic countries. The former Arab settlers were not disturbed : they were left in peace. Not much is known about the condition of Sind during the century and a half that followed; but it seems that it was divided between the Arabs, the Hindus and the unruly tribes of Scythian origin, who again took to plunder.
MUSLIM INDIAN INVASIONS
It was at this period, that the terrible series of Muslim invasions of India took place. Mahomed Ghazni thundered at its gates and found no difficulty in entering, and making himself conqueror of th eland. In A.D. 1026 he sent his Vazir, Abdur Razak, to conquer Sind. Abdur Razak drove out the Arab governors then ruling and appointed others of his own choice. Mahomed Ghazni was not a friend of the Arabs; and this onslaught of his considerably reduced the Islamie influence and religious control of the Arabs. Thus other forces made their way into the civilisation of Sind. (The culture of Persia had also been penetrating into Sind). The language of the Ghaznis and others that followed was chiefly Persian, and this language became the language of the Sind Courts and began to spread among the peoples. the culture of Persia had a liberalising effect on Islam in Sind.
Sind, during the many invasions tha t followed, was not however much desturbed. The Ghaznis went and the Ghoris came; the governors were changed, but there was little stir among the people. The Sindhis had by this time become habituated to the change of masters. Shahbuddin Ghori sent a favourite Turkish slave to rule over Sind. So one governor went and another came, who kept an army of mercenaries. After the Ghori came the Khilji dynasty; and, while Altamash, after usurping the throne of Delhi, was trying to extend his authority to other provinces, another event occurred that defeated the efforts of Delhi to control other provinces.
Ghengez Khan, the Mogul, had carried his banner far and wide. Already his name inspired terror in the countries of the East. The Moguls entered the Punjab, ravaged the land, gathered enormous booty, and passed on to Sind, killing ten thousand prisoners in cold blood. They went back laden with booty, but came once again to Sind. This time the Emperor of Delhi resisted them successfully. It was at this period that Sind separated from Multan, as the region near Multan was strongly fortified by the rulers of Delhi in order to ward off the attacks of the invaders through the Punjab. Sind remained under the rule of Delhi, but its governor was virtually independent. For a time the Governor sent by the Khilji Emperor ruled well and kept the people of Sind in hand; but, when he himself ascended the throne of Delhi after the fall of the house of Khilji, Sind was free from the control of the strong man’s arm, and again the Sindhis began to assert their independence. A tribe called the Sumras unfurled the flag of freedom and established their own Raj near Tatta, making it the capital of their kingdom. These Sumras were originally Rajputs, but during the course of time had been converted to Islam. The Sumra Rajputs and other Hindus do not seem to have gone altogether out of power during the intervening centuries, but worked under the suzerainty of the Indian rulers.
THE FALL OF BRAHAMANABAD
One of the Hindu rajas who attained to inglorious fame was Raja Dalurai; his country seems to have attained a high degree of prosperity. Tradition says that this king was powerful and brave, but was a devil incarnate of insatiable I=lust. he deflowered the virgins of the land and ordered that any virgin that was married must first contact the touch of his infamy. A girl of Brahmana family, a pious and pure virgin, found herself in danger. Her virtue and honour were more dear to her than all else. She prayed to the Champion of the pure and the chaste for relief from the power of this demoniacal Dalurai. Already evel portents in the land had not been lacking . Prophets and star-readers prognosticated a huge calamity. It is said that, on the night of the marriage of this girls, a terrific cyclone and a tremendous earthquake destroyed the country of Dalurai, and the huge city was a complete ruin.
Whether tradition is correct regarding the story of the virgin can never be ascertained, but it is a fact that the ruins of Brahmanabad and Alore can to this time be witnessed. They stretch for many miles. The sight at Brahmanabad is awe-inspiring. A solitary tower, mostly dilapidated, stands witness to the terrible catastrophe that occurred centuries back. It is possible that, if delved in, this soil may yield up many marvels of antiquity.
SUMRAS AND SAMMAS
History is not clear about the reign of the Sammas and Sumras. There are some who think that the Sumra Rajputs drove away the Arabs. Very soon after the Ummaiyide Khalifs, and after the expulsion of the Arabs in 750, Sind was chiefly ruled by Sumra Rajputs. Anyhow, one thing is clear, the power did not go out of the hands of the Hindu rajas. How and at what period the Sumra and Samma Rajputs took ot Islam cannot be determined, but it is a fact that many did. Even now the population of Sind cantains more than seven lacs of Sammas and about a lac of Sumras. The Sumras made Tatta their capital. The mad King of Delhi, Mahomed Tughlac, made an effort to oust the Sumras from their capital at Delhi. His nephew, Feroz Taghlac, was successful for a time; he raised fortifications at Lake Sagrah, appointed a Viceroy at Bukkur and then went back to Delhi. Soon after this, the Sammas, the other Rajput tribe, took the reins of governmnent into their hands and organised their forces so well that they were able to defy Delhi. Arter Tamerlane, the Moguls had well nigh destroyed the power of Delhi. These Sammas who had been converts to Islam ruled well and efficiently. The Sammma rulers took the title of fam, as did also the convert rulers of Cutch. Many are the stories given of Jams, specially those of jam Tamachi who married a fisherman’s daughter, of the handsome and pious Jam Sanjar, and of Jam Nando, founder and maker of the glory of Tatta, who ruled for fifty years. It is stated that as many as seventeen Jams succeeded each other; of whom were bad rulers, others good.
THE KAZI OF BUKKUR
A story is given about the Kazi of Bukkur who was a judge in the days of Jam Sanjar. This Kazi had a peculiar way of his own, he took bribes not from one party but from both. Jam Sanjar having received complaints sent for him personally and took him to task. The Kazi, although dishonest in his duties, was honest enough to confess. he said, “Yes, I do take bribes. If I could, I would extract money from the witnesses leave the premises before the court closes.” The pious Jam could not help laughing. The Kazi continued : “Sire, with all this sin, and with all the hard work of the day, I am not able to keep hunger out of my house, and my wife and children suffer.” The Jam took a lesson from this and raised the salaries of his servants. The present British rulers of India ought also to take a lesson from Jam Sanjar. Their lower subordinates often receive too little salary and obviously interpret this as an inducement to take to irregular means of increasing it. The Sumras and the Sammas ruled for two centuries. Their territory extended from the sea coast far into the boundaries of hte Punjab. Tatta, their capital, which was a huge city, is not now an important town in Sind, but its vast ruins stretch out for many, many miles, and its Makli Hill still presents many an object of interest and study.
History repeated itself and luxury corroded the foundations of prosperity. The immorality and laxity of the last kings weakened their strenght; and like Dahar of old, Feroz the son of the great Jam Nando, having neglected his duties for worldly pleasures, lost his kingdom and seriously disgraced himself. But so it was destined to to!
FEROZ THE COWARD
By this time Babar had invaded India and had established himself on the throne of Delhi. Babar’s power lay in Afghanistan, its neighbouring countries and India. The Ruler of Kandahar by name Shahbeg Arghun belonged to the House of Halaku, grandson of Ghengez Khan. Shahbeg began to get jealous and nervous of the growing power of Babar in India. he frlt his own position insecure and therefore wanted to establish a new kingdom for himself in India. Sind was the nearest and most handy for his purpose, so he resolved to try his luck. This was in the days of Jam Nando. Shahbeg sent an army to ivade Sind; but Darya Khan, the great General of nando, beat it back. Soon afterwards Nando died and his effeminate and foolish son, Feroz, came to the throne. He disregarded the advice and guidance of Darya Khan and began to have in his service the Mogul subjects of Shahbeg Arghun, who was surreptitiously working for access into Sind again. Feroz gave land to these Moguls for colonising; the site of the colony still exists, and goes by the name of Mogulwara. Babar had, after establishing himself in India, gone to end taken Kandahar; then Shahbeg Arghun found himself deprived of his old kingdom and his vision of a new one still unfulfilled. But his emissaries in Sind were busy creating opportunities for him, which was very easy in the days of Feroz whose folly had brought about division and disintegration. Shahbeg attacked Sind again, the brave Darya Khan was killed, and the Sammas defeated. The cowardly Feroz had remained hidden in his harem at Tatta. He now fled; and left Tatta to the tender mercies of the invaders, who continued their sack till Shahbeg, after many entreaties from the Sayeds of Sind, descendants of the Prophet and priests of Islam, stayed his hand. The despicable Jam presented himself with a sword tied to his neck in utter submission before Shahbag. This is how he made his penance before Shahbeg, who took pity on him and left him with some territory to rule over. Shahbeg then directed his attention to the extending of his territories. He conquered the Baluch tribes, destroyed about forty-two villages of the Baluchis, and then thought of invading Gujerat, so that the strong arm of Babar might not reach him easily; but death frustrated his ambitions.
After the death of Shahbeg, his son Mirza Shah Hussain came to the throne of Sind. This son had separated from his father in anger, while still in Kandahar, and had gone to Babar in Delhi. He remained in his court, and Babar treated him so well that, when he was called to reign over Sind after his father’s death, he refused to declare himself an independent Ruler, but ruled in the name of Babar, and said that as Babar was the head of the Moguls and a descendant of Tamerlane, he was satisfied to be his subordinate. Thus Sind was again linked to the throne of Delhi. Feroz, the weakling, after the death of Shahbeg bestirred himself; but he was defeated by the Mirza. Feroz fled to Cutch, received help from the Roi of Cutch, and returned with an army of 50,000 men. The unfortunate man however did not succeed. A tragic story is told, that when the army of Feroz found victory hopeless, his men took off their turbans, tied them all end to end and bound themselves together with this one long rope, desiring to die together. It is said 20,000 of them perished thus. The Mirza now began to rule in the proper sense of the word. He extended the frontiers of Sind as far as Multan, conquered that place, and gave it as a present to Babar. He also attacked Cutch, anticipating an attack from that direction on Tatta; he obtained great booty.
THE FATHER OF AKBAR
We now come to a very interesting period in the history of India as well as of Sind, when Humayun was driven out by Sher Khan. The unfortunate Humayun took shelter in Lahore with his brother who was ruling there, but not feeling himself safe he ultimately thought of Sind. Humayun wrote a letter to the Mirza of Sind, touching upon the cordial connections that had existed between his father and the Mirza. The Mirza was a diplomat. He invited Humayun to his kingdom. He knew that, if he refused, Humayun with his remaining forces would attack Sind. He sent his people to receive the King royally at Bukkur (near Rohri), with a respectful message that the mirza would be willing to help him with an army to attack Gujerat. The aim of the Mirza was to get rid of Humayun, as naturally he thought that two lions in the same forest would not do ! Poor Humayun remained at Rohri expecting the Mirza to come in person as he had so stated in his message, but the Mirza never came. He treated Humayun Shabbily. By his instructions the Governor of Bukkur had shut himself up in the
fortress and had ordered all the boats to be removed from the river Indus, on the opposite banks of which Rohri and Sukkur are situated. He also laid waste the neighbouring part of the country.
Humayun had come with two lacs of followers – countries, soldiers and retinue; and thus found himself in an absurd and awkward situation ! The Governor of Bukkur by these tactics calculated the early departure of Humayun after growing utterly weary. Humayun waited for five months, then getting impatient and angry, he attacked Sehwan, but the wily Mirza had anticipated this and Humayun found before him the fortress of Sehwan well prepared. He laid siege to it for seven months but was not successful. The miserable King, in grief and despair, contemplated going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. For a time his despair was relieved by a letter he received from Raja Maldeo of Jodhpur, inviting him to his capital with a promise to help with 20,000 soldiers. Humayun turned towards Rajputana; but while at Bikanir the unhappy Monarch learnt from reliable sources that the Raja of Jodhpur was preparing a trap for him, being in league with his enemy, Sher Khan. Humayun’s position can be better imagined than described. His followers were decreasing in numbers; his mercenaries were dropping away gradually, as lack of funds increased. Many died of thirst in the sands of Rajputana and the King on account of his poverty began to lose control over them. The few men that at last remained showed disrespect to him. Sometimes the King had no horse to ride upon, as he gave the only one he had to his wife and himself walked on foot, while his nobles remained in their saddles without any shame. Such was the plight of the parents to be of Akbar the Great.
AKBAR, THE GREATEST SINDHI
Humayun thus wandered about with his wife after his retreat from Bikanir. The Queen was an expectant mother at this time. The poor King knew not what to do; he reached Umerkot, the capital of Thar Parkar district in Sind, with seven attendants only. This place was in the hands of the Soddhas, a Rajput tribe that had not been converted to Islam. Rana Wan Sal was the Ruler of the frontier fort in Umerkot. What moved the heart of this Rajput Rana ? In spite of the enmity borne to Humayun by the Chief Ruler of Sind, this Hindu Rana gave up all selfish considerations on knowing the circumstances of the poor King and his wife. Perhaps it was the Devas who moved men’s minds- the Devas who knew that a great son of India was soon to be born. The Rana came out of his palace, welcomeed Humayun in a truly touching fashion, kissed his stirrup and gave the castle to the King for his use. On the 14th of October, 1542, Akbar was born in Umerkot. The paternal care which the Hindu Rana took of the Muslim King was itself an indication of the coming national umity in India; the sense of unity was thus ingrained in Akbar from his very birth.
THE SPIRIT OF UNION
The coming of this son gladdened the sad hearts of his father and mother. The King had no riches to distribute in honour of the birth; but he had with him a little pod of musk, which he broke and distributed among his attendants, with the prayer that the fame of this new-born babe might spread far and wide as the fragrance of the musk. And that prayer did rise to the Throne of the Almighty and draw forth a full response. In Tatta at this time lived a holy saint, Sayed Ali Shirazi. This holy man had his own vision of the coming of the great soul of the mighty Akbar. He brought gifts to Humayun welcoming him on his own behalf and on behalf of his followers. Humayun had the child’s first shirt made out of the clothes of the pious Sayed thus enwrapping him in the garments of piety. Humayun soon left Umerkot and went to live in Junpur, a place situated on the river and known for its beautiful gardens and cool streams. The town is now not in existence; perhaps it was in the Gunni Taluka, Hyderabad District, as there is still a place called Jun there, and possibly some small river like the present Phuleli (flower stream) than flowed by the side of Junpur. If it was so, then the place must have been really idyllic, as even now the scenery by the Phuleli in Gunni is really charming. Mirza Hussain, the King of Sind, did not desire that Humayun should stay in the land, and therefore friction and conflict continued; but Bairam, the loyal henchman of Babar and afterwards the regent for young Akbar, brought about peace between the two monarchs. The Mirza, whose one anxiety was to get Humayun out of Sind, agreed to give Humayun 300 horses, 300 camels and one lac of gold miskals. Humayun thus departed to Kandahar which was part of his kingdom.
MASSACRE BY THE PORTUGUESE
We now come to the time when the nations of the West were coming to India like so many wasps to suck and to sting. In the year A.D. 1555 the Portuguese were growing powerful, as division and disunion increased among the Indians. Sind was suffering intensely from this disharmony. After the death of the powerful Mirza Hussain, there was bitter conflict between the various claimants. One of these, Mirza Tarkhan, hearing of the strenght of the Portuguese, sent his ambassador to the Governor of Bassein, asking for military aid to resist what he called the rebellion of his opponent. The Governor sent one Pedro Rolim with a fleet of twenty-eight ships and 700 men. The Portuguese duly arrived at Tatta. The Mirza was absent. When he heard of the arrival of the Portuguese, he sent word that he had made peace with his opponent, and was therefore not in need of the help of the Portuguese. He is said to have also refused to defray the expenses of the Portuguese expedition. Pedro flew into a rage, sacked the city of Tatta, killed 800 people, destroyed property worth two million miskals and departed with such an amount of booty as no other looter of Asia had ever carried away with him.
A WRETCH OF A KING
Sind was at this time in the worst of conditions, especially in the days of the last of the Mirzas, Mahomed Baki, who is depicted by historians as a villain and a wretch, a heartless monster, who tortured people, cut off the breasts of women, had his victims trampled under the feet of elephants, and massacred travellers lest they should defame him in other countries. Akbar the Great was the Ruler of Delhi. This wretch, Mahomed Baki, Knew of the immense power of Akbar, and in order to gain his favour he sent his daughter to the Emperor with a valuable dowry, but Akbar returned the girl to the disgraceful father, whose black soul must have been scorched at this rebuff. He ultimately sought death by suicide and was buried on the Makli Hill at Tatta.
Akbar now took possession of Sind, appointed another Mirza as Governor and things went on well. The two great lights in the Durbar of Akbar, Abu’l Fazl and Mulla Faizi, are said to have been Sindhis, residents of Sehwan, proofs of which are not lacking. The great humourist of Akbar’s court, Birbal, is said to have been a Sindhi, born near Nassarpur. Sind bore a creditable part in those days of India’s greatness; it gave not only the two geat men that were real makers of Akbar’s glory, but it also gave birth to Akbar and cradled and nursed him. After the reign of Akbar and of Jehangir dissensions broke out in the Mogul Royal House. This had its effects on Sind too, which again brcame a disorganised province. Shahjehan, the son of Jehangir, took shelter in Tatta after his quarrel with his father; and afterwards, when he became Emperor, he built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Tatta in memory of the hospitality he had received in Sind. This Masjid still exists.
THE FAQIR DYNASTY
Sind again became a battle-ground of many fights and quarrels between many rulers. It came for a time under the rule of the Kalhoras who were the descendants of a great faqir, Ahmed Shah, whose piety had gained for him a great name. The members of the Faqir Dynasty were rulers, spiritual as well as temporal. They were also called Daudpotas, that is belonging to the family of Daud, which flourished in Sind, Daud is supposed to have attained to the age of two hundred years.
THE COMING OF NADIR SHAH (1739)
Another terrible event occurred in the days of Nur Mahomed Kalhora. It was the monstrous attack of Nadir Shah who after looting Northern India marched to Sind; and one morning King Nur Mahomed found Nadir Shah at the gate of Umerkot. Be it said to his credit that the proud Kalhora fought with Nadir Shah, who was, however, too powerful for him and made him prisoner at Larkana, and after exacting from him a crore of rupees and a promise of tribute, left him to rle. The cruel Nadir took away two of the sons of Nur Mahomed as hostages, but was humane enough to compensate the aggrieved father by bestowing on him the title of Shah Kuli Khan. Nadir Shah returned from Larkana to Kandahar, as Larkana is a frontier town between Sind and the hills, on the way to Afghanistan.
After the eventual murder of Nadir Shah, Nur Mahomed tried to make himself independent of Kandahar. Ahmed Shah Abdali who succeeded Nadir Shah bestowed another title on Nur Mahomed; but Nur Mahomed took steps to free himself of his control. This enraged Ahmed Shah, who in one of his invasions of India came to Sind to chastise Nur Mahomed. Unfortunately for Nur Mahomed, and Sind the Kalhoras who were also a branch of the Daudpotas did not remain in amity with the other Daudpota branch, which ruled the north of Sind and built the famous city of Shikarpur which is also one of the frontier towns. The Afghans first attacked the north of Sind; the brave Daudpotas of Shikarpur made a splendid stand, but finding it hopeless they killed their women and threw their bodies into the wells, then fought desperately till they were well nigh annihilated. Those that remained escaped towards Multan and built another city known as Bahawalpur. The Afghans under Abdali, consequently found it easier to subdue Nur Mahomed.
DIWAN GIDUMAL (1754)
Nur Mahomed was now nervous as he had aroused the wrath of Abdali, but he had a very wise Vazir by name Diwan Gidumal. Diwan Gidumal was a Hindu of great political skill and learning . The Muslim rulers of Sind and their nobles did not take kindly to ducation, and the tradition of the old Scythian illiteracy seems to have still persisted among them. The pleasures of the hunting- ground, and the harem, were much more congenial to their nature than plodding at letters. True, there was a class of Muslims, very much cultured; but many of them were Sufis, radical and heterodox, and therefore chiefly in condlict with the orthodox priests and their heads, the Kalhora kings. I shall deal with these Sufies at full length in the second part of this book, but here it is necessary to note how Hindus became the ministers of Muslim rulers in Sind. Diwan Gidumal was a great Amil. The word Amil means an educated man as well as an official. The Amils of Sind are a class by themselves. Some of them are said to have migrated into Sind from Punjab; they made their homes first in Khudabad, and afterwards most of them came to Hyderabad, Sind, which in the days of Nur Mahomed was one of the capitals. It was known formerly as Nerun, an important place at the time of Alexander’s invasion. These Amils are at present perhaps the most cultured of Sindhis, their chief habitat being Hyderabad. Diwan Gidumal was one of thier ancestors. Nur Mahomed consulted Diwan Gidumal as to how to appease the anger of Ahmedshah Abdali, who was camping at Naushahro Feroz, a town futher north of Hyderabad. Diwan Gidumal came in person to Ahmedshah who was struck by his personality and the intellectual power of his face. The Diwan is said to have placated Abdali in this way. It is said that the Diwan had with him two bags which he had brought with other gifts for Abdali. Abdali enquired what these bags contained. “Your Majesty,” said the diplomatic Diwan, “these bags contain the most valuable of Sind’s gifts, they contain the holy dust from the tombs of numberous saints and Pirs of Sind.”
The Muslims have always had reverence for the ancient saints of Sind, as the earliest great followers of the Prophet of Islam first came to Sind. Ahmedshah was for a time pacified by Diwan Gidumal, but it seems Nur Mahomed, by the good offices of Diwan Gidumal, Abdali agreed that Murad Tarkhan, the son of Nur Mahomed, should continue as ruler. The King of Kandahar was very exacting in his demands. He soon deposed Nurad and instated Aturkhan, his brother, who had been taken to Kandahar as a hostage by Nadir Shah. Aturkhan was now sent to rule Sind, beacause the King of Kandahar expected Aturkhan to collect more and more tribute. The people grew poorer and poorer and altogether had to pass through a great amount of misery. Very soon the rule of the Kalhoras was changed to the rule of the Talpurs who were originally the ministers of the Kalhoras, but who were afterwards more or less compelled to take the reins of Government into their own hands as the last Kalhora rulers were thoroughly unfit to rule.
We now come to the last period of the history of Sind before the arrival of the English. But before taking up that story it is necessary to note that these Talpurs failed to rule properly. The Afghans had occupied the North of Sind, Shikarpur, etc., and the Talpurs had begun to attack the Hindu rulers of Sind in Thar. The Hindu Rajput rulers, of the Soddha caste, had been ruling amicably and well, and during the reign of Akbar had cultivated friendly relations with Mussalman rulers. They even inter-married with them, a custom which has been in existence to some extent up to the present time among the Soddhas. Some of the Talpur rulers were tyrannical in their treatment of the Hindus, and their relations with the Hindus grew bitter. They were more or less ignorant; and had it not been for the Amils, who helped them in their Government, their rule would have been even more stupid. It was this misrule and especially their ill-treatment of the Hindus, that lost them Sind and made it possible for the British to annex it. When the stupidity of the Talpurs coupled itself with religious bigotry, the tyranny became will nigh intolerable. So much so that old people have been heard to declare that if a man said raso,which means a rope, it would be taken for granted that he had said Rasul which means “the Prophet” and thus be said to have embraced Islam. It may be that some of these stories are exaggerations. Evidence is not lacking that they treated the Hindu Amil with some respect. That was because the Amil was indispensable to them, but other Hindus, as well as poor Muslim peasants, were their victims. Men of the present generation have heard from old Amil relatives who had seen the Talpur rule, about the terror which hung over them, especially the women, who were never considered safe outside and therefore were kept rigidly indoors; thus the social life of the Hindus of Sind received a deadly injury, as the women had to be kept in the purdah, devoid of education. One must not conclude that all the Talpurs and their chief nobles were of this kind; some of them must have been estimable person; but the general impression of the people at the present moment still remains the same.
They tyranny over the people in the villages of Sind was such that even now in the terror of the word Sirkar it is apparent. They were not only the victims of the chief rulers but also of their servants, both Hindu Amils and Muslims. This tradition of tyranny has descended to the present police and revenue servants of the British Government; but that is a tale that need not be anticipated here. There was no one ruler of Sind, but there were dozens of rulers. The Talpurs had divided Sind into three divisions, each division under a separate Talpur. But even these divisions had more than one ruler. A good instance is Hyderabad, which was under as many as four Talpur brothers who were so suspicious of each other that they slept in one room, lest any of them should conspire against the other in the night. How could a house thus divided resist an encroacher with the capacity of the Britisher?
THE STORY OF THE BRITISHER
It was in the days of Kalhora Ghulam Shah that the East India Company established itself in Tatta in the year 1758. Long before this, the Englishman had acquired power in India and was then establishing himself as the chief master of the country. Sind was one of the Company’s last conquests. It is said that Ghulam Shah, the Ruler of Sind, permitted the Company to establish itself at Tatta, which was one of the most magnificent centres of trade and prosperity in India. The English Lieutenant, later known as Sir, Henry Pottinger visited Tatta in the year 1809, and he wrote after his visit, “Even so recently as the period of Nadir Shah’s visiting Tatta on his return from Delhi, it is said there were 40,000 weavers of calico and loongis in that city, and artisans of every other class and description to the number of 20,000 not inclusive of bankers, money-changers, shop-keepers and sellers of grain, who were estimated at 60,000 more, whereas the aggregate population of it, at the present moment, is overrated at 20,000 souls”.
Nadir Shah came in the year 1739. Nadir Shah did not sack Tatta, he did not even go there. After he left Sind, Tatta continued to be so prosperous that it attracted the attention of the ever-watchful East India Company which is said to have received permission to establish itself there in the year 1758. What is the population of Tatta now ? Not even 20,000, which figure Sir Henry Pottinger gaven in 1809, but only 10,000 or less. This ruin was accomplished by the misrule of the later rulers, Kalhora and Talpur, and also by the machinations of the Honourable Company, which by this time had ruined the general trade of India, more or less completely. I do not think that Ghulam Shah the Kalhora was glad to see the Company in Tatta, as seems to be made out by the official English historians. The latest chronicler of the “Sind Gazetteer” says : “It was in the time of Ghulam Shah, and perhaps on his invitation, that the East India Company established a factory in India.” The word `perhaps’ cuts both ways. It is certain that this entry of the Company into Sind was resisted and detested by the people. The Company did its nefarious work for seventeen years, but after this period the resistance became so intense that the Company’s factory at Tatta had to close down. Sarfraz, the then Kalhora, was a wise man who could see the ruin that the Company was bringing to the swadeshi industry and it was he who made the Company move out.
But soon after the Kalhoras had given place to the Talpurs and in the year 1799, that is, twenty-four years after the closure of the factory, the British Government sent a deputation under one Mr. Nathan Crow to Sind calling him their political and commercial agent. By this time the British influence was very strong, and the so-called deputation imposed itself on the Talpur Ruler; and Mr. Crow exacted from him permission to build for himself a `nest’ at Karachi. Karachi was not then an important place, though its position as a harbour and a port is now second to none in the East. Its geographical situation is such that it is now making its way and possibly will soon be the “Queen of the East”. But Karachi at the time of Mr. Crow was just in its embryonic state and the keensighted Britisher knew this, when his Government sent him as a commercial and political agent. That the permission to Mr. Crow to build his bunglow at Karachi was an unwilling exaction from the Talpurs is proved by the fact that mr. Crow had to spread his wings and fly back to Bombay within ten days. The Company began to roa and laid a claim for a lac of rupees, as the amount of the loss supposed to have been incurred in this greedy campaign called the “sending of a deputation”. The company pressed its claim for the precious lac of rupees. The Talpur Ruler, Mir Fateh Ali Khan, could not recognise the justice of paying this bill. Little did the poor Mir realise, that the sending of Mr. Crow was merely a preliminary to the despatch of more birds prey to Sind. For a while the Company became quiet and waived its claim as it had begun to feel nervous; for the rumour of Napoleon Bonaparte’s designs on India had reached them, and already the long arm of Napoleon from Europe was threatening complications for the British in Persia. But as soon as this danger was over, the company sahib, called this time the Supreme Government, began to insist upon a settlement, and sent Mr. Smith of the Bombay Civil Service to forge fetters for Sind. This time it was not called a deputation by the demand to negotiate a fresh treaty. But why in the name of honesty and common sense was Sind expected to have a treaty ? Justice echoes still `Why?’
HIS ENGLISH MAJESTY’S HORSES
Lieutenant Pottinger reached Karachi and wanted to proceed to Hyderabad in order to negotiate a treaty with the Talpurs. By the right of might, the Mirs were compelled to negotiate with the British, the conditions of the treaty being that Americans and all Europeans, except the British, should be excluded from Sind; that the British and the Talpur Governments should appoint Vakils who would be links between these Governments; and that the subjects of both Governments should live in each other’s territory. The sole purpose of the British Government was to pave the way for its entry into Sind. Another opportunity soon occurred. His Majesty the King of England sent a gift of five horses to Ranjitsing, the lion of Punjab, whose favour the English were seeking at this time. His Majesty’s horses duly arrived at Bombay. The Bombay Government thought it absolutely necessary to send these horses to Ranjitsing at Lahore, via Sind and by the river route. Lieutenant Burns (afterwards Sir Alexander Burns) took his boats up the river Indus. The Mirs indirectly tried to obstruct him, but the irresistible Britisher had his way. The Mirs knew that any open defiance would mean providing the Bombay Government with an excuse to annex Sind; therefore, when Lieutenant Burns reached Hyderabad, the capital of Sind, the Mirs had to eat humble pie and provide facilities for the Lieutenant to sail up the river. The nobles standing by the side of the Mirs looked on this unjustifiable encroachment upon their rights with the greatest bitterness, for they knew that the pretext of sending His Majesty’s horses was only meant as an excus for the English to explore the river Indus, and study it for future use. One Sayed, who was at the Court when this permission was granted to Lieutenant Burns, sadly said : “Woe be to us, Sind is now lost.” And so it was to be.
A SANCTIMONIOUS TREATY
After a short time the Mirs were compelled to participate in another ceremony of negotiating a treaty. The chief clauses in the pious document were to this effect: The first and foremost laid down for either Government the holy restriction of not conveting the possessions of the other, this restriction to bind all the succeeding generations. The third and perhaps the only mundane item of the sacred treaty was that the river Indus was to be opened for trade to all the merchants of Hindustan (of course including the English merchant but no other European merchant). The treaty also made it clear that no military stores should pass up and down the river, nor armed vessels be allowed to enter the Indus. Let us now see how devoutly this holy treaty was adhered to by the Englishman. Sind had been for a time legally and morally independent of the control of both Delhi and Kandahar. The King of Kandahar, Shah Shuja, had made a solemn treaty with the Talpurs, writing the conditions of the treaty on the Holy Koran, by which he relinquished all claims on Sind. The Russian bogey was raising its head, and the British were nervous. Lord Auckland, the Governor-General of India, soon carried his wars into Afghanistan. Sind stood in the way. The British armies had to march to Kabul through Sind. But the ghost of their own treaty now haunted the British Government, as the Indus was not to be used for any military purposes. But this scrap of paper was unceremoniously torn into pieces, and Lord Auckland made Sind the basis of his war on Afghanistan. This was the last straw that broke the Sind camel’s back; and the angry Mirs found no way but to oppose. But what was this opposition to the all-powerful English ! The fight that the Talpurs showed makes a sad as well as an interesting story. They were both unfortunate and foolish; their house was already a divided one; they had split Sind into many parts; they had not kept their Hindu subject happy. All these cercumstances made it easy for them to disappear as rulers. Some of them were sent as prisoners to Poona, others to Bombay and the rest to Calcutta. To-day, about eighty years after, many of the Talpurs roam in rags. Thus ends the sordid story of the conquest of Sind. Sir Charles Napier who conquered it himself saw the immorality of the deed and is said to have wired La Peka ” I have `sinned'”; by this he meant to say that he had taken Sind as well as had “sinned”. He further wrote to say “we have no right to seine Sind, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, humane, and useful piece of rascality it will be”. When the story of this ruthless and immoral campaign reached England, many fair-minded Englishmen cried out in horror; but then it was too late. Gladstone is said to have considered returning Sind, but it was not to be. Perhaps all is for the best ! The English in Sind seem to have kept many of the features of the Talpur rule intact. The people are still mostly illiterate. After more than three quarters of a century of British rule only two per cent among the Muslims know how to read and write; and something over seven per cent of seven lacs of Hindus know the use of the alphabet. The condition of the poor peasant is deplorable. More so because the Sind zemindar is generally a tyrant living up to the traditions of the Talpurs with the added vigour and rigour he derives from the British code. Of course there has been compensation in other matters. The city roads are some what better than they used to be in the past, but the country roads are the remnants of roads as they were a century ago. In the cities education has spread, especially among the Hindus. Karachi has grown to be the chief centre of commerce but little of industry is anywhere visible, though the docks are busy sending things out. Tatta is only a memory. Halla, once renowned for pottery and weaving, is just a shadow of the past. The Police force of Sind has immortalised itself in the twentieth century, having perhaps no prototype in India, or in the world. But these are details into which it is not desirable to enter; so with the prayer that the coming longed-for dawn in India will again soon illuminate the gloom that has hung over our beloved Sind, let us pass to the happier portion of this book dealing with the Light, that makes life possible even in th e gloom, of the Holy Fire by which all disharmonies are destroyed and all racial and national bitterness banished.