HISTORY
This section considers Important events within Anglo-Sikh history such as early European accounts of Sikhs, the role ofSikhs in the armed forces and pre British Raj accounts.


 
 


A Memorandum On The Panjab And Kandahar

from Mr (John) Griffiths to Alexander Adamson
dated Surat, 17th February, 1794.


containing information respecting
(i) the Characters of the Inhabitants on the Banks of the Indus
(ii) Dominions of the Seecks
(iii) Kandahar of the Dominion of the Durranies

INTRODUCTORY NOTE
The memorandum of Mr John Griffiths written in the form of a letter to Mr Alexander Adamson from Surat on February 17, 1794, gives us a fair idea of the Panjab (including Multan) and Kandahar of those days.' The former then formed the dominion of the Sikhs and the latter of the Durranis.

The writer of the Memorandum, John Griffiths, was for some time Resident at Basra factory in Iraq and then the chief of the Surat Factory in India. It was during his time at Surat that he wrote this letter to Alexander Adamson at Bombay giving him information respecting the characters of the inhabitants on the banks of the Indus, including those of Multan, and of the dominion of the Sikhs in the Panjab and of the Durranisin south-eastern Afghanistan. The East India Company was then concerned more with commerce than politics. It is, therefore, that the letter deals more with geographical and commercial information and refers to the characters of the people only as far as they concerned a businessman. Mr. Griffiths acted as governor of Bombay for about four months from September 3 to December 27, 1795.

Alexander Adamson, to whom the letter is addressed, is mentioned in the Index to the Press Lists of Public Department Records, 1748-1800, as Assistant to Treasurer, Bombay, and Transfer Master, Bombay.

Dr Ganda Singh
Patiala,
September 29, 1961.


1 - Characters Of The Inhabitants On The Banks Of The Indus
The River Sind or Indus is well known to be formed by the confluence of ten subordinate Streams, issuing chiefly from among the Mountains of the greater and lesser Tibet. It traverses a Tract of Country, near six hundred and fifty British Miles in direct length, from the Station of Attok, to it's disemboguement in the Arabian Sea.

The Manners and Disposition of the People, who occupy its Banks, are perhaps as various as the face of the Country, which they inhabit. The slightest information on the subject of it's present Political and Commercial State hitherto, in general but, obscurely known, may be considered not entirely unworthy of Attention.

This is the object of the following Notes.

Unfortunately, the only light we are enabled to throw upon the Business, is derived principally from the verbal relation of Natives, who, from the habit of observing but! superficially, things that do not interest them, are sometimes faithful, but seldom accurate I in their representations; In one point of view, however, we may venture to give implicit credit to the following circumstances, namely, so far as they relate to Commercial Produce.

Sind, or Sindh
The Province of Sind, comprehending the Delta of the Indus called Tattah, extends along the Sea Coast, from the Confines of Kutch, to the Western Branch of the Sind about 170 Miles, and along that River towards Multan; to Behkker,1 about 300 Miles. It is at present a Government tributary to Salem Shah, the Son and Successor of Timmur Shah Durrani, King of Kandahar and Kabul, who died about the middle of 1792; Futtah Ally the Surdaar of the Province, and who has held possession near 20 years, resides at Nagure Tattah, in the general defalcation of the Empire of Dehly, he wrested it from Gulaam Shah, the Moghul's Subahdar; But a report is now prevailing that a force is advancing from Kandahar to remove him, and establish a Relation of Gulaam Shah's in his Room.

The Subjects of this Chief are composed of various casts, Mahomedans and Hindoos; Of the latter, are Brahmins, Katries, Banians, Jaats, and Koolis. The Jaats are said to observe some institutions similar to the Seiks, wear their Hair and Beards in the same manner, and are part of the same People, who under Swrudge Mul,2 &c., formerly possessed many of the Countries in the North of India, now in the hands of Scindia and the Mahrattas. Of the Mahomedans, are both Moghuls and Belouhtries3 These last are that race of Men, commonly known in the middle parts of Hindostan by the name of Sindians; of much estimation in the Indian Armies, warlike, but untractably


FOOTNOTE

1

Bhakkar, headquarters of a subdivision and a tahsil of the same name in the district of Mianwali, Panjab, Pakistan

2

Sooraj Mall (died in 1763), son of Thakur Badan Singh, founder or the ruling house of Bharatpur.
3
Beluchis or Baloch, people of Baluchistan

averse to discipline; They were also formerly were known on the Coast of Mekraan, or rather Laar; to the former, their Country is contiguous, for their thievish, inhospitable, and treacherous disposition to the Voyagers who touched upon, that Coast.

The principal places in the Country are as follows; Nagur Tattah, the Capital Heiderabad; Sind an open Town 70 Coss above Tattah; Rhodabad Purana or the old Rodabad Rhodabad nawa, or the new; Rambunder, Shahabad, Ammerkote, probably that marked in the Map, in the Desert of Kutch, Mittankote, Karaly, Bunder, Aomarkote, Hujraat, Shaherabad, and Behkker. This last was formerly a place of some streugth and importance, and the Capital of considerable Territory, but is now like most others in this unhappy Country, falling to ruins; the Historian of the first ten years of the Reign of Aurungzebe, mentions the Fort of Bhakur, as a place of strength, into which the accomplished but unfortunate Dara Shegoh4 threw some of his Women and Treasure, in his distressful flight towards Kutch. Below this Place about 25 Coss, the same Historian says, there is a Road leading towards Kandahar, which the afflicted Prince was inclined to follow, and which probably would have rescued him from the fate, with which he afterwards met, but the entreaties of his Women, terrified with the idea of the difficulties they expected to encounter on that Road, and the fortune of his crafty and victorious Brother prevailing, he continued his Flight down the Indus.

The Country is described at that time to have been for the most part Jungul, or Forest on both Sides the River from Bhakur to Suvestaan, another Port about half way between Bhakur and the Forks of the Indus, which obliged Aurungzebe's Generals to relinquish the pursuit; There exists but little reason to suppose that the Country is much improved since that period.

The Manufactures of the Country are all sorts of white and coloured Piece Goods. Here also are bred, excellent Horses for Cavalry, Camels, and Horned Cattle in abundance; the Soil produces Grain of Sorts, Cotton, Indigo, Sugar, Saltpetre, Hing or Assafatida, with fruits of various kinds.

The prevailing Color of Apparel of the Inhabitants is Black or rather dark Black. They receive in importation from Gujraat &ca. Silk, Nutmegs, Cloves, Mace, Amber, Copper, Oil, Teakwood, planks &c.
The Surdaar maintains, it is said, a considerable Body of Horse and foot, but of the Revenue, by which he is enabled to support them, no probable estimate can be formed.

At Strikaarpoor5 opposite to Behkker, commences a Track of Country Adjacent to both sides of the River in the hands of the Dadoopootra6-a people who form a lawless Banditti, principally Faquiers, have of late years established themselves into a permanent Government, under their Chieftain Bhavel Khawn7; Some distance above Behkker, and reckoned midway between Multan and Tattah, is their Capital Bhavilpoor8 ;


FOOTNOTE
4
Dara Shikoh (1615-1659), son of Emperor Shah Jahan and a brother of Aurungzeb
5
Shikarrpur
6
Daoodpotra
7
Bahawal Khan
8
Bahawapus

At this place, the Kabul Merchants are permitted to pass their Horses, and from hence they cross the Desert to Bukanur,9 about 70 Coss distance: At this place also, the Gagra, (queri, Kaggar) a River of considerable width a depth, empties itself into the, Indus. Strikaarpoor10 is a very considerable Mart for Horses: The Country altho' in rather a wild State, is represented to be extremely populous and full of Villages. The Dadoopootra11 acknowledge themselves tributary to Salem Shabo From the Character of these People, the communication between Multan and the Sea must prove exceedingly precarious, and sometimes totally impracticable, and perhaps this is the best reason that can be offered, why the Merchants in general from the South East of Persia, Cabul, &c., to refer to fatiguing and circuitous land Journey by Jaudpoor &c., in their way to the West of India, and relinquish the advantage of a noble River, navigable for Vessels of 20 and 50 Tons, nearly as high up as it's confluence with the Sutlooje.12 We have reason to conlude this Country the least explored by the English, of any in India.

Multan
Proceeding up the Indus from Bhavilpoor, we pass through the same difficult Country on both sides the River, and the Bone of Continual Contention between the Officers of Sulem Shah, the Dadoopootra, and the Seick,13 to Sidpoor,14 in the possession of the latter, about 40 Coss below the City of Multan.

The City of Multan with the principal part of the Peninsula of Outch, was taken from the Seick about 15 years ago by Timmur Shah the Durrani, to whose Son and Successor Salam Shah, it is still subject. It is estimated about 500 Coss from Dehly, and 250 from Lahore; It is situated about 3 Coss from the Chunnah or Chunnaab15 ; The Fort, garrisoned by Salem Shah's Patans, is said to be washed' by that River when flooded. The City is fatling fast to Ruins, inhabited by Mahommedans and Hindoos, and Seeck, which last it would appear are daily gaining ground in this part of-India.

The Manufactures are Piece Goods, white Cloths, and Chintz of all sorts. The adjacent Country produces various kinds of Grain, also Cotton and 1ndigo, and fruits, &c.

It receives by Importation, Pearl, Kincobs,16 Gold Thread, Elephants Teeth, Broad Cloths, Nutmegs, Cloves, Mace, Copper, Vermilion &c, and Drugs.

II. Dominions Of The Seecks

This extraordinary modern People is in possession of nearly the whole of the fertile Country of the Punjaab, with the Territory South Eastward of the Sutlooje12 as far as Karnaal the Scene of Nadir Shah's decisive Victory over the Armies of Mahommed Shah of Dehly, being in extent, from Attok to Karnaal, about 420 Miles, and from Rotass Gur (belonging to Salem Shah) to the Scene of their Contests with the Dadoo- pootra on the Indus, (excepting the Territory of Oucth) about 300 Miles.

Their Capital is the celebrated City of Lahore on the Raavee; Their principal Chiefs if they can be said to acknowledge any, are four, namely; Lena Sing, Goojer Sing, Diwan Sing, and Maha Sing.

FOOTNOTE
9
Bikaner
10
Ghanggar river, once an affluent of the Indus, is no longer a perennial stream and is lost in the sandy desert of Rajasthan near Hamumangarh (former Bhatner) in the Bikaner territory.
11
Jodhpur, formerly headquarters of a princely state of the same name Satluj or Sutlej, ancient Studri
12
Satluj or Sutlej, ancient Studri
13
Sikh spelt as Seick, Seek, Seeck, Seik, Sich, Sick, Sicque, Syc, etc
14
Sitpur (Seetpore), a small town in the Muzaffargarh district of the Punjab, Pakistan
15
Chenab
16
Kimkhab, kamkhab, embroidered cloth

Maha Sing. It may not perhaps be deemed amiss, to offer in this place, what circumstances we have been able to collect, relating to this eccentric Class of Mankind.

They are said to have received their Tenets from a Hindoo of the Kutru17 caste, of the name of Nanuk, a Fanatic in the reign of the Emperor Aurungzebe.18 This Man having long led the Life of an Ascetic,19 pretended to have received a divine revelation to the following effect;

"Baba Nanuk eici horon jeici Nunne doo"
that is nearly expressing,
"Nanuk, have the same Dependence on the
"Creator, as the tender blade of Grass,
"which receives its nourishment from the
"dew of heaven".

This he looked upon as an order to divest himself of obedience to all human Authority, and was consequently an object of long persecution to that Emperor, who had him confined in a strong Cage.20 This had the ordinary effect of persecution, tho increasing the number of his followers. The Seick, in the performance of the religious Ceremonies, always invoke the name of their Founder Baba Nanuk, whom they also call their Guru, and frequently reiterate the Word Bhalden.21 The Tenets of Nanuk have been collected into a Book, which they call their Ghiruntejee,22 and guard as a sacred Deposit, or rather Oracle, at a place called Amber Ser,23 two and twenty Coss in the Dehly side of Lahore; Here they assemble in great numbers (150, or 200,000 Men) at two fixed periods of the year, about October and April, to consult upon their Warlike Operations; The decisions of the Oracle, whether for War or Peace, they invariably adhere to. Their Book, they declare, contains a prediction that "The Europeans will one day be in possession of Dehly".24 This probably the Oracle, or rather the Interpreter of the Oracle, has suggested to keep suspicion awake.

FOOTNOTE
17
Khatri
18
Nanak (1469-1539), the Sikh Guru, founder of the Sikh religion, lived during the reign of the Lodhis and the early Mughals, Babur and Hamuyan, and not during the reign Aurangzeb (1658-1707)
19
Guru Nanak did not lead the life of an ascetic, nor does his religion, Sikhism preach or encourage asceticism. He was a married man and had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das.
20
It was the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur (1664-1675) who was imprisoned and executed by the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb
21
Not clear. The Sikhs generally repeat the words Sat-nam and Wahiguru.
22
Granth-ji, popularly known as Guru Granth Sahib
23
Amritsar
24
This prophecy is not contained in the holy book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib. It is ascribed to Guru Tegh Bahadur the ninth Guru, who is said to have told Emperor Aurangzeb in 1675 in answer to the charge of looking in the direction of the Imperial zenana: 'I was looking in the direction of the Europeans who are coming from beyond the seas to tear down thy pardas and destroy thine empire.' (Sikh Religion, preface, xviii.)
It has at times been said that this prophecy was the invention of some clever Englishman in 1857 to win over the Sikhs to the British side during the mutiny, when Bahadur Shah II, a descendant of Emperor Aurangzeb, was being raised to the throne of Hindusthan. But the prophecy has been referred to, though in a slightly different form, by Colonel A.L.H. Polier in his Account of the Sikhs, written in 1780 and read at a meeting of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (now the Asiatic Society, Calcutta) on December 20.1787. References to the prophecy by Polier in 17 0 and by Griffiths in 1794, eighty-seven and sixty-three years respectively before the Indian Mutiny, conclusively explode the theory of its invention by some Englishman in 1857.

The Seiks receive Proselytes of almost every Cast, a point in which they: differ most materially from the Hindoos. To initiate Mahommedans into their mysteries, the prepare a Dish of Hog's legs, which the Converts are obliged to partake of previous to admission. They have forbid absolutely the use of the Hookah, but they are as liberal in the use of Bang, and Ophiam, as their Neighbours. They are not prohibited the use of Animal food of any kind, excepting Beef, which they are rigidly scrupulous in abstaining from. They never shave either Head or Beard; They sometimes wear yellow, but the prevailing Colour of their Cloths is deep blue; They make their Turbans capaciously large, over which they frequently wear a piece of pliable Iron Chain or Network.

They are in general excellently mounted, and have a Body of thirty or forty thousand chosen Horse, always stationed along the Attok, to frustrate the Attempts of the Durranies or Abdallis, to whom they are inveterate Enemies, and by whom on two sides they are surrounded. The remainder of the Nation is dispersed all over their Dominions, without Order or Restraint. Their mode of making War is desultory, seldom attacking in large Bodies, and to sum up all we can at present learn concerning this strange people, they have the Character of being rather mild and benignant than otherwise, in their interior Government, and if it be true, what hath been confidently asserted, that the fundamental principle of their Religion is the Worship of the one Supreme God of the Universe, we may safely venture to give them credit for many of the good Qualities of Humanity.


FOOTNOTE
25
There never was any such practice followed by the Sikhs. The meat of a hogs, of course, not forbidden to the Sikhs. And, if at any time a dish of hog's legs was offered to a new convert, it should not be taken as a general practice among the Sikhs to force a convert to partake of it to regularize his admission to the Sikh brotherhood.
26
The use of bhang and opium is not religiously forbidden to the Sikhs but it is not encouraged. In fact. it is positively discouraged.

Their places of greatest consideration, after the Capital Lahore, are said to be as follows; Amberser, their place of Religious visitation as mentioned above; Kalanoor, Batala, among the Hills South East of Lahore; Sersamaana;27
Jwalajee;28 a place of pilgrimage of the Hindoos, 150 Coss ,from Dehly among the Hills, where there is a subterranean fire, and from which Aurungzebe thought to have procured Sulphur;
Shahdowla Gujraat, 40 Coss from Lahore, famous for a Manufacture of excellent Sword blades and Matchlock pieces;
Jalendurr;
Puttealah;
Pehooah;
Kwlehittur29 &c and
Karnaal, 40 Coss from Dehly,
They have a considerable Military Station at Attok, but it is said, unfortified.

The principal Manufactures of Lahore, are Kilmaans, a kind of coarse, or blanket Shawls, made of the Wool of the Tails of certain Sheep, -White Cloths fine and coarse, Piece Goods -The Punjaab produces, Grain of all sorts known in India, Cotton, Indigo, Jaggree and a variety of Fruits.
They receive in importion from Gujraat Pearl, Kincobs, 16 Gold thread, Cutnic, Elephants Teeth, Broad Cloths, Nutmegs, Cloves, Mace, Cardamums. Amber, Dry dates, Iron, Lead, Copper Vermilion, Coconuts, &ca and Drugs.

FOOTNOTE
27
Not clear. May be Samana to the south-west of Patiala.
28 Jwala-mukhi in the district or Kangra, Panjab, India.
29 Kurukshetra
30 Jammu

III. Kandahar or the Dominion of the Durranies
The left Bank of the Indus, coming from the Sea Coast, as high up as the parallel of Kashmeer, is almost entirely in the hands of Salem Shah Durrani. and the Chiefs tributary to him, and Eastward of the Attok he skirts the Seick Nation to some distance beyond the Territory of Jamboo30 so A reference to Major Rennels incomparable Map will afford a pretty clear idea of the importance of this Frontier, to whatever Power may be in possession of it.

This formidable Kingdom was founded about forty eight years ago by Ahmed Khawn, Abdalli, one of Nader Shah's principal Officers.
Mirza Mehadi relates in his History of Nader Shah, that in the confusion which followed the Murder of that Prince (Hiz. -1160) the Afghan and Oozbek Troops assembled together from the different Quarters of the Camp, under Ahmed Khawn, who from the warmth of his Attachment to the House of his deceased Master, determined to avenge his Death but being repulsed by the Assharians and consequently frustrated in his design.

he drew off the Afghans, and retreated to the Fortress of Kandahar, where embracing the opportunity offered by the troubles which afterwards desolated Persia, he assumed the Chuttur, or Ensign of Royalty, under the name of Ahmed Shah, well known from the dreadful overthrow he gave the united powers of the Mahratta Empire about 28 years ago, on the Plains of Paniput.31

He was succeeded about 3 years after that Battle by his Son Timmur Shah32 who assumed the Title of Durra-Durrani,33 or Pearl of the Durranies; the latter is the name by which he distinguished a Corps of Household Troops, which consisted originally of Abyssinian Slaves, raised by contribution among his Subjects, and probably constituted on the same principles with the Mamluki of Egypt. From an Ornament which they wore in their Ears, they received the Appellation of Durrani.34 They at first amounted to no more than two or three thousand, but latterly they were augmented to twelve and even twenty thousand Men, the Flower of the Shah's Armies, and particularly intrusted with the Guard of the Royal Person. Timmer Shah died about the middle of 1792.

A younger Brother was preparing to dispute the Sovereign Authority with Salem Shah, the present Monarch, but by the timely mediation of some of the Moghul Chieftains, the matter was prudently compromised, without having recourse to the Sword; Salem Shah was placed upon his Father's Throne, and his Brother was satisfied with the Government of Kabul, where he resides.

Salem Shah is in possession of Guezni, Kabul, Peishour, Kandahaar, and some Territories on the Persian Side, being a considerable part of the Dominions of the celebrated and victorious Mahmud Subuktegnim.35
On the South East Side of the Attok, he possesses the delicious and wealthy Province of Kashmeer, the paradise of India, and the only Country in the World where the universally admired Shawl is manufactured. This inimitable Article is, it is said, produced from the Fleece of an Animal cal1ed Bhera, or a Species of Sheep or Goat, subsisting on the Mountain Fruits peculiar to the Country. On that side also, he is Master of the rich Territory of Jamboo, described as nearly as inaccessible as Kashmeer; In this quarter he is also in possession of the important Fortress of Rotass Gur,36 with most of the strong holds on the Hilly Frontier of the Seicks, with whom he is in a state of perpetual Hostility. The Revenues he collects at this day from the two Provinces of Kashmeer and Jamboo only, amount, it is said, to two or three Million Sterling.



FOOTNOTE
31
The battle of Panipat was fought on January 14, 1761, thirty-three years before the date of this letter.
32
Timur Shah came to the throne of Afghanistan in 1772 after the death of his father, Ahmed Shah Durrani, twelve years after the battle of Panipat.
33
The title Durrani was, to begin with, adopted by Timur Shah's father Ahmed Shah on his being raised to the throne of Afghanistan in 1747.
34
The appelation was given to Ahmed Shah by his patron-saint Nabir Shah who called him Durri-i-Durrun, the pearl of pearls.
35
Mahmud of Ghazni (997-1030) was the son of Nasir-ud-Din Sabuktgin (977-997)
36
The fort of Rohtas in the district of Jhelum, Pakistan

Salem Shah Durrani resides alternately at Kandahar & Kabul, at the former in the Heats, and the latter in the cold Season, when the Mountains are covered with Snow.

His Military Establishment consists chiefly of Horse, to the number, it is said, of about 150,000; His Foot he does not hold in much esteem, only employing them to garrison his Fortresses; And very happily, we do not hear that his Equipment of Artillery is by any means respectable.
His Cavalry are all excellently mounted, incomparably superior to any that can be brought to oppose them from Hindoostan. The impression of Terror left on the minds of the Mahrattas, by the fatal Carnage at Paniput, is so indelible, that it is pretty generally believed they will hardly, if ever, be again prevailed upon to sustain the charge of the Abdallis; among many instances of the prevalence of this sentiment of dread, it is related, a Mahratta is not ashamed, if his horse should happen to start when drinking water to exclaim, "dost thou see the Shadow of an Abdalli"?

In fact, (it is far from an unreasonable conjecture,) this is the real cause, to which we are to attribute the unremitting attention paid by Scindia, of late years, to the improvement of his Artillery and Infantry, for the Alarm, that the Shah is advancing, is as regular at Dehly as the Revolutions of the Seasons. and it would appear from recent Accounts, that the period is not very distant, when that will certainly come to pass. A Son of Shah Alum, the present Shadow of the Moghul Emperors, has disappeared for some years past; it is now confidently reported, that he has found an Asylum with the Durrani. There is scarce a single dissenting opinion among the Natives, but whenever Salem Shah actually puts his Armies in motion towards Dehly, that unfortunate City will once more be abandoned to it's fate, and not improbably the greatest portion of the North of India.

It perhaps interests us materially to reflect, that if this Prince knew how to reap the advantages, which he might derive from his resources, from the warlike and intrepid Characters of his Subjects, from the opening of a safe Port in the Indus, for the Importation of Arms and Military Stores, we may have solid reasons for apprehending another inundation of Tartars; Happy for our Settlements in Bengal, that they have the Ganges to oppose to them!

The Province of Kabul is esteemed peculiarly productive; it's breed of Horses is perhaps equal to any in the World, for the purpose of Cavalry; As an instance of the celerity and expedition, with which they can travel, it is said, that after the Capture of Dehly, Ahmed Shah marched a Body of his Horse, from Bultun Gur37 (15 Coss from Dehly) to Muthra, a distance of about 50 Coss, in one Night; in consequence of which rapid March, the wretched City was surprised, and left to the Mercy of a barbarous Soldiery. The Inhabitants of Salem Shah's Dominions are principally Mahomedans, with some Hindoos, who have adopted the Institutions of Baba Manuk, and are called Kratri.38

The Manufactures are, shawls. Kelmaans or Blanket Shawls. Woollen Cloths and Blankets.

The Soil produces Grain and various sorts of Fruit, excellent in their kind, particularly Melons and Pomegranates. Their Horses are exported in considerable Numbers, by Joudpoor, Jesselmur, and Bickanear, as mentioned above, to different parts of India.

They receive in return, from Gujraat, &c., Pearl. Indigo, Nutmegs, Cloves, Saffron., Pepper, Bettlenut, Copper, Lead. Drugs, &c. &c.
N. B. The Coss are calculated at nearly one and a half English Miles each.

FOOTNOTE
37
Garh Muktesar in the Hapur tahil of Meerut district in the U.P.
38 They were not called Khatri but Sikhs after they adopted the religion of Baba (Guru) Nanak. Khatri or Kshatri ii the name of a Hindu caste.


Source:Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, Dr Ganda Singh




 
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