Beg-Lar-Nama, n. a.
In The History of India as Told by its own Historians. The Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 8, pp. 38-49.
The history Beg-Lar-Nama takes its name from the patron who commissioned the work, Shah Kasim Khan, son of Amir Saiyid Kasim Beg-Lar, who governed the province of Sindh during the early seventeenth century. The author is unknown, but appears to have been a dependent of Shah Kasim Khan. The date of composition is also unknown, but it appears to have been written sometime between 1607 and 1625 CE.
The history gives a cursory account of the early history of Sindh, but primarily covers the exploits of the Beg-lar family, to which Shah Kasim Khan belonged. They were Turks, originally from Turmuz, who emigrated to Samarkand and thence to Sindh. Amir Shah Kasim arrived from Samarkand and was received with distinction, and married a local princess. Their son, the patron of this work Shah Kasim, gained the title Khan-i Zaman. He visited and was received well by Akbar, and was appointed to a position in Sindh. The bulk of the history concerns the various raids undertaken by Khan-i Zaman, as well as the various squabbles and intrigues that took place among his family members. The passage excerpted here deals narrates the attack on the fort of ‘Umarkot undertaken by one of Khan-i Zaman’s subordinates, Mir Abu-l Kasim.
The Sacking of ‘Umarkot
The appointment of the governorship of ‘Umarkot depended upon the will of the kings of Sind, who removed the incumbent whenever they thought proper. About the time when Khan-i Khanan came to Sind, the governorship ‘of that fort was held by Rana Megraj. Khan-i Khanan expressed a desire to be connected by marriage with the Rana, who having no daughter fit to be given in marriage to him, he was obliged to offer the hand of his brother Man Sing’s daughter. After the death of Rana Megraj, Nawwab Mirza Jani Beg conferred the governorship of ‘Umarkot on his son Kishan Das. Animosity sprang’ up between this chief and Man Sing, and he, having turned out Man Sing from the fort, assumed the surname himself. Man Sing, being related to Khan-i Khanan, sent his son to represent the matter to him. In those days Khan-i Khanan and Nawwab Mirza Jani Beg were both in attendance on the Emperor Akbar at Burhanpur. Khan-i Khanan therefore recommended Man Sing to the favour of Mirza Beg, who wrote to Mirza Abu-l Kasim Sultan directing him to place Man Sing in the governorship of the fort of ‘Umarkot, and make Kishan Das understand [p. 47] that he was not to oppose and thwart him, but that the same rule with regard to their respective positions should be observed now, as had been established from of old in the family. Mir Abu-l Kasim Sultan, in obedience to this, mandate, proceed from the fort of Shahgarh1 towards ‘Umarkot. Having reached the village of Samara he alighted there, Man Sing being also with him. Rana Kishan Das being informed of this, collected his forces, and having encamped opposite the same village, drew up his army in hostile array. This Rana Kishan Das was in many ways related to the noble Khan-i Zaman, one of his sisters being married to Mir Abu-l Kasim, another to Shah Mukim Sultan,2 and he himself was son-in-law of Bancha Bhatti, the maternal nephew of the Khan. Some friendly people who were with the Amir were anxious that no fighting should take place between the parties. When they expressed their intention to the Rana, he said he considered himself a servant of Mir Abu-l Kasim, and would not rebel against him: still Man Sing must not be allowed any interference, because he was the origintor of these quarrels and disturbances. Mir Abu-l Kasim, however, adhered to the orders he had received to place Man Sing in the governorship. At length, upon the instigation of his well-meaning friends, the Rana resolved to go to Mir Abu-l Kasim Sultan. So when he arrived, he alighted from his horse, and having changed his vanity and pride for humility and supplication, he advanced on foot for a long distance with his whole army, officers, dependants, and servants. He kissed the feet of the Sultan, and presented him the horse on which he had himself ridden. The Sultan mounted and gave him his hand. He then pitched his tent near the pool of Samara and passed the night there. The Rana also encamped on the margin of the pool. At daybreak, some of the people of the Mir’s camp, who belonged to the Sameja tribe, went into the fields of the Sodhas and began to injure them. As hostilities had previously existed between these tribes, the Sodhas abused the [p. 48] Sallejas, and a quarrel ensued. Intelligence being brought to Mir Abu-l Kasim, he immediately hastened off; and Rana Kishan Das also set his army in array, and advanced with intent to fight, but his heart failing him, he took to flight, and proceeded towards Kaurhar. Mir Abu-l Kasim with his followers and companions, hastened to ‘Umar-kot. When he approached the fort, a son of the Rana Kishan Das who was in it, not being able to oppose him, took some money with him and fled. Upon this, the Mir entered the fort and the whole family of the Rana were captured. But as they were related to him, they, together with his treasures, were of course protected. All other things, however, were taken possession of by the army. Temples were demolished, cows were directed to be butchered, and the houses of the infidels were made to resound with the sound of trumpets and horns and their filthy idols were polluted. In the idolatrous places of worship Muhammadan tenets were promulgated, and prayers were read for one entire week. He remained in the fort passing his time in festivity and pleasure. As the killing of cows and the breaking of idols is considered by the Sodhas to be the highest possible insult, the Rana felt highly indignant, and having returned from the village of Kaurhar, he summoned the Sodhas from all sides and quarters to meet him at Gaddi. There they crowded ready to advance on ‘Umarkot. They had been subjected to great ignominy, and so they were all ready to sacrifice their lives in revenge. When this news reached Khan-i Zaman, he, reflecting that both parties were enrolled in his army, was most anxious that no contest should take place between them, and consequently hurried away with the intention of effecting reconciliation between them. He set out in the evening from Nasrpur, and having travelled the whole night arrived early the next morning at the village of Gaddi, where the Rana and the Sodhas had encamped. He sent his son Mir Shah Mukim Sultan, Mir Fathi Beg Sultan, and Kana Bhatti, brother of Ram Bhatti, to the Rana, in order to appease and comfort him. They [p. 49] accordingly went to him, and so far appeased him that he was induced to accompany them, and had the honour of kissing the Khan’s feet. The Khan exalted him by the grant of a horse and robe of honour, and spoke words of sympathy and consolation. In the end, some of the plundered property was restored, but the Rana obtained only poor satisfaction.
- Shahgarh was built bv Khan-i Zaman on the banks of the Sankra, “and nothing now remains of it except the name.” –Tuhfatu-l Kiram, MS. P. 72.
- These two were sons of Khan-i Zaman.