Thursday, February 1, 1996

Three Nazars For The First Nizam

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 9-10

Three Nazars For The First Nizam
by Narendra Luther

The first Nizam, the governor of the Deccan, was also the prime minister of the Mughal empire. In 1739 when Nadir Shah invaded India and was marching towards Delhi, the Mughal emperor was prevailed upon to summon the Nizam to help him deal with the situation. The Nizam obeyed and proceeded to meet the invader at Karnal about 110 kms west of Delhi - close to Panipat. While he was with Nadir Shah, news came to him from the South that, his son Nasir Jung who had been kept in charge of the Deccan province during his absence, had raised a banner of rebellion. Nizam-ul-Mulk cautioned him against such an imprudent course but Nasir Jung was in no mood to listen. The old horse therefore rushed back to deal with his delinquent son. The battle between the father and son was joined near Daulatabad in 1741. The young man fought bravely but many nobles deserted him and he was easily routed. He was brought as a captive into the presence of his father.

After his victory, the Nizam's minister Sayyad Lashkar Khan, offered a nazar to him for his success in crushing the rebellion of his son. He accepted it as a token of the celebration of his victory. Immediately thereafter, the minister offered another nazar "why this second nazar, Khan ?" asked the puzzled patriarch.

"Sire", replied the minister meekly, "the first one was for your victory. The second is for the reason that your son has escaped injury on the battle-field and is safe and sound." The Nizam accepted it with a hint of a smile.

Again, the Khan offered a nazar for the third time.

A frown came over the aging brow. "What is this puzzle, my Khan ? Why this third nazar ?"

This time the minister too smiled and he made bold to give the explanation : "The name of the noble prince is Nasir Jung, my Lord. that means victory in war. The bearer of such a name should not retreat in war. And God be praised, he has justified his name. It is God's grace and your wisdom that the affair has come to a proper conclusion. But the prince is not a coward."

The Nizam beamed this time as he accepted the third nazar. How did the Minister know that these were the exact thoughts going on his mind too ? When he had offered prayers to his Creator after crushing the rebellion, he too had thanked the Almighty for these very three things. A son is a son even in his rebellion. All fathers know it; very few sons realize this.

The father forgave the son. But an example had to be made of him. Lest the Nizam should be taken as a soft ruler, Nasir Jung was kept under close watch for some time after the event.


1762 and ruled till 1803, had two battalions of women soldiers numbering 2,000. They were called `zaffar paltan' or the `victorious platoon'. The female soldiers were called `guardnees' - feminine gender of the English word `guard' in Urdu. They were dressed like the old British soldiers and were regularly trained according to the French system. They accompanied the Nizam on the battle of Khadla with the Marathas in 1795. Their main job was to mount guard in the harem and to accompany the `zenana'. That was probably the first womans' brigade in the world. The defeat of the Nizam in the Battle of Khadla is largely attributed to the panic created by these women when the Marathas mounted a sortie at night. It was a baneful practice with the later Mughals that the women of the nobles and generals also accompanied them on campaigns thus interfering with their unstinted devotion to the mission. In course of time the practice was ended, the supervision of the seraglio being best done by eunuchs according to the age-old practice. The eunuchs were specially selected for this job because they were incapable of any `mischief' with the ladies of the harem. They also ensured the effective observation of the code of morality by them. But these Amazons must have faded gradually. In 1861, Briggs, Assistant Resident at Hyderabad saw six of those girls at the residence of the Paigah. While doing a drill for him, they giggled in shyness like any other girls. At this time they looked quite unmilitary - like with chappals for footwear, unpressed trousers, and wielding bamboo staves.

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