Friday, March 1, 1996

Musa Ram or Musa Rahim

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 11 :

Musa Ram or Musa Rahim
by Narendra Luther

Late in the 18th century, French mercenary soldiers were very spectacular rise of the French general, Bussy, in the Deccan. With a handful of men he routed armies ten times larger than his. That was because his troops were well-trained, disciplined and motivated, which in turn, was due to regular payment of salaries to them. On the other hand, the Indian soldiery was always in arrears of pay and consequently their morale was low.

A romantic French soldier of fortune came to India in 1775. His name was Michel Joachim Marie Raymond. He was barely twenty when his father, who was a merchant in France, sent him to Pondicherry with a consignment of goods to sell. Having made some profit in the deal, Raymond decided to start on a career of adventure. He therefore joined the corps of General de Lasse serving under Hyder Ali of Mysore. From there he moved on to join Bussy when he returned to India in 1783. On Bussy's death two years later, Raymond joined the French force under Basalat Jung, the Nizam's brother who had a jagir at Guntur. When the English compelled Basalat Jung to dismiss this corps, it was taken over by the Nizam and Raymond was placed at its head despite the protest by the English. By 1795, the corps had grown into an army of 15,000 men formed into 20 battalions and officered by 124 Europeans. Raymond was given a jagir in Medak to enable him to pay the salaries of the force regularly - the main reason for its high state of efficiency. Raymond made it self-sufficient in every respect. He established a gun foundry at Hyderabad to manufacture his own guns. Its ruins can still be seen in the locality with the name of `Gun Foundry' near the Fateh Maidan. The Nizam depended heavily on this force and because of this he was confident of tackling the Marathas, who were a constant source of harassment to him.

The battle of Khadla with the Marathas took place in 1795 midway between the forts of Parenda and Khadla near the river Manjira. The English remained neutral because of the provisions of the Treaty of 1768. Captain Kirkpatrick, the English Resident at Hyderabad, who accompanied the forces to the front, observed neutrality so meticulously that when his opinion was asked for on the strategy and tactics adopted by the Nizam's forces, he refused point-blank to give any comments. The Nizam lost the battle.

The Nizam was very sore with the English for not helping him in this battle and he therefore asked the English force to be withdrawn. This done, the Nizam's reliance on Raymond grew, increasing the latter's influence. He was assigned new jagirs to maintain a larger force.

In 1795, the Nizam's eldest son, Ali Jah fled from Hyderabad and raised the banner of rebellion at Bidar. He achieved some measure of initial success. The Nizam dispatched Raymond to subdue the delinquent prince. Raymond captured the rebel prince easily and the diwan, Mir Alam was sent to bring him home. He was brought on an elephant, but the diwan had the howdah of the elephant covered, a practice adopted only in the case of women. The prince could not stand this implied indignity and committed suicide on the way.

When Raymond was at the height of his powers and had ambitious plans, he suddenly died in 1798. He was then only 43. The British, seizing the opportunity, ordered the disbanding of Raymond's corps.

That needed great care and tact because Raymond had been a very popular leader, and the corps provided well-paid jobs to 15,000 families directly and many more indirectly. When the rank and file came to know of the proposal, they gheraoed Pirron and other officers. A mutiny was likely to break out, with consequent bloodshed. However due to exercise of tact and some luck they surrendered peacefully.

By the next evening, Raymond's legendary `paltan' - platoon - had been demobbed. It was now replaced by the English contingent.

Raymond had became a legend in his own life-time, and as time passed, this legend only grew. He was beloved alike of the ruler and his subjects; he was revered by his soldiers of all faiths because he drilled them, marched them, made men out of pariahs, paid them regularly and led them to victories. Even the mercenaries of the English were drawn towards him because his soldiers were paid one rupee a month more than their counterparts in the English army.

And as often happens in such cases, the name Monsieur Raymond was corrupted by its sheer popularity, into Musa Rahim by the Muslims and Musa Ram by the Hindus. He belonged to all and till this day an annual gathering - an urs - is held at his grave in Asmangarh. Lamps are lighted, flowers offered and tributes are paid by the descendants of his soldiers. Two centuries after his death, the name continues tosurvive. It is assured of immortality because there is now a locality called Moosa Ram Bagh which reminds its inhabitants every day of this plucky French soldier of fortune, who, to fulfill history's design was taken away at the prime of his powers.

However, their reverence for this man has not prevented people of the surrounding areas from encroaching upon the land reserved for the obelisk and the pavilion to commemorate him. Every day Raymond's mausoleum gets hemmed in more and more. Already it is difficult to reach it. The day does not seem to be far when the celebrated soldier will have to make do with just the minimum allowed to a dead-man - six feet by three - so that the living around him can also have a shelter over their heads. There is, after all, a limit to what will be spared for the dead. The living, must live till they die. And then it doesn't matter.


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Kirkpatrick and the Residency

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 12 :

Kirkpatrick and the Residency
by Narendra Luther

The first English Resident was appointed at Hyderabad in 1779. His name was Holland and he came as the envoy of the Government of the Madras Presidency. Due to some misunderstanding he was suspended by it. However, the Imperial Government at Calcutta nominated him as its representative at Hyderabad. Since then the Resident came to represent not the Governor of the Presidencies but the Governor-General at Calcutta.

James Kirkpatrick who succeeded his elder brother, William, was the sixth Resident and served for seven years at Hyderabad from 1798 to 1805.

Till then all the Residents had stayed in a garden-house of one of the Nizam's noblemen. Kirkpatrick himself also occupied the same house for some time, but, seeing the expanding and crucial role of the English agent at the court of the Nizam, he proposed to build an official residence for himself. He sounded out the diwan, Mir Alam, about the allotment of a suitable piece of land for the purpose. Mir Alam saw no objection in the proposal and asked the Resident to locate a piece and get a sketch-map of the site prepared so that the Nizam's approval could be obtained. Separately he secured Nizam's permission to the proposal in principle. However, when the sketch-plan wpresented to the Nizam, he took one look at it and threw it away in horror. Kirkpatrick was crestfallen. He asked Mir Alam the reason for this summary rejection. Mir Alam simply laughed. "Resident Bahadur", he chided the Englishman, "You made the plan on a paper so big that it seemed to equal the size of His Highness's dominions. How could he agree to part with that ?" Kirkpatrick, on hearing the reason, joined the diwan in laughter. Obviously, the Nizam was not aware of the principle of scale in drawing.

The Resident then reduced the scale and got the sketch-plan for an extent of 64 acres prepared on a piece of paper about the size of a visiting card. This time the Nizam readily agreed and Kirkpatrick then took up the project of building the Residency on the north side of the river Musi. The building constructed was so grand that on a visit to Hyderabad in 1817, Sir John Malcolm remarked that it was better than the Government House of Madras, and in splendour next only to the Governor-General's House in Calcutta.

The furniture for the Residency came from Carlton House in London. That was the residence of the Prince Regent and he wanted to dispose of his furniture. The directors of the East India Company required some political concession and so they purchased the old furniture at the price wanted by the Prince. Incidentally, the payment for the furniture was made by the Nizam who also maintained the Residency at his cost.

Kirkpatrick enjoyed his new abode. The Nizam granted him an Indian title - Hashmat Jung Bahadur - and it was only appropriate that he should adopt some of the ways enjoined by his new oriental knighthood. Accordingly, the young saheb acquired a mistress who stayed not far from the Residency.

Soon thereafter, Kirkpatrick married a Muslims girl called Khairnussina Begum who was distantly related to Mir Alam. The marriage was celebrated according to Islamic customs and Kirkpatrick wore the dress of a Muslim groom. However, Mir Alam needled by the diwan,Arastu Jah, complained to the Governor- General about the wedding and the embarrassment which it might cause to the Nizam's Government and the British and their mutual relationship. The Governor - General ordered an inquiry into the case but, thanks to the manipulation by Kirkpatrick, a favourable report was sent to the Governor - General. Kirkpatrick also had a letter sent by Khairnussa's mother to the Governor General testifying that the marriage was performed with her consent and blessing. The Nizam also issued a statement in favour of the Resident. The complaint was withdrawn and the complainant even apologized.

Khairunnisa gave birth to two lovely children - a boy, and a girl in the same order. In 1803 both were sent to England for education.The boy died there, but the girl Catherine grew up and married into a good English family. She became known for her beauty and wit and was the first sweet-heart of the great writer Carlyle, who immortalized her in Sartor Resartus as Blumhilde.

In 1805 Kirkpatrick was suddenly taken ill. He was advised a change of air and rest. He left for Calcutta for consultations with the Governor-General. When his boat reached Calcutta, his illness took a turn for the worse and he died when he was barely 41. His marriage had lasted only six years.

Thus passed into history another of those flamboyant characters, one of the early nabobs who strengthened the foundations of the British empire in India. In an age when the expectancy of life was short, men like him and Raymond who packed so much action into their brief life, died young.

Like Raymond, Kirkpatrick too is remembered by the people . His Residency now houses the University College for Women. Its ballroom is used for meetings of the general body of the students. On one of the walls of the building hang the pictures of his two children, William George and Catherine. Khairunissa's apartments - the Rang Mahal - have been altered and converted into laboratories for the physical sciences. The original area of 64 acres has now shrunk to 34 the remaining area having been made over to the Osmania Medical College for a hostel. Some area was given to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad in 1977 for widening the adjoining road. In the vast and expanding concrete jungle that most of the city is turning into, the Residency still stands as an oasis - a patch of green sprinkled with bevies of young ladies. Close by is the bazaar know after Kirkpatrick's Persian title - Hashmat Ganj. Few people know today that it was named after an Englishman.

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