History of Karauli State in Modern period from 15th to 18th century—

Between AD 1589 and 1734, the small Rajput Yaduvamshi (or Yadavas) kingdom of Karauli was ruled in succession by Dwarka Das, Mukund Das, Jagman, Chhatraman, Dharmapal, Ratanpal and Kanwarpal II (r. 1691-1734.)
The period was generally marked by an overall state of confusion and dissension. Internal palace squabbles and harem intrigues added to the disorder.
Taking advantage of the situation, rival groups of nobles quibbled over political pre-eminence at the court during this period. Meanwhile, Karauli appears to
have taken part in Imperial campaigns. Archival records tell us that the ruler of Karauli helped Dhoondhar’s maharajas Bishan Singh and Jai Singh II in their
expeditions against the Jats during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Kanwarpal II, who had occupied the gaddi of Karauli from 1691 to 1734, witnessed the declining hold of the Mughal Empire and the growing might of alternate powers. The year 1734 saw the accession of his son, Copal Singh II (A.D 1734-1757). It was with the accession of Gopal Singh II that the internal fortunes of the kingdom of Karauli entered a newer, more vigorous, phase in contrast to the internal dissension and weak administration that the kingdom had suffered in the preceding century and more.
Maharaja Gopal Singh seems to have inherited many of the qualities of his famed ancestor (and near namesake) Gopaldas. Not only was Gopal Singh
successful in bringing the Yadavas of Muktawat and Sar-Mathura under his
control, he also expanded the territories held by Karauli, and dealt successfully with various internal and external dangers facing his kingdom. Besides over￾powering hostile neighbours and arrogant courtiers alike, Gopal Singh secured his kingdom from Maratha incursions, which, under his predecessors, had assumed alarming proportions, by agreeing to pay them a tribute.

Famed as a great builder, he was responsible for a defensive boundary wall, made from the famous local red stone, around the city of Karauli, as well
as buildings like the ‘Dewan-e-Aam’, ‘Dewan-e-Khas’, ‘Tripolia’, and ‘Nakkar￾khana’ inspired by the Mughal style. The ‘Copal’ and ‘Madanmohan’ temples, dedicated to Vishnu, were also among the several temples built by him at various
places. Copal Singh was conferred the title of ‘Mahi Maratib’ by the Mughal
emperor in 1753.

Gopal Singh died in 1757, and was succeeded by his nephew, Tarsampal (A.D. 1757-1772). The new ruler had to face the rebellion of Shikarwar Rajputs.

The latter managed to occupy Karauli, the capital-city of the kingdom, but Tarsampal, rallying his forces, successfully crushed the revolt and recaptured the
capital. Tarsampal died in 1772. He was succeeded by his son, Manakpal (A.D 1772-1804). By this period, the Maratha inroads into Rajasthan were becoming
more frequent than before, despite the setback received in 1761 at the field of Panipat. In 1784 Mahadji Scindia succeeded in investing the small principality
of Gohad, near Gwalior. Gohad’s ruler, Rana Chhatar Singh Lokendra Bahadur managed to escape and sought refuge with Manakpal. Mahadji Scindia now sent a message asking Manakpal to deliver the Gohad chief into Maratha hands. Manakpal pretended ignorance about the whereabouts of Rana Chhatar Singh; at which Mahadji decided to attack Karauli.

The Maratha forces advanced up to Rampur, near Karauli. In the pitched battle that ensued, Manakpal was hard-pressed, but managed to hold his own,
and the Maratha leader, Rodji Scindia, was killed. However, under persistent pressure from Mahadji, Manakpal was later forced to hand Rana Chhatar Singh to the Marathas. In 1795 Mahadji Scindia occupied the Sabalgarh part of Karauli’s territories, along with the adjoining tract long known as Jadaonwati.
Manakpal was also compelled to pay tribute to the Marathas. This was later commuted in favour of the grant of Masalpur and its surrounding area. While all
this was going on, Manakpal was drawn into family feuds. This proved to be a necessary preoccupation, and the state of affairs continued till the ruler’s death in AD 1804.
As mentioned previously, Maratha incursions and intra-family rivalries had weakened many of the ruling states during the period that the Mughal Empire
was dwindling across northern India. In 1804, Karauli’s Manakpal (A.D 1772- 1804), was succeeded by Harbaksh Pal . Faced by yet another Maratha attack, Harbaksh Pal of Karauli was forced
to agree to an annual payment of Rs. 25,000 annually as khiraj to the Maratha Peshwa. Finally, in November 1817, Karauli deemed it prudent to enter into a treaty with the East India Company. In lieu of the payment of tribute, under
Article 5 of the treaty, Karauli state was bound to provide troops according to its means, whenever requisitioned by the British East India Company. Meanwhile, prior to that, during the reign of Harbaksh Pal’s predecessor,
Manakpal, Karauli had yielded the tract of Masalpur to the Marathas in lieu of tribute. In 1817, under Article 14 of the Treaty of Poona, formalised between the Peshwa and the East India Company, ‘Machalpur’ (Masalpur), and its
‘dependencies’ were ceded to the British. Since the Company found it inconvenient to take possession of the isolated villages, the tribute was relinquished in November 1817, when the above mentioned treaty was signed
between Karauli and the British.
While the treaty-terms were still being finalised, Harbaksh Pal asked for a guarantee that some of Karauli’s lands south of the Chambal river, which had
been previously ceded to the Marathas, could revert to Karauli, on payment of annual tribute, if the British gained control of them. However, this was not to be.
In 1825, the ruler of Karauli involved himself in the matters of Bharatpur state. There, Durjansal had rebelled against his cousin, Balwant Singh, who was
deemed the legitimate heir to the Bharatpur throne. Maharaja Harbaksh Pal of Karauli opted to support the cause of Durjansal, and despatched a large number
of men from Karauli and neighbouring villages to Bharatpur. The British East
India Company Agent at Karauli sent word of this to the Resident at Delhi. Once the British had successfully put down Durjansal, and consolidated the position of
the minor Balwant Singh on the gaddi of Bharatpur, Maharaja Harbaksh Pal of Karauli had to apologise for his actions and placate the East India Company.
Following the death of Harbaksh Pal, the East India Company raised Pratap Pal (A.D 1838-1848) of the thikana (estate) of Hadoti to the gaddi of Karauli. As the choice was made against the wishes of the mother and the widow of the late Maharaja, both the women left Karauli in protest and took up residence in Bharatpur. When Pratap Pal died without an heir in 1848, the minor Narsingh
Pal, also a scion of the Hadoti thikana, was raised to the throne. Since Karauli was in debt to the British at the time, the British declared they would withhold
recognition of the succession until the first instalment of the due amount was paid. However, in view of internal politics and factionalism at the Karauli court,
the British realised that it would be more prudent to acknowledge the accession of the minor Narsingh Pal without more delay. However, it was stressed that the
payment due would need to be made as soon as feasible.
(Karauli’s debt to Bharatpur state was adjusted against amounts owed by Bharatpur to the British. In 1844, Karauli’s debt totalled Rs. 1,54,312. The
British gave relatively ‘easy’ terms to Karauli for paying off this amount. The state had a period of twelve years to repay the amount in instalments, with no interest to be charged, except on any instalment remaining unpaid. However, up to 1847 nothing had been repaid, and the British agreed to wait another one-and-
a-half years for the first instalment of Karauli’s debt). Soon afterwards, in view of the Maharaja’s minority, and in view of a lack of consensus and attitude of co-operation between the factions active at the Karauli court, the East India Company appointed a British officer to look after the administration of Karauli state. In the next few years, boundary disputes between Karauli and Jaipur too were resolved through British intervention.
Upon the premature death of the still under-age Narsingh Pal (r. 1848 ,1852), the East India Company decided to apply Governor General Lord
Dalhousie’s infamous ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ to Karauli. However, a bare day or two before his death, Narsingh Pal had allegedly adopted a distant kinsman
called Bharat Pal. As such, the Governor General’s decision to take over Karauli was over-ruled by London. In the interim, a strong party at the Karauli court,
pointed out that Madan Pal was a closer relative to the late Narsingh Pal, than was Bharat Pal, and that the throne should go to him. Madan Pal’s claim was
supported by the rulers of Jaipur, Bharatpur, Alwar and Dholpur as well. An inquiry was ordered by the British, in which it was ascertained that due to the
minority of Narsingh Pal, and the omission of certain necessary ceremonies, the adoption of Bharat Pal was not fully valid.
Madan Pal was a close kin to the last ruler. And, since he was acceptable to the various queen-mothers and widowed ranis, as well as to nine of Karauli’s most influential Thakurs and three-fourths of the lesser feudal lords, besides the
populace, in 1854 Madan Pal (r. 1854-1869) was formally recognised as Maharaja of Karauli by the British. Direct intervention in the internal administration of Karauli by the British Political Agent was withdrawn by the
East India Company. In 1855 the Agency was moved from Karauli. However, Madan Pal was warned that failure to pay off the arrears of the State’s debt (by
then reduced to Rs. 93,312), as per agreed instalments, would result in the British sequestrating one or two of Karauli’s districts, until such time as the debt
was liquidated.
Maharaja Madan Pal sided with the East India Company during the uprising of 1857. He sent across his troops into Kotah State for the assistance of
Maharao Ram Singh of Kotah, when the latter was beleaguered and forced to remain within his palace by mutinous soldiers of the Kotah forces and other
rebels following the killing of the Resident, Captain Burton, at Kotah. Karauli’s forces also helped the British in quelling unrest in the nearby pargana of
Hindaun. In acknowledgement of the help given by Madan Pal, the British wrote of Karauli’s remaining debt (which at the time amounted to Rs. 1,17,000), and
granted him a khillat honour, among other things .
Despite the writing-off of the debt, by 1859 Karauli was again facing
financial problems. A British political agent was, therefore, temporarily deputed
to Karauli to help and advise the Maharaja. The Political Agent was withdrawn in 1861, but not before he had helped in settling a dispute concerning water.
sharing between Karauli and Jaipur states

. In 1862, Madan Pal, like several of his brother-princes, was granted a sanad authorising the right of adopting an heir, and in 1867 the British raised the gun-salute of the ruler from fifteen to seventeen.
One may add here that Karauli’s first school along the ‘western’ model of education, was established in 1864, during Madan Pal’s reign. This became a
high school in 1904. In 1868 an extradition treaty was concluded with the British, concerning criminals accused of certain offences. This was modified in
1887 by an agreement that provided for the extradition of an offender from British India to Karauli.
Upon Madan Pal’s death in 1869, his nephew, Rao Lakshman Pal of
Hadoti thikana, was recognised as his successor. However, within a short while of gaining the gaddi of Karauli, and before his formal installation, Lakshman Pal
too died. Following deliberations amongst the senior nobles, queen-mother, etc.
it was decided to offer the gaddi of Karauli to Jai Singh Pal of Hadoti ( 1869- 1875). The succession was formally recognised by the British.
Jai Singh Pal had a short reign. He left no heir, and on his death in 1875, he was succeeded by Arjunpal Singh (r. 1875-1886), who, like his predecessor, also
came from the thikana of Hadoti. Another relative, Sujan Pal staked his claim to the title, and to the headship of the Hadoti estates, on the basis of his kinship to
the previous ruler. The issue was resolved by the ruling of the senior nobles of the state, who upheld the claim of Arjunpal. A couple of years later, at the 1877
Delhi Assemblage, the Government of India remitted the interest due upon the
dues owed by Karauli state. However, by 1881 Karauli was faced with financial difficulties. Arjunpal Singh was accused of mismanagement by the British, and was divested of his ruling powers (though not deposed). The administration was entrusted to a Council, under the control of the British political agent.
A year later, in 1882, Karauli concluded a Salt Agreement with the British.
Under the terms of this, local salt manufacturing within the state was suppressed and no salt was to be imported or consumed within Karauli state except that on
which British duty had been levied. Karauli’s own duties on this trade were abolished. In exchange, the British agreed to give the ruler Rs. 5,000 annually, and to deliver fifty maunds of salt free of cost and duty annually at Sambhar for
the personal use of the Karauli Maharaja. Later the British agreed to pay a sum.money to certain jagirdars of Karauli as compensation for their losses from the suppression of the local salt manufacture and trade. In 1884, Karauli abolished all transit duties on goods, throughout the state, with the exception of
those applicable to opium and other intoxicants.
Like his three immediate predecessors, Arjunpal left no heir to succeed him on his death in December 1886. The title thus passed to his nephew from the
Hadoti fief-hold, Bhanwar Pal Singh (r. 1886-1927). However, the administration remained in the hands of the State Council, under the supervision of the Political Agent. In June 1887, the new Maharaja was given some of the
ruler’s powers, subject to some conditions. By June 1889, Karauli state was finally free of its debts, and Bhanwar Pal was invested with full ruling powers.
Since the state of Karauli incurred heavy debts during his reign, Bhanwar Pal was fated to witness the British Political Agent for the Eastern Rajputana states
temporarily taking over the administration of the state from him in 1906. The Maharaja would not have his powers back for another eleven years, as we shall.
‘Modernisation’ brought changes to Karauli in the twentieth century, including a railway line etc. In 1904 Maharaja Bhanwar Pal (r. 1886-1927), gave land free of
cost for the construction of the Nagda-Mathura Railway. In 1906, the local coinage was replaced by Imperial British currency. However, in view of Karauli’s financial problems, which had come to a head under Maharaja
Bhanwar Pal’s rule, that same year the state came under the administrative control of the British Political Agent for the Eastern Rajputana States. This
arrangement continued till 1917. Meanwhile, following the outbreak of the First World War, Maharaja Bhanwar Pal placed the resources of his state at the disposal of the British Crown.
In 1915 Karauli saw political meetings in favour of the Indian National Congress policies, but it would be a while before any local political movement was to take root in this area. In 1922, Karauli state enacted laws and regulations that rendered effective the provisions of the 1912 International Opium
Convention. Meanwhile, by August 1923 the financial condition of Karauli had stabilised, and the state was free of all its debts. Maharaja Bhanwar Pal died on 3
August 1927. He too left no heir, and was succeeded by his younger brother, Bhaum Pal .
It was around this period that the son of a former dewan of Karauli State, Kunwar Madan Singh, who had taken up the cause of the local peasants and the
deprived, raised his voice against the practice of begaar, or forced labour, which was prevalent to a greater degree in Karauli state than in adjoining states. One
may note here that Karauli state’s main land-tenure categories were State-owned khalsa lands — which comprised three-fifths of the total area of the State, lands
held as bapoti or as jagir by the elite, and muafi and inam lands granted rent-free for past services or as acts of piety. Tenant-farmers on khalsa lands were
generally never ejected from their holdings as long as they paid their revenue- dues etc. to the state, and their descendants were, in turn, entitled to ‘inherit’ the
land provided they continued to meet the demands of the state. All bapotidars and jagirdars were expected to pay a fixed amount of land-revenue, known as
‘khandi’ (literally, ‘portion’) to the state. However, some of the bapoti grant.had been sub-divided so many times over the years that they were counted as
‘raza muafi’ or stray revenue-free holdings. By the mid 1920s, many of the smaller bapotidars and raza muafidars of Karauli state were cultivating their own fields, while Meenas constituted a large section of the other cultivators.
As such, when along with calling for the abolition of begaar, Madan Singh demanded that the state repeal the prohibition against the killing of wild boars/pigs, and permit the peasants to kill the wild boars that ravaged their
agricultural fields and caused great damage, it attracted the attention of a major section of the cultivators. Kunwar Madan Singh declared that he would not eat
chapatis, wear footwear, or sleep on a bed until the state took notice of the plight of the poor peasants, and he launched an agitation. (A plea for the introduction
of Hindi as the state’s official language in place of Urdu, among other things, was later added by others).
As the state authorities turned a deaf ear, Madan Singh and his wife went on a hunger-strike to press the demands, using the Gopal Singh Chhatri as their
venue. As news of the hunger-strike spread, the rural people of the state began to
collect at the Copal Singh Chhatri in a show of support. They raised slogans against the state authorities. The state yielded before this, and Madan Singh’s
demands were conceded in 1927. Unfortunately, the ‘people’s hero’ Madan Singh died later that same year, while serving cholera-affected Harijans (as the
‘Dalits’ were termed at the time).
By the mid 1930s other winds of change were beginning to affect Karauli, including the activities of the Congress and other political parties within British
India. In June 1938 Munshi Trilok Chand Mathur and his associates formed the Karauli Rajya Sewak Sangh. A few months later they also organised a khadi
movement — named the ‘Madan Khadi Kutir’ in memory of the late Kunwar Madan Singh — to enable self-sufficiency and employment among the poor.
Around the same time, Trilok Chand Mathur and his colleagues also began to organise activities akin to those taken up by the Indian National Congress. It
seems the movement in Karauli state had closer links with Congress activists and
activities in Agra at this time, rather than with Jaipur state.
. By 1939 the Karauli Rajya Praja Mandal had been established, with Munshi Trilok Chand
Mathur, Chiranji Lal Sharma and Kalyan Das among its prominent members.
The Praja Mandal also attracted members of the state’s nobility like Thakur Puran Singh and Bhanwar Lal.The movement in Karauli was not directed against its ruler, but rather, urged redressal of local grievances.

Author -Dr Dhirendra Singh Jadaun
Village -Larhota near Sasni
District -Hatharas ,Uttar Pradesh .
Associate Professor in Agriculture
Shahid Captain Ripudman Singh Govt.College , Sawaimadhopur ,Rajasthan ,322001 .

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