The Jagat Seth Family জগৎ শেঠ পরিবার

Origin of Seths

The Jagat Seth dynasty has been a most Illustrious Oswal Jain family of Gailara gotraof India having outstanding achievents and Influence in political, religious and business circles. It is said that Gailara gotra had its origin from Khichi Gahlot Rajputs in 1495 AD. One Girdhar Singh Gahlot was Induced into Jainism by Jain SaintJinhans Suriji. The Gailara gotra came into being after the name of his son Gailaji. The belonged to the sect Svetambara.

In 1652, Heeranand Sahu (the stock from which the Seths claim their descendance), was compelled to leave Nagore (their native place) inMarwar for a livelihood elsewhere. With the blessings of a Jain Saint he migrated to Patna, (reached Patna on the third day of New moon on the month of Baisakh in the Vikram Samvat year 1709 BS), where he was attracted by the bustling city and its great wealth. He started as a banker and a trader of saltpetre. Saltpetre from Bihar was then the most sought after commodity by the Europeans and he soon prospered. He advanced loans to Europeans and discounted bills of exchange, they received from other places. Heeranand Sahu had seven sons - Manick Chand, Nayan Chand, Amen Chand, Muluk Chand, Roop Chand, Sudhanand and Gobordhan. When his sons arrived at manhood, became bankers and scattering themselves all over India. The son whose career is most interesting is Manick Chand. He settled in Dacca, then the capital of Bengal, and the home of the Dewan of Bengal Murshid Quli Khan. Heeranand Sahu also had a daughter whom he gave in marriage to a son of Uadichand.

Seth Manick Chand

When Manick Chand established his Kothi at Dacca, the then capital of Bengal, there was political termoil in the country. The Mughal Emperor Aurangseb was loosing his influence and the chiefs at distant places were increasing their personal influence and power to establish independant states. Aurangzeb had appointed Murshid Quli Khan asDewan of Asim-ush-Shan, the Nawab of Dacca. Intelligent, courageous and bold, both Murshid Quli Khan and Manick Chand, who had brotherly affection for each other, wielded great influence and power in Dacca. But while safeguarding imperial interests, the Dewan came into conflict withAzim-ush-Shan(the grandson of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb). Murshid Quli Khan was about to lose his life, but he faced the problem with courage and somehow escaped. Aurangzeb intervened and allowed him to shift his Dewani daftar (office) from Dhaka (Jahangirnagar / Dhaka) to Mukhsusabad, on the banks of river Ganges in 1704. The emperor also ordered his grandson Azim-ush-Shan to shift to Patna (which was renamed to Azimabad) and govern the province through deputies. Manick Chand moved with the court and was given a post of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the duties of a collector of revenue. Manick Chand was keeper of the Nawab's purse and treasure. Murshid Quli Khan built his palace named "Chahel Setun" (near present Chowk Masjid) and Manick Chand's palace [Location Map - House of Jagat Seth, Mahimapur : 24°12'N 88°15'E] was at Mahimapur 3 km from "Chahel Setun". The town of Murshidabad along river Ganges was set up with joint effort of both of them. Seth Manick Chand invested heavily to make it a prospeous town. They sent an annual revenue of rupees two crores to Aurangzeb in place of the existing revenue of rupees one crore and thirty lacs.

After the defeat of Jahandar Shahin the battle at Agra on 10th January 1713 AD,Farrukhsiyar(second son of Azim-ush-shan and nephew of Jahandar Shah) became the Emperor at Delhi. The title "Seth" was conferred upon the Marwaris by Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1715 AD. Thus Manick Chand was the founder of the Seths of Murshidabad. The Nawabs, Dewans, chief and senior officers of the British East India Company used to consult Seth Manick Chand in important matters. Shining star of the 18th century he played a very important role in the history of Bengal. He maintained a strong army of 2000 soldiers at his own cost. the entire revenue of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was collected by Seth Manick Chand and the currency minted by him was used in these three states.

Seth Manick Chand had huge amount of gold and silver which could not be measured in any terms. He had ahuge stock of emeralds. Proverbally it was said that he could stop the flow of the river Ganges by constructing a wall of gold and silver accross the steam. It is believed that no civilian in India had wealth equal that of him in those days. Several times his wealth was looted but he coninued to remain the richest person.
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Jagat Seth Fateh Chand

Manick Chand having no son adopted a nephew, one Fateh Chand Seth (in the Samvat year 1757 BS), chief partner in a firm in Delhi. Manick Chand died in 1722 AD, and his remains were placed in Manikbag. It is said that when Fateh Chand established himself in Murshidabad he was the richest man in India. The title, "Jagat Seth" (banker of the world), was conferred on Fateh Chand at his first visit to the EmperorMuhammad Shah, in 1724 AD. There is no doubt that Fateh Chand was a power, and when a "Khillut" (present of honour) was sent to the Nazim, a similar favour was shown to the banker, and among other presents, he received an emerald seal bearing the title "Jagat Seth". When Suja-ud-Daulla (সুজা-উদ-দৌল্লা) succeeded Murshid Quli Khan in 1727 AD, Fateh Chand was one of his four councillors. Fateh Chand found favour with each ruling Nawab, and the succession of Sarfaraz Khan (শরফরাজ খাঁ)in 1739 AD, made no change in his position. A breach occurred between Sarfaraz Khan and Fateh Chand, when to the lust of the Nazim Sarfaraz Khan, who hearing of the great beauty of the wife of Fateh Chand's son, sought to see her. How great an insult such suggestion conveyed can only be understood by a dweller in the East. Jagat Seth, burning with hatred towards his oppressor, entered into communication with Alivardi Khan (আলীবর্দী খাঁ). Carried back to honour and power after the successful revolt of Alivardi Khan, Fateh Chand lived in luxury until 1744 AD (Samvat year 1801 BS), when he died, leaving his riches and honours to "Jagat Seth" Madhab Rai, his grandson (son of his eldest son Anand Chand). His remains were placed in Jagat Bisram. He had three sons Seth Anand Chand, Daya Chand and Maha Chand, and two daughters. Seth Anand Chand was born at Patna. Anand Chand received the title of "Seth" from the Emperor Mumahhad Shah in the fourth year of his reign. Anand Chand died before his father. Fateh Chand's second son's child, Swaroop Chand, received the title of "Raja". The fortune of the two Seths is said to have been equal to £10,000,000.
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Jagat Seth Madhab Rai

In 1744 AD Emperor Muhammad Shah conferred the title of "Jagat Seth" to Madhab Rai and the title of "Maharaja" to Swaroop Chand. In 1756 AD Alivardi Khan died, and Siraj-ud-Daulla employed the Seths in his transactions with the English. After Alivardi's death, Siraj-ud-Daulla could not get the farman (order) for Bengal's Subahdari from Delhi, instead his cousin brotherShaukat Jang the nawab of Purnea got it. Siraj-ud-Daulla approached Madhab Rai for a loan of Rs 3 crore, but he was denied of the requisition. Madhab Rai Jagat Seth was insulted, and slapped on his face by Siraj-ud-Daulla. Later Madhab Rai Jagat Seth helped Mir Jafar to receive the Subahdari of Bengal from the Samrat at Delhi. Thus the wealthy and prosperous Jagat Seth's played a key role in the politics of Bengal. On June 22nd, and August 22nd, The East India Company's scattered Council met at Fultah, and sent a letter to the Madhab Rai Jagat Seth, asking him to intercede with the Nawab. The fate of this letter was to be detained by Omichand. In the meanwhile, Siraj-ud-Daulla, quarrelled with the Jagat Seth, who protested against being the means of wringing more money from the Nawab's oppressed subjects. It is said that the enraged Nawab struck the banker, and caused him to be imprisoned. This treatment of the Seth further estranged Mir Jafar Ali Khan, who was already smarting under his own grievances. On April the 23rd 1757, Yar Latif Khan, commanding the Nawab's cavalry, and also the bodyguard of the Seths, who paid the commander extra for his protection, came to Mr. Watts at the factory at Cossimbazar. At the instigation of the Seths, he was to betray the city to the English, and give material assistance. This plot was the one which, afterwards, by the adherence of Mir Jafar, became the means by which Lord Clive was able to overthrow the Nawab at Plassey. In 1764 AD After the defeat at the Battle of Bauxer at Udaynala Mir Qasim carried off Madhab Rai Jagat Seth and Raja Swaroop Chand with him to Mongyer, where they were murdered. They were thrown from one of the bastions of the fort into the Ganges.
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Jagat Seth Khushal Chand

Jagat Seth Madhab Rai and Raja Swaroop Chand were succeeded by their sons. These two Seths,Khushal Chand, eldest son of Madhab Rai, and Udwat Chand, eldest son of the Raja Swaroop Chand, revived the family fortunes, and in 1766 AD the EmperorShah Alam II conferred the title of "Jagat Seth" on Khushal Chand (in the Hijri Year 1170 AH), while the title of "Maharaja" was granted to Udwat Chand. Kushal Chand was born at Dacca on the fifth day of the new moon of Bhadra in the Samvat year 1810 BS. Lord Clive appointed Khushal Chand "Jagat Seth", to be the treasurer to the East India Company, and to manage the newly acquired receipts from the provincial revenues. After nineteen years work, Khushal Chand died (in the Hijri year 1196 AH approx 1782 AD). The fortune of the Seths, from one cause and another, began to dwindle away at this time. They spent money with a lavish hand, but it was the check on the income that ultimately reduced them, from the highest position to one of very minor importance, among the merchants of the district. Tradition tells that Khushal Chand buried huge money and treasure. Where this is, no one knows, as Khushal died suddenly, without revealing the secret.

Golab Chand son of Madhab Rai Jagat Seth received the title of "Seth" from the Emperor Shah Alam in the Hijri year 1173 AH, the first year of his reign. He obtained the title of Jagat Indra in the Hijri year 1196 AH. He died on the eighth day of the new moon of the month of Baisakh in the Samvat year 1853 BS. He had no sons. Madhab Rai's another son Sumer Chand received the title of "Seth" from the Emperor Alamgir IIon the 2nd Robi-ul-Awal in the sixth year of his reign. He died on the second day of the new moon of the month of Bhadra in the Samvat year 1838 BS. Madhab Rai's youngest son Sukhal Chand received the title of "Seth" from the Emperor Alamgir II in the sixth year of his reign.
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Jagat Seth Harreck Chand

Khushal had a son Gokul Chand who was born in the Samvat year of 1815 BS but he died before his father in the Samvat Year 1836 BS, at the age of 20. Khushal Chand, having no heir, adopted a nephew, Harreck Chand. Harreck Chand was born on the third day of the new moon of the month of Mag in the Samvat Year 1828 BS. He married a daughter of Hukum Chand Mahanat of Azimganj. The coveted title of "Jagat Seth" was conferred on him by the British Government during the administration of Governor General Warren Hastings through Mubarak-ud-Daulla the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Behar and Orissa, without any reference to Delhi in 1784 AD. Giving up the Jain tenets, Harreck Chand became a follower of Vishnu. Showing a proper spirit of gratitude, the Seths have remained Vashnavs. Harreck Chand's two sons,Indra Chand, and Bissen Chand, received equal shares of their father's property. Harreck Chand died on the eigth day of the full moon of the Asar in the Samvat year 1870 BS.

Bissen Chand, second son of Harreck Chand was born on the eighth day of the full moon of the month of Falgun, in the Samvat year 1855 BS. He received the tile of "Seth" from Babar Ali the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Behar and Orissa in the Hijri year 1221 AH. He died on the eleventh day of the new moon of the Bhadra in Rangmahal Palace. He had only one son named Seth Kissen Chand. Kissen Chand was born on the third day of the month of Mag in the Samvat year 1873 BS. He was granted the title of "Seth" by the British Government under Lord William Bentinckthrough Humayun Jah on the month of Mag in the Samvat year 1890 BS. He received a pension of Rs 800 after the death of Jagat Seth Gobind Chand (son of Indra Chand). Kissen Chand died at Benaras on the thirteenth day of the new moon of the month of Jaistha in the Samvat year 1939 BS. He had no son.
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Jagat Seth Indra Chand

Indra Chand elder son of Harreck Chand, was born in the Samvat year 1852 BS. He married a daughter of Rai Singh Singhee. Indra Chand received the title of "Jagat Seth", and it became extinct after his death. He died on the fourteenth day of the new moon of the month of Mag in the Samvat year 1879 BS. Indra Chand's only son Gobind Chand, inherited his father's fortune. Whatever this amounted to, Gobind Chand was not long in spending it. He then parted with the family jewels, and lived on the money realized by their sale. Lastly, when all was gone, he turned to The East India Company. The Council granted him a pension of £1,200 a year, as a recognition of the services rendered to the English by his ancestors. Gobind Chand was born on the tenth day of the full moon of the month of Ashwin in the Samvat year 1867 BS. He married a daughter of Harreck Chand Raka of Baluchar in the Samvat year 1882 BS. Gobind Chand died on 12th December 1864 AD Gobind Chand had no son, so he adopted a boy named Gopal Chand, on the 23rd January 1845 AD.
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Maharaj Gopal Chand

Maharaj Gopal Chand was born on the fifth day of the new moon of the month of Ashwin in the Samvat year 1896 BS. He obtained the title of "Maharaja" from the Emperor Bahadur Shah II with a gold umbrella on the eleventh day of the new moon of Falgun in the Samvat year 1909 BS. The British Government granted him a pension of Rs. 1200 a month on the 1st of July 1843 AD during the administration of Lord Auckland. Gopal Chand died on the 15th August of 1862 AD, at 9 pm. Gopal Chand had two sons, Gupi Chand and the other died in presence of Gopal Chand. Gupi Chand was offered a pension of Rs 300 which he thankfully declined. Gupi Chand was born on the 12th of December 1878 AD at the age of twelve in the presence of Jagat Seth Gobind Chand and Kissen Chand.

After Jagat Seth Gobind Chand's death his wife Jagat Sethani Pran Kumari Devi adopded Golab Chand, on the third day of new moon of the month of Baisak in the Samvat year 1935 BS. Golab Chand was born at Bikanir in Rajputana on the 29th November 1867 AD. He married a daughter of Jay Chand Baidin the Samvat year 1941 BS. He had four sons of whom the youngest died in his presence. The eldest Jagat Seth Fateh Chand succeeded him. Lord Curzon paid a visit to the old and new houses of Jagat Seth on the March of 1901 AD,Sir John Woodburn on 4th August, 1901 AD and Lord Kitchener on the 4th of March, 1908 AD. He was a staunch Jain. Fateh Chand died on 7th April, 1912 AD at Calcutta. Fateh Chand's only son Sobhag Chand who was murdered at his house in Mahimapur in a dacoity, leaving his two sons Gyan Chand Jain and Seth Bijoy Chand.Jagat Sethani Pram Kumari Devi died on the fourth day after the full moon of the month of Ashwin on Samvat year 1947 BS.

Kathgola House Gallery


References :
  • A history of Murshidabad District (Bengal) (1902) - By John Henry Tull
  • Translation from Hindi Note Book preserved in the Seth family - By J.H.Little
  • Murshidabad - By Lewis Sydney Steward O'Malley (1914)

Page Updated : April 05, 2013 01:36 pm