The early Sultans of Bengal ruled till 1282. This was followed by the rule of several successive dynasties. Iliyas Shah (1342 AD - 1358 AD) founder of the Iliyas Shahi dynasty (1342 - 1412 AD), took complete charge of Bengal, and shifted the capital toSonargaon (near present day Dhaka, Bangladesh). He was one of the independent rulers of Bengal. His son Sikandar Shah (reigned between 1358 - 1390 AD) built the subcontinent's largest mosque, the Adina Masjid at Pandua (near Gour).

The emergence of the Mughals in northern India had a strong impact on Bengal's political scenario.Babur was related to two legendary warriors -Taimur and Chengiz Khan. He invaded northern India and in 1526 AD and defeated the incumbent ruler Ibrahim Lodhi. Babur became the first ruler (1526 - 1530 AD) of the Mughal dynasty. After his death, his son Humayun became the emperor.

This period also saw the rise into prominence, of Sher Shah Suri (alias Farid Khan, 1472 - 1545 AD), an Afghan who slowly established himself as the ruler of what is today the territory of Bihar. He defeated the king of Bengal,Muhammed Shah in 1534. In 1537 he attacked Gour and ransacked the city. In 1539 AD the Humayun marched towards Bengal to quell Sher Shah. However he was defeated by the latter at Chausa. In 1540 AD, Humayun was again defeated by Sher Shah Suri at Kannauj and went into exile. Sher Shah captured Delhi and Agra and established control over a vast region extending from Bengal in the east to the Indus river in the west. His reign lasted from 1540 AD till 1545 AD. Sher Shah Suri's successors ruled Bengal upto 1553 AD.

By 1554 AD the Suris were torn apart by internal conflicts. Taking advantage of this, Humayun invaded and captured the cities of Lahore and Delhi, but died in 1556 AD. Humayun was succeeded by Akbar, who defeated Dawood Khan Karrani of Bengal's Karnani or Karrani dynasty (1564 - 1576 AD). After this incident, the entire region of Bengal passed into the hands of governors appointed by the Mughal emperors. These Governors ruled Bengal till 1716 AD.
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Regime of Nawabs

Dewani was a provincial revenue administration system under the Mughals and an early mechanism of the establishment of Company rule in Bengal. The Mughal provincial administration had two main branches -Nizamat and Dewani. Broadly speaking, Nizamat meant civil administration and Dewani, revenue administration. The provincial Subahdar was in charge of Nizamat (he was also called Nazim, the Governor or Viceroy of the Province). The Nazim was the Executive and Military Head of the Province, and administered Criminal Justice; whilst the Dewan, though independent of the former and directly subordinate to the Delhi Emperor, held portfolio of the Finance, and was responsible for the revenue administration of the Province, and also occasionally administered Civil Justice. To ensure checks and balances in the Subah administration, the Mughal emperor used to appoint these two key officers directly. They were normally appointed by, and responsible to, the emperor. The Dewan had the power and responsibility to send revenue to the central government without consulting or taking any cognition of the Nazim.

Under the Nazims, there was a chain of subordinate officials, called Naib Nazims, Serlashkars, Faujdars, Kotwals and Thanadars on the executive side, and under Dewans on the judicial side, were Qazi-ul-Qazzat (Chief Justice), Qazis, Muftis, Mir Adls, Sadrs presided over by Sadr-i-Sadur, and on the revenue side were Naib or local Dewans, Amils, Shiqdars, Karkuns,Qanungos, and Patwaris. The Judiciary, both Civil and Criminal, were often, however, independent of both Nazims and Dewans, and subordinate only to the Imperial Sadr-i-Sadur or Sadr-i-Kul or Sadr-i-Jahan (or Minister of Justice) at Delhi.

Murshid Quli Khan, became the governor of Bengal in 1717 AD. This was the beginning of a new phase in Bengal's history, marking the advent of independence from the authority and control of Delhi rulers. Conflict rose with Subahdar Azim-ush-Shan and Dewan Murshid Quli Khan over the issue of remitting revenue to the centre directly by the Dewan. Thus the autonomy of the institution of Dewani came into existance during the times of the Mughals.

Before Murshid Quli Khan arrived in Bengal there were four Dewan's or Ministers viz. a) Dewan Subah b) Dewan Khalsa c) Dewan Nizamat d) Dewan Ton. After he arrived in Bengal as Dewan, the office of Nazim was held by Prince Azim-ush-Shan, upon whose departure, the functions of the two posts became united in the same person and Murshid Quli Khan became the first Nazim and Dewan. Later on a near relation of the Nazim, or his heir-apparent used to be nominated as Dewan,. The Dewan Subah, the Dewan Kul or Prime Minister as he was called. The duty of the Dewan Khalsa; under the Dewan Subah, was to collect the revenues. To this office only Hindus were appointed, with the title ofRoy Royan. The Dewan Nizamat had the control of the Criminal and Police administration and used to transact the duties appertaining to the Nawab's office as Nizam. To this, only Mohammedans were appointed. The office of the Dewan Ton, or Dewan of the household of the Nawab Nazim, used to be held by both Hindus and Mohammedans.

During the adminstration of Nawab Mubarak-ud-Daulla, when all powers passed into the hands of The East India Company, the offices of Dewan Subah, Dewan Khalsa and Dewan Nizamat being already abolished, the Dewan Ton managed the household and State affairs of the Nawab Nazim; under the denomination of Dewan Nizamat, and the Chief Officer in Charge of the affairs of the Nawab Nazim has since been known as the Dewan (or sometimes as Madarul Makam).
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[Mughal Administrative System :: mughal-admin-system.pdf]

List of Dewans :: Subah Bangla and Naib Dewans
SLDewans SubahNaib DewansPeriod
1Nawab Syud Ekram KhanMurshid Quli Khan
2Nawab Syud Reza KhanMurshid Quli Khan
3Nawab Sarfaraz KhanRoy Royan Alam ChandMurshid Quli Khan & Shuja-ud-Daulla
4Nawab Hafezulla KhanHaji AhmedSarfaraz Khan
5Nawab Nawajesh Muhammad KhanMaharaja Janaki RamAlivardi Khan
6Nawab Nawajesh Muhammad KhanMaharaja Mahindra Dullavram BahadurSiraj-ud-Daulla
7Nawab Syud Sadeq Ali Khan (Miran)Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram BahadurMir Jafar
8Nawab Mir Muhammad Kasem KhanMaharaja Mahindra Dullavram BahadurMir Jafar
9Nawab Najam-ud-DaullaMaharaja Mahindra Dullavram BahadurMir Jafar
10Nawab Syud Muhammad Reza KhanNajam-ud-Daulla
11The East India Company1765 - 1858 AD
List of Dewans :: Khalsa or Collectors of Revenue
SLDewan KhalsaPeriod
1Bhoopat RaiMurshid Quli Khan
2Golap Rai (Son of Bhoopat Rai)Murshid Quli Khan
3Roy Royan Alam Chand, the first Roy RoyanShuja-ud-Daulla
4Roy Royan Chain RoyAlivardi Khan
5Roy Royan Raja Keerut ChandAlivardi Khan
6Roy Royan Raja Umed RamAlivardi Khan and Siraj-ud-Daulla
7Roy Royan Maharaja Nanda KumarNajam-ud-Daulla and Saif-ud-Daulla
8Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram BahadurSaif-ud-Daulla
9Raja Gurudas (Son of Nanda Kumar)Mubarak-ud-Daulla
10Raja Rajballav (Son of Dullavram)Mubarak-ud-Daulla
List of Dewans :: Nizamat
SLDewans NizamatYearNazims
1Moin-ud-Daulla Mobazeral Mulk Khan, Khanan Nawab Syud Muhammad Reza Khan1765Najam-ud-Daulla
2Nawab Ali Ibrahim Khan Bahadur1772Mubarak-ud-Daulla
3Raja Gurudas Bahadur (Son of Maharaja Nanda Kumar)1773Mubarak-ud-Daulla
4Nawab Muhammad Reza Khan1776Mubarak-ud-Daulla
5Nawab Sadr-ul-Haq Khan Bahadur, Nosrut Jang1778Mubarak-ud-Daulla
6Nawab Muhammad Reza Khan (again)1781Mubarak-ud-Daulla
7Madar-ul-Mulk Brijendra Maharaja Sundar Singh Bahadur1784Mubarak-ud-Daulla
8Nawab Shamsuddowla Khalilulla Khan Bahadur1793Babar Ali
9Raja Mahananda (Son of Raja Gurudas Bahadur)1794Babar Ali
10Raja Udwant Sinha Bahadur 1810Ali Jah
11Raja Ganga Dhar Rai1821Humayun Jah
12Rai Udoy Chand Majumdar1831Humayun Jah
13Raja Poresh Nath Bose1839Feradun Jah
14Raja Sita Nath Bose1841Feradun Jah
15Syud Sadeq Ali Khan, Madar-ul-Maham1848Feradun Jah
16Aman Ali Khan (not recognised by Government)-Feradun Jah
17Raja Dakshmina Ranjan Mukherjee, Madar-ul-Maham1851Feradun Jah
18Raja Prosanno Narayan Deb1854Feradun Jah
19Raja Rajendra Narayan Deb, Madar-ul-Maham1862Feradun Jah
20Babu Gangadas Rai, Naib Dewan1864Feradun Jah
21Babu Bangshi Dhar Rai, Naib Dewan1874Feradun Jah
22Khondkar Fazi Rubbec Khan Bahadur1882Ali Kadir


In Robert Clive's time several of these provinces, like Bengal, had become virtually independent and several had doubled-up. Thus the Nizam of Hyderabad had five provinces, Siraj-ud-Daulla (সিরাজ-উদ-দৌল্লা) two and Suja-ud-Daulla (সুজা-উদ-দৌল্লা) three.

2Such as many Rajput princes.

The Nizam and the Dewan were theoretically separately dependent on Delhi, but in Clive's time the Dewan was subordinate to the Nazim. The Nazim was usually entitled 'Nawab', an honorific title (literally Persian plural for 'deputy') applicable to any man of distinction, but more particularly to governors in this period.

4An example was Muhammad Ali of Carnatic.
The Nawabs of Murshidabad represent the former ruling house of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. They had long ceased exercising any effective authority after Lord Clive secured the Dewani of these provinces for The East India Company, from the Mughal EmperorShah Alam II in 1765. Thereafter, theNawab Nazims enjoyed their titles, honours and privileges, largely by the grace of the Honourable Company. Although entitled to a significant share of the revenues collected within those provinces, they had little or no say in their collection or expenditure, and ceased to control any significant administrative, legal or military forces.go top

Murshidabad :: Coat of Arms

murshidabad coat-of-armsThe Coat of Arms consisted of the shield, Supporters : protected by a Lion on one side and the Unicorn on the other. A fish Argent[1] proper[2]. The fish representing the Mahi-Maratib, the rank bestowed by the Emperors of Delhi. On the top or Crest is aZulfiqar bifurcated or the Double Bladed Sword of Ali, which is the family insignia. The motto at the bottom isNil Desperandum (meaning There is no cause for despair; never despair).

Lion : Bravery, strength, ferocity, and valour
Unicorn : Extreme courage; virtue and strength
Column : Fortitude and constancy
Sword : Justice and military honour

This royal emblem can be seen at the top of Wasef Manzil built by Wasef Ali Mirza.
murshidabad coat-of-arms N.B.M.The title of Nawab Nazim was abolishied in 1st November 1880.Feradun Jah was the last Nawab Nazim.Hassan Ali Mirza his eldest son received the title of Nawab Bahadur of Murshidabad (N.B.M) by a Sanad[3] dated 17th February 1882. The Family Coat of Arms adopted was :: A dolphin argent proper above a Cheval[4]regardant[5], also proper. Below the shield the monogram N.B.M. was added. The supporters - the lion and the unicorn. The crest - a Zulfiqar proper. The motto - "Nil Desperandum".

Dolphin : Swiftness, diligence, salvation, charity, and love

References :
  • [1] Argent : In the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and heraldic badges, argent is the tincture of silver, and belongs to the class of light tinctures, called "metals". It is very frequently depicted as white and usually considered interchangeable with it. The name derives from Latin argentum, translated as silver or white metal. Back
  • [2] Tinctures can be divided into several categories including light tinctures called metals, dark tinctures called colours, nonstandard colours called stains, furs, and "proper". A charge tinctured proper (also sometimes termed "natural") is coloured as it would be found in nature. Proper was used in blazon to specify that a charge appears in its natural colors. For example a parrot proper is green, not any of the huge range of colours that parrots are coloured with in nature. Back
  • [3] Sanad In British India was a deed granted to the native rulers confirming them in their states, in return for their allegiance. Back
  • [4] Cheval : means a horse in French. The word Chivalry was derived through the French cheval from the Latin caballus. Back
  • [5] In heraldry Regardant indicates an animal with its head turned backward, as if looking over its shoulder. Back
  • The Musund Of Murshidabad (1704-1904) - By Purna Ch. Majumdar
  • The Golden Book of India : A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs, Nobles, and other Personages, Titled or Decorated of the Indian Empire - By Sir Roper Lethbridge 1840-1919
  • Bengal District Gazetteers, Murshidabad - By L.S.S. O'Malley (1914)
  • Riyazu-s-salatin, a history of Bengal - By Ghulam Husain Salim, Translated from the original Persian By Maulavi Abdus Salim (1902)

Page Updated : February 06, 2017 06:22 am