The Kunjaghata Raj Family কুঞ্জঘাটা রাজ পরিবার

The importance of the Kunjaghata family is enhanced by reason of its connection with Maharaja Nanda Kumar (মহারাজা নন্দকুমার). During the rule of Shaista Khan (শায়েস্তা খাঁ), the Subahdar of Bengal 1664 to 1688 AD, Nanda Ram head of a family of Kulin Brahmins, received the title of Lala Rai from the Emperor of Delhi Aurangzeb. He also got the privilege of keeping two thousand horses and three thousand infantry. Lala Nanda Ram Rai's son Satrujit Rai, made considerable additions to the family property. Jagat Chandra Rai, his son, was Daroga (Superintendent) under Munny Begum (or Mani Begum), the guardian of her step-son, the Nawab Nazim Mubarak-ud-Daulla. Jagat Chandra received the title of "Rai" and the privilege of keeping 500 cavalry and an equal number of infantry. Jagat Chandra married Sumani the daughter of Maharaja Nanda Kumar. Thus two great "Kulin" families in Bengal, holding high posts under Government, and having great influence in the Brahmin Society of Bengal, were amalgamated.
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Family History

The genealogy of the Kunjaghata Raj family can be traced back from Ram Gopal Rai, a Rarhi Kulin Brahmin (those families who settled at the south or southwest region of the Ganges or Rarh region), of the Dhabal (white or pure branch) of Pitmundi class, and of Kashyap Gotra. He was the descendant of Som, formerly of Jarulgram near Jangipur (Murshidabad). Ram Gopal Rai married the daughter of Mathura Majumdar of Bhadrapur. His father-in-law, Mathura Majumdar, had a taint on account of his not observing the ordinances of religion (anachar or malpractice). For this reason Nanda Kumar, his great grandson, gave a feast to a lakh of Brahmins, and was afterwards known as Bhadura Nanda Kumar, i.e. Nanda Kumar of Bhadrapur. Ram Gopal had two sons, Harikrishna Rai and Chandicharan Rai (who had two wives). Padmalabh Rai was the eldest son of Chandicharan Rai, by his first wife. Nanda Kumar was the son of Padmalabh Rai, who had five sons and a daughter. Nanda Kumar was born at Bhadrapur, which is now in Birbhum, around 1722 AD. He learned Vaishnava from Radhamohana Thakura, of Malihati, Burdwan. Since apparently he was nearly 70, at time of his death in 1775, he might have been born around 1705 AD.
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His Career

Nanda Kumar also called Nuncomar, was early appointed Amil or revenue collector of Parganas of Hijli and Mahishadal. He was Faujdar of Hooghly, when Siraj-ud-Daulla (সিরাজ-উদ-দৌল্লা) was Nawab Nazim, in 1756. Nanda Kumar accompanied Clive to Patna as Vakil (agent). Nawab Mir Qasim once imprisoned Nanda Kumar suspecting him of intrigue with Shah Alam's agents. He attended Mir Jafar in the war against Mir Qasim, in 1763. In 1764 AD the Emperor Shah Alam II conferred upon him the title of "Maharaja". Appointed by The East India Company to be Collector of Burdwan, Nadia and Hughli, in place of Warren Hastings in 1764 AD; in 1765 was Naib Subahdar of Bengal, deposed, and Muhammad Reza Khan appointed. in 1772, when Warren Hastings became Governor-General, Nanda Kumar made complaints against the Revenue Administration of Muhammad Reza Khan, Naib Subah, and helped Warren Hastings in prosecuting Reza Khan, who was then deposed. Warren Hastings, came to Murshidabad in July, 1772 AD. During his two months and some days stay at Murshidabad, Hastings dismissed Muhammad Raza Khan and Shitab Rai from their posts in Bengal and Behar respectively, and appointed Raja Gurudas, son of Nanda Kumar, in place of Muhammad Raza Khan, as assistant to Munny Begum, Superintendent of the Nawab's Household. In March, 1775 he brought before the Council some grave charges against Warren Hastings. In April, 1775, was prosecuted, along with Joseph Fowke, by Richard Barwell, for conspiracy. While this case was pending, a charge of forgery of a bond in connexion with a civil case in progress against him was brought against him on May 6, 1775. before Justices Stephen Caesar Lemaistre and John Hyde, sitting as committing magistrates. He was tried at the Sessions, June 8-16, before Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice, and Justices Chambers, Stephen Caesar Lemaistre and John Hyde. Convicted of the forgery, he was sentenced to death, and hanged on August 5, 1775.

Nanda Kumar served the Nizamat in various capacities from his earliest days. He was a favorite of Lord Clive and was nicknamed the "Black Colonel". As he was intriguing, aspiring and unprincipled, his life was not free from adverse vicissitudes. Nanda Kumar was an enemy of Rani Bhavani, and prevented her getting the management of her zamindaries on the death of her son-in-law, Raghu Nath, in 1158 B.S. (1751-52 AD). She afterwards got the management by the help of her servant, Daya Ram. This account tallies with an early letter of Hastings where he speaks of Nanda Kumar trying to overset Daya Ram.

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Trial and Execution of Nanda Kumar

The execution of Nanda Kumar is an interesting and highly controversial affair of the time of Warren Hastings. Nanda Kumar was a bitter enemy of Hastings. An intelligent and influential man of native society, he wanted to take revenge on Hastings with the support of the Governor-General's enemies in the Council, namely Sir Philip Francis, Sir John Clavering and Colonel George Monson. On 11th March 1775 AD, Francis placed before the Council, Nanda Kumar's letter accusing Warren Hastings of having accepted a bribe of 354,105 rupees from Mir Jafar's widow, Munny Begum (Mani Begum), for appointing her as the guardian of the minor Nawab Mubarak-ud-Daulla.

After some time, Nanda Kumar proposed to appear before the Governor-General's Council to prove his charges. The hostile majority of the Council wanted to sit in judgement over Hastings in this matter in the presence of the accuser, but Hastings held that the Council had no right to sit in judgement over him and particularly in the presence of Nanda Kumar, whom he described as "one of the beasts of mankind". When the subject was being discussed, he dissolved the meeting and left the Council room. Later he admitted that he had accepted 150,000 rupees from Munny Begum as entertainment money. When Hastings had withdrawn from the council, the majority resolved that Hastings should deposit the amount of money he was alleged to have accepted from Munny Begum, in the Company's treasury. Series of events took place between April to June 1775 AD, that brought about the ruin of Nanda Kumar and the stay of all proceedings against Warren Hastings.

On 23rd April, Warren Hastings, Elijah Barwell Impey and Henry Vansittart procecuted Francis Fowke, Nanda Kumar and another Indian on a charge of conspiracy. The charge was that they had endeavoured to coerce a certain Indian, named Kamal-ud-din, to accuse Hastings; Fowke and Nanda Kumar were convicted, as against Barwell, Fowke was fined only. Meanwhile, on 6th May, before Justices Stephen Csesar Lemaistre and John Hyde, sitting as magistrates, Nanda Kumar was committed for trial on a charge of forgery brought against him by the executor of an Indian Banker, named Mohan Prasad. Mohan Prosad, attorney for Ganga Vishnu, executor to the estate of Bolaki Das, accused Nanda Kumar of forgery in respect to some promissory notes, alleged to be executed by Bolaki Das to the advantage of Nanda Kumar. Bolaki Das had, for a long time, been regarded as a very honest and trustworthy gentleman during the reign of Mir Qasim, and had been so before as a banker. The allegation was that Nanda Kumar, on the strength of that bond, drew the amount covered by it from the Company's treasury, and appropriated it all to himself.

The trial went on for 8 days (from 8 to 16 June), and the Judges and the Juries remained in the Court House during all this time. At four in the morning of 16th, the verdict of guilty was given and sentence of death was passed. Saturday the 5th August, 1775 AD was fixed for the execution. Several petitions were made for time to appeal to the King George III of England . One of these was from Nanda Kumar himself and another was from the Nawab Nazim Mubarak-ud-Daulla. The judges rejected them. Only a few hours before the appointed time, Nanda Kumar took leave to meet his son-in-law Jagat Chandra. He passed the interval in prayer and meditation, never for moment losing courage. The sight of the gallows caused him no agitation. Nanda Kumar was seventy years old, when he was executed.

It has been alleged that Nanda Kumar's execution was the outcome of the conspiracies of Hastings. His friendship with Impey, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is alleged to have resulted in the "Judicial murder" of Nanda Kumar. In words of Henry Beveridge, "The death sentence to Nanda Kumar was a murder with the consent of the law". Edmund Burke in his speech on Charles James Fox's East India Bill said "The Rajah Nuncomar was, by an insult on everything which India holds respectable and sacred, hanged in the face of all his nation, by the Judges you sent to protect that people, hanged for a pretended crime, upon an ex post facto Act of Parliament, in the midst of his evidence against Mr. Hastings. The accuser they saw hanged. The culprit, without acquittal or inquiry, triumphs on the ground of that murder - a murder not of Nuncomar only, but of all living testimony, and even of evidence yet unborn. From that time not a complaint has been heard from the Natives against their Governors. All the grievances of India have found a complete remedy".
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Kumar Debendra Nath
Kumar Debendra Nath
Nanda Kumar left a son named Gurudas, who became Dewan of the Nawab Nazim, and a daughter named Sumani (whose husband was Jagat Chandra Banerjee). Gurudas received the title of "Gourpati". In 1769 AD Gurudas received the title of "Raja Bahadur", and with it the honorary post of Commander of two thousand horse and one thousand infantry, and also a palanquin and a drum. He was a devout Vaishnava. He died 1199 BS (1792 AD), sonless, and Raja Mahananda, son of Jaggat Chandra, inherited both his office and property.

In 1768 AD, Jaggat Chandra received the title of "Rai" and was appointed honorary Commander of five hundred cavalry and five hundred infantry. Mahananda son of Sumani and Jagat Chandra inherited the property and the dignity, and obtained the title of "Raja". The family property of Goaljan, situated on the west Bank of the river opposite to Kunjaghata, was acquired by him as Jagir from The East India Company. He also acquired from the Company, in 1202 BS (1795 AD), the Jaghir of Mouza Dar Gopjan in Azimnagar Pargana. Jagat Chandra Rai died in 1183 BS (1776 AD).

Mahananda's son Raja Bijoy Krishna, became involved, and was compelled to sell some of the family property. Krishna Chandra and after him his son, Kumar Durga Nath next represented the house (born 1843 AD; died 1893 AD). The latter left a son, Kumar Debendra Nath, who was born in 1874 AD. Debendra Nath was appointed an Honorary Magistrate in 1893 AD, and nominated a Municipal Commissioner in 1894. The original residence of Nanda Kumar was at Bhadrapur in the Birbhum District. He may have lived occasionally at Kunjaghata (কুঞ্জঘাটা) after his daughter Sumani's marriage. Nanda Kumar's Calcutta house was in what is now Beadon Square. A street leading out of the square is still known by the name of Raja Gurudas street (near Minerva Theatre, Calcutta).
[Location Map Kunjaghata Palace, Saidabad : 24°07'38"N 88°15'8"E]
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Family Tree :: Kunjaghata Raj

  • Ram Gopal Rai, a Rarhi Kulin Brahmin, of the Dhabal (white or pure branch) of Pitmundi class, and of Kashyap Gotra. He was the descendant of Som, formerly of Jarulgram near Jangipur, Murshidabad. Ram Gopal Rai married the daughter of Mathura Majumdar of Bhadrapur.
    • Chandicharan Rai (younger); had two wives
      • Padmalabh Rai (by first wife). He was Amil of two or three Parganas, the total rental of which might be about Rs. 1,50,000 at that period
        • Krishna Priya
        • Nabakrishna

Download Family Tree :: genealogy-kunjaghata.pdf

References :
  • The story of Nuncomar and the impeachment of Sir Elijah Impey (1885) - By Sir James Fitzjames Stephen 1829-1894
  • The trial of Maharaja Nanda Kumar, a narrative of a judicial murder (1886) - By Henry Beveridge 1837-1929
  • A history of Murshidabad District (Bengal) (1902) - By John Henry Tull
  • Warren Hastings in Bengal 1772-1774 - By Mary Evelyn Monckton Jones
  • The Musund Of Murshidabad (1704-1904) - By Purna Ch. Majumdar
  • The golden book of India - By Sir Lethbridge, Roper 1840-1919

Page Updated : January 27, 2018 05:42 pm