T he 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 to Sonargaon (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 of Roy 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
SL Dewans Subah Naib Dewans Period
1 Nawab Syud Ekram Khan Murshid Quli Khan
2 Nawab Syud Reza Khan Murshid Quli Khan
3 Nawab Sarfaraz Khan Roy Royan Alam Chand Murshid Quli Khan & Shuja-ud-Daulla
4 Nawab Hafezulla Khan Haji Ahmed Sarfaraz Khan
5 Nawab Nawajesh Muhammad Khan Maharaja Janaki Ram Alivardi Khan
6 Nawab Nawajesh Muhammad Khan Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram Bahadur Siraj-ud-Daulla
7 Nawab Syud Sadeq Ali Khan (Miran) Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram Bahadur Mir Jafar
8 Nawab Mir Muhammad Kasem Khan Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram Bahadur Mir Jafar
9 Nawab Najam-ud-Daulla Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram Bahadur Mir Jafar
10 Nawab Syud Muhammad Reza Khan Najam-ud-Daulla
11 The East India Company 1765 - 1858 AD
List of Dewans :: Khalsa or Collectors of Revenue
SL Dewan Khalsa Period
1 Bhoopat Rai Murshid Quli Khan
2 Golap Rai (Son of Bhoopat Rai) Murshid Quli Khan
3 Roy Royan Alam Chand, the first Roy Royan Shuja-ud-Daulla
4 Roy Royan Chain Roy Alivardi Khan
5 Roy Royan Raja Keerut Chand Alivardi Khan
6 Roy Royan Raja Umed Ram Alivardi Khan and Siraj-ud-Daulla
7 Roy Royan Maharaja Nanda Kumar Najam-ud-Daulla and Saif-ud-Daulla
8 Maharaja Mahindra Dullavram Bahadur Saif-ud-Daulla
9 Raja Gurudas (Son of Nanda Kumar) Mubarak-ud-Daulla
10 Raja Rajballav (Son of Dullavram) Mubarak-ud-Daulla
List of Dewans :: Nizamat
SL Dewans Nizamat Year Nazims
1 Moin-ud-Daulla Mobazeral Mulk Khan, Khanan Nawab Syud Muhammad Reza Khan 1765 Najam-ud-Daulla
2 Nawab Ali Ibrahim Khan Bahadur 1772 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
3 Raja Gurudas Bahadur (Son of Maharaja Nanda Kumar) 1773 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
4 Nawab Muhammad Reza Khan 1776 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
5 Nawab Sadr-ul-Haq Khan Bahadur, Nosrut Jang 1778 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
6 Nawab Muhammad Reza Khan (again) 1781 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
7 Madar-ul-Mulk Brijendra Maharaja Sundar Singh Bahadur 1784 Mubarak-ud-Daulla
8 Nawab Shamsuddowla Khalilulla Khan Bahadur 1793 Babar Ali
9 Raja Mahananda (Son of Raja Gurudas Bahadur) 1794 Babar Ali
10 Raja Udwant Sinha Bahadur 1810 Ali Jah
11 Raja Ganga Dhar Rai 1821 Humayun Jah
12 Rai Udoy Chand Majumdar 1831 Humayun Jah
13 Raja Poresh Nath Bose 1839 Feradun Jah
14 Raja Sita Nath Bose 1841 Feradun Jah
15 Syud Sadeq Ali Khan, Madar-ul-Maham 1848 Feradun Jah
16 Aman Ali Khan (not recognised by Government) - Feradun Jah
17 Raja Dakshmina Ranjan Mukherjee, Madar-ul-Maham 1851 Feradun Jah
18 Raja Prosanno Narayan Deb 1854 Feradun Jah
19 Raja Rajendra Narayan Deb, Madar-ul-Maham 1862 Feradun Jah
20 Babu Gangadas Rai, Naib Dewan 1864 Feradun Jah
21 Babu Bangshi Dhar Rai, Naib Dewan 1874 Feradun Jah
22 Khondkar Fazi Rubbec Khan Bahadur 1882 Ali 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.

2 Such 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.

4 An 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 Emperor Shah Alam II in 1765. Thereafter, the Nawab 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-arms The 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 a Zulfiqar bifurcated or the Double Bladed Sword of Ali, which is the family insignia. The motto at the bottom is Nil 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 11:52 am