If the pages of our history are adorned with heroic deeds, philanthropic services and other awe-inspiring display of humanity, it is also stained by greed, jealousy of Indian traitors. A fundamental rule of history is to never judge history because it is an amalgamation of timelines conjuring stories of people and societies with radically different values, concept of morality, institutions, etc. However the unfortunate reality is that, the masses view history through a narrow lens and if India were to create a sort of ‘Hall of Shame; then the faces most likely to stare from the walls are those of-
- MIR JAFAR:
In the infamous Battle of Plassey that hurled ‘the era of darkness’ of British rule, the decision of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah’s trusted commander of the army, Mir Jafar to watch from the fences rather than fighting tooth and nail to defend Bengal, was a pivotal moment that swung things in favour of the firangis. What prompted the decision? Opportunism and ambition were some of Mir Jafar’s glaring traits.
Long before the battle, the British had bought his support through the promise of Siraj-ud-Daulah’s crown. In the series of numerous confrontations preceding the battle, the Nawab had smelled the conspiracy and demoted Mir Jafar. However later, the Nawab tried to normalize their relations and presumed wrongly that he had successfully achieved the same. Sad reality was, Mir Jafar only played along, when really he was still fuming at the insult and had his eyes glued to the throne. Thus, Mir Jafar could easily top the list of Indian traitors as he served India to the British on a silver platter.
- RAJA JAYACHANDRA RATHOD:
Almost everyone is familiar with the epic romantic tale of Prithviraj Chauhan and Samyukta, the daughter of the King of Kannauj, Raja Jayachandra Rathod.
Prithviraj’s court poet Chand Bardoi in his ‘Prithviraj Raso’ (a poem on the life of the king) claims that the elopement of the couple soured relations between the two rulers that ensured the former’s defeat in the second Battle of Tarain against the Afghan ruler of Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori in 1192 AD. However, historical sources suggest, geopolitical rivalry between the two was already bitter and that, the elopement might have been the final straw in the Raja’s decision to not forge an alliance against a common enemy.
- JAYAJIRAO SCINDIA:
He was among the weak rulers and the most treacherous of all Indian traitors who chose the wrong side in the Rebellion of 1857. Despite his efforts to keep his army on a tight leash, a large segment of the contingent responded to the clarion call of the rebels. When asked for a little help of refuge for rest and recovery by leaders such as Rao Sahib, Jayajirao was egged on by the de-facto power holders of Gwalior- Dinkar Rao and Sir Robert Hamilton, to use this opportunity to capture the Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai himself. In an open confrontation at Morar, Scindia realized he was misled about the strength of the rebel forces, and narrowly managed to escape capture. Much later, when a battered Lakshmibai left with little options, sought him again for help, he granted her the same and yet again betrayed her by alerting the British. In an attempted cover-up, he then let the queen escape with a weak horse. Complicated person or smart diplomacy?
- RAJA MANN SINGH
For Ramchandra Pandurang Tope a.k.a Tatya Tope, the rebellion turned personal when Nana Saheb the beloved Maratha aristocrat fell victim to the loathed ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. The Raja of Narwar, Mann Singh, became an easy target of the British’s ‘divide and rule’ policy. In return for aiding the capture of Tatya Tope, the Raja was promised the return of his lost jagir (a feudal land grant) at Gwalior. So Mann Singh pretended to invite Tatya Tope for advice regarding a potential political alliance with Firoze Shah against the British. After their discussions, when Tatya Tope, lay down to rest, he was pinned down by the Raja’s soldiers, shackled and handed over to the British.
KING AMBHI KUMAR:
The list of Indian traitors includes King Ambhi although history is conflicted in the characterization of the king. There are some accounts which claim that when the mighty Alexander made his way to India, he was welcomed with open arms by the King of Taxila, Ambhi, who offered his submission just to see the ruin of his arch rivals- the kingdoms of Paurava and Abhisara.
On the other hand, there are contrasting accounts claiming that there was really no rivalry between these kingdoms and that Ambhi was acting as a double-agent- feigning hospitality towards Alexander while actually waiting for the right moment for the alliance to strike that would end Alexander for good.
There’s indeed a lot to learn from these episodes wherein self-preservation and vice triumphed over the choice of greater good. But we are forever searching for the depths of history, digging deeper and deeper every day and who knows, we might just someday find out that who we think greatest Indian traitors today may not have been traitors at all. It’s an indisputable fact that the descendants of these men have and continue to face historical injustice they don’t deserve. As long as we continue to spit on them for their inherited ‘surname’, we are being nothing but traitors to the ideals of our nation.