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Maharaja Krishnachandra RoyKrishnchandra was a great Hindu King of Nadia, Bengal with capital at Krishnanagar.
Krishnachandra in Royal court with the wit Gopal
RuleThe 18th Century was a time of political turmoil and instability in Bharat. The Mughal Empire declined after the death of Aurangzeb, and the Maratha Empire was rising. In Bengal, the Muslim governor became independent, and Bengal flourished under the Nawabs. But their rule was short-lived and they had to depend on the Hindu Rajas and landlords, who helped them during the battles. These Hindu Rajas were semi-independent or independent. They never depended on the Nawab for the internal affairs of their kingdoms. One such Hindu Kingdom was Krishnanagar in Nadia district. Its founder was Bhabananda Majumdar. It flourished under rule of Maharaja Krishna Chandra, (1710-1783), the heir to Bhabananda and son of Raghuram Roy of Krishnanagar. Maharaja Krishna Chandra realized that Muslim power was on the wane and a new era was going to start. He wanted to revive the Hindu Rule. At that time, the Marathas spread terror in the heart of the Nawab by their constant raids. The Nawab wanted the help of Bengali Hindu Rajas. For about ten years (17411751), the spectre of Bargi invasion and large scale plundering of the countryside dominated the western part of Bengal. Bargi invasions took place almost as an annual event. Bargi is corruption of a Marathi word Bargadar which meant horsemen who were provided with horses and arms by the Maratha Empire in contrast to the Siladars, who had their own horses and arms. The Bargi invasions played on the creative impulse of the people. Even to this day, mothers in Bengal sing the cradle song to put their children to sleep "chhele ghumalo, pada judalo bargi elo deshe bulbulite dhan kheyechhe, khajna debo kise?"
When the children fall asleep, silence sets in, the Bargis come to our lands Bulbulis (birds) have eaten the grains, how shall I pay the rent ? Krishna Chandra moved his capital to a place called 'Shiv-nivash' for protection against the notorious Maratha cavalry. At first, the relation between Krishnachandra and Alivardi Khan was cordial. But things changed when Siraj-ud-Daula became Nawab. Krishnachandra was the chief conspirator against the Nawab. His policy was "enemy's enemy is the friend." He hoped that after the end of Muslim power, the Bengali Hindus would again become independent. He, like many Hindu Rajas of that time, was sad to see the suffering of Hindu girls during the reign of Siraj. He collaborated with Robert Clive against Siraj, thus hastening the downfall of Siraj in the Battle of Plassey. Again during the time of Mir Qasim, Krishnachandra was imprisoned and sentenced to death. But the British helped to secure his release from Munger.
Contribution to Bengali CultureHowever, Krishna Chandra's dream of freedom remained only a dream all his life and out of gratitude decided to help British who he thought as less communal than Muslims to the native Hindus. Therefore, he maintained status quo with the British. He is still remembered for providing relief to Hindus beside leaving his mark in another field, that of literature, art and architecture.
Terracota temple by Krishnachandra in Kalna at Burdwan upto which his rule extended Krishnachandra Roy was proficient in Bangla, Sanskrit and Persian and during his reign, the Bengali Literature developed.. Raygunakar Bharatchandra, one of the famous poets of the
18th century, was his court poet. It was at Krishnachandra's command that Bharatchandra composed his masterpiece, Annadamangal, towards the middle of the 18th century. The poem praises the glory of the goddess Annapurna and describes the history of Krishnachandra's ancestor, Bhabananda Majumdar. Other men of letters at his court included the ascetic poet Ramprasad Sen, Pandit Baneswar Bidyalankar, Krishnananda Bachaspati, Jagannath Tarkapanchanan and Hariram Tarkasiddhanta and the famous GOPAL BHAND. Like Vikramaditya Chandragupta he too thus, maintained a Navaratna Sabha or Court with Nine Jewels (men of letters). Gopal Bhand, the clever barber, could be described as the Birbal of Bengal. His native shrewdness enabled him to turn every situation to his advantage. Little wonder that he was favoured by Raja Krishna Chandra of Krishna Nagar, who owed allegiance to the Nawab of Murshidabad. Whenever the eccentric Nawab gave Raja Krishna Chandra an impossible assignment, it was Gopal who came to the Rajas rescue. Being the Rajas favourite, however, did not turn his head. He mingled freely with the common people and often helped them too. That explains the popularity of this folk-hero to this day. Maharaja Krishnachandra spent huge sums of money to promote Sanskrit learning at Navadwip as well as other places in Bengal. Scholars from Vikrampur and Bakla also received financial support from him. He established many Sanskrit schools in Nadia and gave away rent-free land to maintain them besides providing monthly stipends of Rs 200 to foreign students coming for higher studies in Sanskrit. His wife, Rani Bhabani, was also a patron of Sanskrit culture in Bengal. Royal patronage helped the development of Bengali music. With the Mughal empire beginning to disintegrate at the beginning of the 18th century, the musicians who had earlier enjoyed Mughal patronage started moving to different parts of India. Among those who found shelter at Krishnanagar was Ramprasad Sen whom Krishnachandra encouraged to compose Shyamasangit. Krishnachandra was also known for his many public welfare activities. In 1762 he established a large Shiv temple at Shivnibash. He was the first to introduce Jagaddhatri Puja in Bengal. It was at his initiative and encouragement that some reputed potters from Natore moved to Krishnanagar.
Jagaddhatri Puja in Krishnanagar started by Krishnachandra
Conspiracy Against Siraj
Lighting during Jagddhatri Puja in Nadia Nawab Siraj-ud-daula was often described as a man who was innocent and the last independent ruler of Bengal. But most parts of Bengal were ruled by semi-independent Hindu Rajas who disliked Siraj and helped the British. Without the help of the Bengali Rajas, Clive could not win Plassey. There were seven main Hindu Rajas under the Nawab of Bengal like, King of Nadia, Krishna Chandra (who was main conspirator), King of Burdwan, Kingdom of Natore, Kingdom of Bishnupur, etc. Nawab never ruled Bengal directly. These local kings were ruling more or less independently paying taxes to Nawab sometimes while at other times declaring Independence. Nawab's army was also highly dependant on the supplies from these seven kingdoms. For example, in the first war against British (1748), King of Burdwan supplied all the logistics amounting to 40,000 army of Siraj. During the time of Nawab Alivardi Khan (Grandfather of Siraj), relationship between Hindu Kings and Nawab was quite cordial. Attack by the Maratha invaders (Bargi) was common ground to be united. While fighting against one of such invasion against Bargi, Alivardi was running away after losing a battle in Bihar. He was abandoned by all of his Generals.
However, one small group leader (Mansabdar) didn't leave him. This man was Mirjafar. Strange as it sounds, upon return to Murshidabad, Alivardi elevated Mirjafar to be one of his main General, as a reward for his loyalty and faithfulness. Mir Jafar was a devoted Muslim. He was very loyal and honest to Alivardi. Later on, he was married to the Nawab family. Problem started during the time of Siraj. Several times Siraj expressed dissatisfaction that he had to depend on Hindus for any kind of financing and he predicted that these Kafirs would betray him one day . Besides, his forced abduction of any Hindu woman was a matter of great concern among the Hindus as he even didn't spare the noble families. He abducted daughterin-law of Jagat Seths elder brother (Manik Chand). However, he was vehemently opposed by Mirjafar who was a man of moral character and finally had to abandon the abduction. Maharani of Natore had a beautiful widow daughter. When she was visiting her palace in Murshidabad, Siraj got a glimpse of her daughter's beauty. He immediately sent his army to capture her. However, the news was leaked and Maharani's widow daughter was evacuated in the disguise of a dead woman. Jagat Seth never wanted to help the British against Siraj as his main business was financing and banking. He knew once British East India Company would get their grip, he would be knocked out from the business. His business was indeed ruined by the company, later. But, after the abduction of daughter-in-law of his family, he had no choice but to agree to Raja Krishnachandra Roy. The latter also communicated with Rani Bhabani of Natore and King of Burdwan. In his letters, Maharaja Krishna Chandra appealed to the Hindu Kings of Bengal to protect the Santana Dharma from the tyrant Siraj. Siraj knew that the Hindu Kings , on whom Alivardi depended during the Maratha raids, were no longer on his side and Clive also asked their help as otherwise he could not defeat Siraj. In his letters to The East India Company Senate, Clive mentioned that Hindu kings turned hostile against Siraj and they would help in any attempt to depose him. Clive also mentioned that Hindu kings were greatly worried about their "Dharma" under Nawab's rule. We know that Robert Clive rested in the palace of Krishna Chandra on his way to Plassey. We also know that Clive later helped Krishna Chandra in many ways against Mir Qasim and uprooted the Nawab rule totally with his help. Thus the conspiracy of the Hindu royals of Bengal brought the downfall of the Muslim Nawab. The Hindus knew that British Rule was better than Muslim Rule, and the British acted as the "unconscious tools of history." Without the help of the British, the Hindus of Bengal could not become free from Islamic bondage at