Veer Amar Singh Rathore: The Killing of Mughal Bakshi Salabat Khan

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The Rathors are known for their courage, bravery, and loyalty which to this day have remained unmatched. Throughout the unending pages of Indian history, the valor of this Rajput lineage had generated fear in the veins of their foes.

These Rathors had donned the unbreakable armor of the Rajput code and emerged as the marvelous warriors of the Land of the Death (Marwar). Whether we look at the story of great Durgadas Rathore who alone fought for decades against Aurangzeb’s regime to safeguard the infant king Maharaja Ajit or the thousand Rathors of Bhakt Singh who decimated the much larger army of Swai Jai Singh at Gangwana.

Veer Amar Singh Rathore
Image of Veer Amar Singh Rathore

Similarly, during the reign of Shah Jahan who took Mughal architecture to new heights, there was a Rathore noble who emerged as the most influential personality at Mughal Durbar through his daring spirit and aggressive attitude towards injustice.

He declared war against the Mughals when the Durbar tried to subdue his freedom and imposed unnecessary fines on him. His tale of gallant which he showed in front of Shah Jahan at Mughal court is still alive in the folklore of Rajasthan, Agra, and UP.

He was none other than Amar Singh Rathore the ruler of the Nagaur region who gave Salabat Khan (a disrespectful noble who insulted Amar Singh at Mughal Durbar) the necessary treatment which he deserved and slaughtered him in front of Shah Jahan. Let us delve into the unheard story of the forgotten brave heart of Nagaur.

Rise of Veer Amar Singh Rathore

Amar Singh Rathore was the elder brother of Maharaja Jaswant Singh and was given the region of Nagaur by the then Emperor Shah-Jahan. His father Maharaja Gaj Singh who ruled the kingdom of Marwar from 1619 to 1639 was an able ruler and a close ally of the then Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Amar Singh Rathore from an early age took part in military campaigns which polished his military skills and made him an ardent leader. From the start, he was famous for his aggressive attitude and was strict towards injustice.

However, with time it is believed that the relationship between Maharaja Gaj Singh and Amar Singh deteriorated. Sources like Rajasthan Ka Itihas (by Gopinath Sharma), and Jodhpur Rajya ki Khyat (by G.S.Ojha) had mentioned that the behavior of the young prince was the main reason behind all of this.

Another story that sheds light on this matter is that Anara Begum the wife of Maharaja Guj Singh who had a strong influence on the latter disliked Amar Singh Rathore and it was she who planted the seed of resentment in the consciousness of the Maharaja. 

When things became worse the Maharaja exiled his son and took his right to succeed him. Heartbroken from Maharaja’s decision Amar Singh went to Mughal court and the emperor accepted his service for the empire. Later due to Amar Singh’s loyalty and gallantry the emperor gave him the region of Nagaur and a mansab of 3000.

Note: It is also suggested that Maharaja Guj Singh wanted his younger son Jaswant Singh to succeed him and when Maharaja went to Lahore in 1633 with Shah Jahan the former requested the Emperor to give a Mansab to his elder son.

The killing of Salabat Khan  

Several years went by and the young Rathor served with dignity to Mughals. However several incidents took place which changed his attitude towards the Mughal Durbar. One incident was Amar Singh Rathore’s conflict with the kingdom of Bikaner.

Around 1644 there were several skirmishes between the kingdoms of Bikaner and Nagaur. It is a bordered dispute later discussed at the Mughal court. At Diwan e Khas the Mughal nobles blame Amar Singh for waging war against Bikaner. Salabat Khan who always insulted Amar Singh also blamed the latter.

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan

Furthermore, later Amar Singh absented himself from the Mughal court which made the emperor anxious. The Rathore Rajput didn’t even take the permission of the emperor to leave or for a hunting expedition.

This type of aggressive behavior of Amar Singh gave the Mughal nobles the opportunity to subdue him and the emperor imposed the unnecessary fine of the Naguar ruler. Shah Jahan sent Salabat Khan to collect the imposed fine from the Rathore noble.

But Amar Singh refused to give even a single coin to the emperor and even said that in return he would give his sword to the emperor. The enraged emperor ordered Amar Singh to appear at Diwan I Khas.

In 1644 Amar Singh went to the Mughal court where all Mughal nobles were present. In the middle of Durbar Salabat Khan the Bakshi (minister of paymaster) insulted Amar Singh Rathore and called him illiterate.

The Rathore noble did tolerate this insult from the barbaric Mughal noble and stabbed his dagger at him in front of the Emperor. Shah Jahan was in utter shock, chaos happened and the Mughal court suddenly became a battlefield where Amar Singh took revenge for his insult and killed around 5 Mughal officers.

Shah Jahan ordered his troops to capture the Rathore but the Marwari Rajput was too strong for the Turkish Mughals. Seated on the back of his beloved horse Bahadur Amar Singh with his loyal Rathors fought against the Mughals inside the famous Red Fort.    

The Mughals did everything they could to subjugate the Rathore but failed miserably. Later Amar Singh escaped from the Mughal Palace by jumping from the Red Fort with his horse. However, his beloved horse couldn’t sustain the injury that he got while jumping from that height.

A cenotaph of that beloved horse of Amar Singh is located at the very same spot where he jumped. Bullo Champawat and Bhao Kumpawat the two most loyal Rathors of Amar Singh fought against the Mughals at Red Fort. With them perished the 50 but gallant troops of Rathors.

They decimated the imperial forces. Even Shah Jahan admired and praised the bravery of Amar Singh and his men.

Note: There are different stories regarding the martyrdom of the great Amar Singh Rathore. Some sources suggest that the Mughals killed him at the court when he stabbed Salabat Khan while other suggests he died fighting with his men at Red Fort. Some also believe that Amar Singh after escaping from Red Fort declared war against the Mughals.

Later his brother-in-law known as Arjun Gaur was bribed by the Mughals and betrayed Amar Singh. He killed the Rathore noble at Red Fort by treachery.

The bravery and valor depicted by Amar Singh Rathore and his troops are still alive in the bards, and folksongs of Rajasthan and UP. The Rajput stood for his ethics, principles, and freedom and taught Mughal nobles the necessary lesson.        

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