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On the Sena Rajas of Bengal, II

Naib-Nazim of Dhaka

The position of Naib-Nazim (Deputy Governor) was created to administer Dhaka Niabat since 1717. They were appointed by the Governors until Sirajuddaula, the last independent Governor of Bengal, lost control to the British in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Here is a partial list of Naib-Nazims of Dhaka:

Khan Muhammad Ali Khan (1717),

Itisam Khan (1723 – 1726),

A son of Itisam Khan (1726 – 1727),

Mirza Lutfullah Tabrizi (a grandson-in-law of Murshid Quli Khan) (1728 – 1734),

Sarfaraz Khan 1734-1739,

Galib Ali Khan (1734-1738),

Murad Ali Khan (1738-1739),

Abdul Fattah Khan (1739-1740),

Nowazish Mohammad Khan (1740-1754),

Hossain Quli Khan (1740-1754),

Murad Dowlat (1754-1755),

Jasarat Khan (1755-1762 and again 1765-1778),

Mohammed Ali (1762-1762),

Mohammed Reza Khan (1763-1765),

Ghaziuddin Haider (1834 – 1843).

The office of Naib Nazim of Dhaka was officially abolished in 1843.
By Babu Rajendralala Mitra

The reigns of Madhava and Kesava Sena were short and inconsequen- tial, and it is very likely that the Lakhmaniya who succeeded Kesava, and reigned in Bengal for 80 years, was taken by the Mahomedans to be the immediate successor of Lakshmana, son of Ballala,who had a long and prosperous reign of many years. I adopt this assumption owing as much to the names of Su Sena Noujib and a second Lakshmana not occurring in any authentic early document, as to there being no sufficient time available between the dates of Ballala Sena and that of the Mahomedan conquest for the allocation of three reigns, after making the necessary allowance for Lakshmana, Madhava and Kesava Senas and Lakhmaniya, It is possible that those reigns were only of a few months’ duration each, but there is nothing authentic to support such a theory, and therefore, I feel fully justified in the assump- tion I have made above.

The inscriptions are very unsatisfactory on the subject of elates. The Bakerganj plate professes to have been recorded in the month of Jaishta in the third year of the king’s reign, but does not name any cur- rent era. The Rajashahi stone has no date whatever. But it is not difficult to find the probable time when the different members of the Sena dynasty flourished in Bengal. According to the author of the Samaya Prakds’a, the Ddnasdgara was written (or completed ?) in the S’akayear 1019[1] = A. D. 1097. Ballala must therefore have lived at about the end of the eleventh century, and these accords well with the statement of the Ayin Akbary which makes that prince commence his reign in the year 1066. Lakshmana, according to Abul Fazel, assumed the sovereignty of Bengal in 1116, which gives a period of 51 years to Ballala. I doubt, however, the accuracy of the last date. The date of Bakhtiar’s conquest of Bengal is well known (1203), and the testimony of Minhajuddin regarding the eighty years’ reign of Lakshmaniya cannot be easily set aside. This carries us back to 1123. On the other side if we allow only three years to Ballala after the completion of his Danasagara we come to the end of the 11th century, leaving only 23 years between 1101 and 1123 for distribution among Lakshamana, Madhava and Kesava. The exact period of Laksmana’s reign is not known. Abul Fazel allots to him only 8 years, but Halay- udha, his prime minister, suggests a much longer time. He says that he was in his boyhood made a court pandit, by the king ; that in his early manhood, he attained to the rank of a minister ; and that subsequently he was raised to the office of the Lord Chancellor Dharmcklh’iMra[2] This is not practicable within the space of eight years, and I feel no hesitation in assigning to him two and a half times that number of years ; the remaining three years being left for Madhava and Kesava and possibly for Su or Sura Sena should a prince of that name be hereafter verified. For the present I am disposed to throw out a hint that Su Sura Noujeb and As’oka were probably the proper name and aliases of the prince whose patronymic was Lakhmaniya. Prinsep, following the Ayin Akbary, takes 1136 to be the date of the Bakerganj plate, but as that authority makes Lakhmaniya begin his reign in the year 1200 A. D. and fly to Orissa three years after, when Minhajuddin, who had ample opportunities of conversing with the contemporaries of Lakshmana, and was himself in Bengal a few years after his overthrow, assures us that that prince reigned for 80 years, we may without com- punction reject its evidence as unworthy of belief. The ancestors of Ballala from Hemanta to Vira Sena were hitherto unknown to history, and even now the inscription under notice does not name the time when they flourished. The final settlement of their dates must, therefore, be left for future research. If we assign to them the usual Indian average of 18 years to a reign, the Sena dynasty may be arranged as follows:

Vira Sena,                                     994 AD

Samanta Sena,                                  1012 AD

Hemanta Sena,                                  1030 AD

Vijaya alias Sukha Sena,                       1048 AD

Ballala Sena,                                  1066 AD

Lakshmana Sena,                                1101 AD

Madhava Sena,                                  1121 AD

Kesava Sena,                                   1122 AD

Lakhmaniya, alias As’oka Su or Sura Sena,      1123 AD

The last overthrown by Bhakhtiar in            1203 AD

This arrangement brings the age of Vira Sena, probably the first of the family who settled in Bengal, to very near the time which I have assigned to Adis’ura in my paper on Mahendrapala,[3] and it would not be too much to assume that Vira was the immediate successor of Adis’ura. There is, however, no monumental or any ancient authentic record to prove the date of A’dis’ura. The authorities quoted in my paper agree in bringing him down to the time of Ballala, and must therefore be rejected as false. The author of the Kdyastha Kaustubha places the advent of the Kanauj Brahmans in Bengal in the year 380 Bengali or 892 A. D., which would place A’dis’ura in the midst of the Palas and be altogether inconsistent with the history of the five original Brahmans and Kayashtas of Bengal. Pere Tieffenthaler’s authorities carry A’dis’ura still further back, and place him twenty-two generations away from Ballala. My date of Adis’ura is founded upon the genealogical tables of the Kayasthas as now current in this country. Those tables give 27 generations from the time of A’dis’ura, and at 3 generations to a century the time of that prince is carried to 964 of the Christian era. If there be any error in the tables, it would no doubt falsify my deduction, but as long as that error is not detected, that deduction will, I expect, command more attention than the authorities I have quoted. But be that as it may, as far as we are at present informed, it must be admitted that the two princes lived at times very close to each other. It is said by some that Adis’ura was the father of Ballala ; while others maintain that he was the progenitor of the Sena dynasty. The first statement may at once be rejected as inconsistent with the inscriptions and the Ddnasdgara ; but the second may be true, and if so, Vira Sena may well be taken to be the same with Adis’ura. The name A’dis’ura does not sort either with the Palas or with the Senas. The word s’ura is a synonym of Vira a hero, and the ddi is indicative of the initial position which Vira Sena occupies in the genealogy of the dynasty. It is stated in the genealogical tables of the Kayasthas that when BalLla established his system of Kula the original five Kayasthas of Ka- nauj had multiplied to 56 families. Assuming that each generation of the original Kayasthas had multiplied two-fold, five generations from A’dis’ura to Ballala would give eighty individuals, who may well repre- sent the alleged number of families. Of the Brahmans the total number of families that lived at the time of Ballala is not known. But it is evident that it was not large, for we find that he included only ten families in the ranks of his nobles, viz. two of the descendants of Bhattanarayana, two of those of Daksha, one of those of S’ii Harsha, three of those of Chhandada, and two of those of Vedagarbha. They do not suggest a longer period than would be covered by five generations_ It should be noted that the editor of the Venisanhara,* Muktarama Vidyavagis’a, in his genealogical table of the Tagore family makes Halayudha minister of Lakshmana Sena, to be the 16th in descent from Bhattanarayana ; but inasmuch as his statement has been con- tradicted by the author of the Khitis a-vansdvali-charitaf who would have him to be the third in descent from Bhattanarayana, and both have been contradicted by Halayudha himself, who calls his father Dhananjaya, whereas the one makes him the son of Nipu and the other that of Ramarupa, we may well reject his testimony as inadmissible. It must, however, be admitted that the identity I suggest is a mere conjecture, and I hope it will be taken as such and no more.

There is one more circumstance in connexion with the Senas to which I wish to allude, before I conclude, — it is with reference to their caste. The universal belief in Bengal is, that the Senas were of the medical caste, and families of Vaidyas are not wanting in the present day who trace their lineage from Ballala Sena. There is, however, nothing authentic to justify this belief. It is well known that a great many of the pedigrees given in Burke’s Landed Gen- try are utterly worthless, and it is notorious that many families of obscure origin have their veins filled with the blue blood of genera- tions of kings by the opportune help of popular genealogists, and we feel strongly tempted to believe that the pedigree of the so- called Ballaia’s descendants is no better. The Kulapanjikd of Kula- charya Thakura describes A’dis’ura as the ” sun of the Kshatriyarace.” (Kshatriya vansa hansa) ; the Bakerganj and the Rajshahi inscrip- tions agree in calling the Senas, the descendants of the moon or Kshatriyas of the lunar race (Somavaiisa) ; the latter describes Samanta Sena as ” a garland for the head of the race of noble Kshatriyas” — brahma kshatriydndm hulos’iro ddma ; and their testimony cannot be rejected in favour of modern tradition. Nor is it difficult to account for the mistake which has given rise to that tradition. There lived in former days in the North- West a race of Kshatriyas of the name of Anibastha. The Vishnu Purana alludes to them when enumerating the several races of the North- West Provinces, (——– ) and Panini quotes Anibastha as an example of the same word meaning a Kshatriya race and a country where they live (Panini IV, 1, 171.) The Mahabharata uses the word both as the name of a race of Kshatriyas, and that of a Kshatriya king, and the Medini, the Viswaprakas’a and the Sabdaratnakara explain it as the name of a country.* It is very likely that the Senas belonged to this section of the military class, and in Bengal, in later days, was confounded with the Anibasthas of Manu who were a mixed tribe of Brahmans and Vaisyas, and therefore taken to be of the medical caste. Such con- founding of names and their meanings has been so common in India, that one need not be at all surprised at finding the Senas degraded from a military to a mixed caste, from a misapprehension of the meaning of their name. Abul Fazel in the A’yin Akbary and Pere Tieffenthaler make the Senas to belong to the Kdyastha caste, and this may be explain- ed by the fact that the Kayasthas in the North- West are even to this day called by the name of Anibasthas. If this be not accepted, tradition shall have to be opposed to authentic inscription. James Prinsep noticed in the Bakerganj plate the title of S’ankara Gaudes’wara which, written as the word s’ ankara is with a palatal s, can only mean ” the excellent lord of Gauda,” unless ?{%-T. ” excellent” be taken as a euphuism of sankara, a mixed race. There is a temple at Kashmir known by the name of San- kara Gaureswara, owing probably to its having been erected by order of one of the Sena Rajas. The epigraph of the Ddnasdgara assigns to Ballala Sena the title of fsp’SR^fSl/lfT which, according as the s of Sankara is taken to be a palatal or a dental, means ” undoubtedly the most excellent,” or ” undoubtedly of a mixed race.” It is very unlikely that anybody would assume the latter for a distinctive title. This is, however, a question of so little consequence to the antiquarian, that I need not dwell upon it any longer.

P. S. As Mr. Metcalfe’s translation does not profess to be literal I have not thought proper to alter it in any way, except in the cases of verses 4, 5 and 20, which are susceptible of very different interpretations, one of which would make Vira Sena a king of Dekkan and his great grandson the first who subjugated Bengal, and another take him to be only a Southron by race, but a king of Bengal. (12th Sept. 1865.)


[1] ———

[2] For those who may be curious on the subject I quote a few stanzas from the Brdhmana Sarvasva. ——

[3] Ante Vol. XXX, p. 11.

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