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Raja Ganesha

Raja Ganesha

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Raja Ganesha (reigned 1415) was a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 ruler of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel (Kafir
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

) usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah was the son and successor of Raja Ganesha. He ruled Bengal in two phases first 1415 to 1416 and then 1418 to 1433. He was converted to Islam by Qutb al Alam and was named Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah...

 as Kans Rao or Kans Shah. The Indo-Persian historians mentioned his name as Raja Kans or Kansi. A number of modern scholars identified him with Danujamardanadeva, but this idenitification is not universally accepted.

Early life


According to the Riaz-us-Salatin (a chronicle written in 1788), Raja Ganesha was a landlord of Bhaturia and according to Francis Buchanan Hamilton he was the Hakim (Governor) of Dinajpur in the northern Bengal. In a contemporary letter, he was described as a member of a landholder family of 400 years' standing. Later, he became an officer of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty rulers in Pandua. According to a very late authority, the Riaz-us-Salatin, he killed Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah
Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah
Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah was the third Sultan of the first Iliyas Shahi dynasty of Bengal and one of the more widely known of medieval Sultans of Bengal. His tomb is situated in Narayanganj of current day Bangladesh....

 (reigned 1390–1410), but the earlier authorities like Firishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

 and Nizam-ud-Din Ahmad
Nizamuddin Ahmad
Khwaja Nizam-ud-Din Ahmad was a Muslim historian of late medieval India. He was son of Muhammad Muqim-i-Harawi. He was Akbar's Mir Bakhshi...

 do not refer to any such event and probably he died a natural death. Ghiyas-ud-Din Azam Shah was succeeded by his son Saifuddin Hamza Shah
Saifuddin Hamza Shah
Saifuddin Hamza Shah was the fourth Sultan of the first Ilyas dynasty of Bengal. After the death of his father, Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, he succeeded the throne and assumed the title Sultan-us-Salatin.-History:...

 (reigned 1410–12) and the latter by Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah was an Ilyas dynasty Sultan of Bengal for a brief period of one year. He succeeded his father Saifuddin Hamza Shah....

 (reigned 1413–14). Firishta says that he became very powerful during the rule of Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah was an Ilyas dynasty Sultan of Bengal for a brief period of one year. He succeeded his father Saifuddin Hamza Shah....

. While the earlier authorities like Firishta and Nizam-ud-Din say that Ganesha ascended to the throne after the death of Shihabuddin
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah was an Ilyas dynasty Sultan of Bengal for a brief period of one year. He succeeded his father Saifuddin Hamza Shah....

 but again the Riaz-us-Salatin says that he killed Shihabuddin
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah was an Ilyas dynasty Sultan of Bengal for a brief period of one year. He succeeded his father Saifuddin Hamza Shah....

 and seized the throne. Shihabuddin
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah was an Ilyas dynasty Sultan of Bengal for a brief period of one year. He succeeded his father Saifuddin Hamza Shah....

 was succeeded by his son Ala-ud-din Firuz Shah (reigned 1414–15) but he was soon deposed by Raja Ganesha.

Reign


According to Firishta, the reign of Raja Ganesha was marked by his conciliatory policies toward the Muslims in Pandua. He mentioned that, "although Raja Ganesha was not a Muslim, he mixed freely with them and had so much love for them that some Muslims, witnessing to his faith in Islam, wanted to bury him in the Islamic manner." But according to the Riaz, soon after he took over the power in Pandua, he oppressed the Muslims of Bengal and slew a number of them. Thereupon, a Muslim Chishti
Chishti Order
The Chishtī Order is a Sufi order within the mystic branches of Islam which was founded in Chisht, a small town near Herat, Afghanistan about 930 CE. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness. The doctrine of the Chishti Order is based on walāya, which is a...

 saint Shaikh Nur Qutb-ul-Alam wrote a letter to the Jaunpur Sultan
Jaunpur Sultanate
The Jaunpur sultanate was an independent kingdom of northern India between 1394 to 1479, whose rulers ruled from Jaunpur in the present day state of Uttar Pradesh. The Jaunpur sultanate was ruled by the Sharqi dynasty. The Khwajah-i-Jahan Malik Sarwar, the first ruler of the dynasty was a wazir ...

, Ibrahim Shah Sharqi, with an appeal to invade Bengal. Purport of this letter is found in a letter written by Hazrat Ashraf Jahangir Sinnani, a saint of Jaunpur
Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh
Jaunpur is a city and a municipal board in Jaunpur district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.Jaunpur district is located to the northwest of the district of Varanasi in the eastern part of the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. According to the 2001 census, Jaunpur district had a population...

. According to a tradition, recorded by Mulla Taqyya, a courtier of Akbar and Jahangir
Jahangir
Jahangir was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 until his death. The name Jahangir is from Persian جهانگیر,meaning "Conqueror of the World"...

, Ibrahim Shah, while proceeding to chastise Raja Ganesha, was opposed by Sivasimha, the ruler of Mithila
Mithila
Mithila was a city in Ancient India, the capital of the Videha Kingdom. The name Mithila is also commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha...

. Mulla Taqyya gives the date of this event as 805 AH (1402-3), which is obviously wrong but there may be some truth in his statement about the alliance of Sivasimha with Raja Ganesha.

According to the narrative given in the Riaz, when Ibrahim Shah reached Bengal with his army, Ganesha asked saint Shaikh Nur Qutb-ul-Alam for his forgiveness and protetion. The saint agreed and Jadu
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah was the son and successor of Raja Ganesha. He ruled Bengal in two phases first 1415 to 1416 and then 1418 to 1433. He was converted to Islam by Qutb al Alam and was named Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah...

, the twelve year old son of Ganesha, was converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 by him and re-named Jalaluddin. He was placed on the throne under the title Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah was the son and successor of Raja Ganesha. He ruled Bengal in two phases first 1415 to 1416 and then 1418 to 1433. He was converted to Islam by Qutb al Alam and was named Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah...

. Sultan Ibrahim returned to Jaunpur. Ganesha ascended the throne immediately after the return of Ibrahim Shah for the second time. But this time, he was killed by some servants of his son, who re-occupied the throne after his death.

The earlier accounts of the invasion of Ibrahim Shah Sharqi are different from the account given in the Riaz. A Chinese source mentioned that a kingdom to the west of Bengal had indeed invaded, but desisted when placated with gold and money. Abd-ur Razzaq Samarqandi
Abdur Razzaq (traveller)
Kamal-ud-Din Abd-ur-Razzaq ibn Ishaq Samarqandi, , was a Persian chronicler and Islamic scholar. He was the ambassador of Shah Rukh, the Timurid dynasty ruler of Persia to Calicut, India, from January 1442 to January 1445...

, in his Maṭla'-us-Sadain wa Majma'-ul-Bahrain mentioned that in 1442, a diplomat in the service of Shah Rukh
Shah Rukh (Timurid dynasty)
Shāhrukh Mīrzā was the ruler of the eastern portion of the empire established by the Central Asian warlord Timur - the founder of the Timurid dynasty - governing most of Persia and Transoxiana between 1405 and 1447...

, the Timurid ruler of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 (reigned 1405–47), wrote that his master had intervened in the Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

-Jaunpur
Jaunpur Sultanate
The Jaunpur sultanate was an independent kingdom of northern India between 1394 to 1479, whose rulers ruled from Jaunpur in the present day state of Uttar Pradesh. The Jaunpur sultanate was ruled by the Sharqi dynasty. The Khwajah-i-Jahan Malik Sarwar, the first ruler of the dynasty was a wazir ...

 crisis at the request of the sultan of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, "directing the ruler of Jaunpur to abstain from attacking the King of Bengal, or to take the consequences upon himself. To which intimidation the ruler of Jaunpur was obedient, and resisted from his attacks upon Bengal". A contemporary Arakanese tradition recorded that the army of Raja Ganesha, then firmly in control of Pandua
Pandua
Pandua or Hazrat Pandua or Firuzabad is a historical city, presently lying in the ruined condition in Malda district of the Indian state of West Bengal. Pandua is now almost synonymously known as Adina, a small town located about 18 km North of Malda Town.The city was probably founded by...

, had defeated Ibrahim in battle. According to this tradition, one of the rulers of Arakan, who had been given refuge in Pandua
Pandua
Pandua or Hazrat Pandua or Firuzabad is a historical city, presently lying in the ruined condition in Malda district of the Indian state of West Bengal. Pandua is now almost synonymously known as Adina, a small town located about 18 km North of Malda Town.The city was probably founded by...

 after having been defeated by a Burman monarch in 1406, gave Raja Ganesha the military advice that enabled his army to defeat Ibrahim .

Identification with Danujamardanadeva



In 1922, a modern scholar, Nalini Kanta Bhattasali
Nalini Kanta Bhattasali
Nalini Kanta Bhattasali was an Indian historian, archaeologist, numismatist, epigraphist and antiquarian, whose contributions have gone a long way in clarifying many obscurities in the history and culture of ancient and medieval Bengal...

 assumed in his Coins and Chronology of the Early Independent Sultans of Bengal, that, Danujamardanadeva, who issued silver coins in Saka era 1339-40 (1416–18) from Suvarnagrama, Pandunagara and Chatigrama with the Sanskrit legend, Shri Chandi Charana Parayana (devoted to the feet of Goddess Chandi
Chandi
Chandi or Chandika is the supreme Goddess of Devi Mahatmya also known as Chandi or Durga Sapthashati. Chandi is described as the Supreme reality who is a combination of Mahakali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati...

) in Bengali script on the reverse, is actually a title of Raja Ganesha. He also assumed that Mahendradeva was the title assumed by the son of Raja Ganesha after his reconversion to Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and before his second conversion to Islam. But his view is not accepted by all. A number of scholars, which include Jadunath Sarkar
Jadunath Sarkar
Sir Jadunath Sarkar was a prominent Indian Bengali aristocrat and historian.-Background:Born in Singra, Natore. He was the son of Rajkumar Sarkar, the Zamindar of Karchamaria in Natore in Bengal.-Education:...

, who favour the identification of Raja Ganesha with Danujamardanadeva believe that after the death of Raja Ganesha, the Hindu party in the court raised his second son to the throne under the title Mahendradeva, who was soon ousted by his elder brother Jalal-ud-Din. But Ahmad Hasan Dani
Ahmad Hasan Dani
Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani FRAS, SI, HI , was a Pakistani intellectual, archaeologist, historian, and linguist. He was among the foremost authorities on Central Asian and South Asian archaeology and history. He introduced archaeology as a discipline in higher education in Pakistan and Bangladesh...

 regarded Danujamardanadeva and Mahendradeva as the local chiefs in East and South Bengal who asserted independence during troubles caused by the capture of power by Raja Ganesha and the invasions of Ibrahim Shah Sharqi. He, on the basis of the testimony of later oral and literary sources, identified Danujamardanadeva and Mahendradeva as the descendants of the Deva dynasty
Deva dynasty
Deva Dynasty was a Hindu dynasty of early medieval Bengal, ruled over eastern Bengal after the Sena dynasty. The capital of this dynasty was Bikrampur in present-day Munshiganj District of Bangladesh. The end of this dynasty is not yet known.This Hindu Vaishnava dynasty is different from an...

 kings of Chandradvipa (the present-day Barisal district
Barisal District
Barisal is a district in southern Bangladesh. It is also the headquarters of Barisal Division.-Geography and climate:Latitude: 22.75, Longitude: 90.36, Altitude: 4....

). Another modern scholar, Richard Eaton supported his view and identified the mint town Pandunagara with Chhota Pandua
Pandua, Hooghly
Pandua is a census town in Hooghly district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a police station in Chinsurah subdivision...

 in the present-day Hooghly district
Hooghly District
Hooghly district is one of the districts of the state of West Bengal in India. It can alternatively be spelt Hoogli or Hugli. The district is named after the Hooghly River.The headquarters of the district are at Chinsura...

. However, Vaishnava tradition of Bengal too hold Raja Ganesh as taking the title upon accession to throne.

Dinajpur Raj


According to a tradition, Dinajpur
Dinajpur District, Bangladesh
Dinajpur is a district in Northern Bangladesh. It is a part of the Rangpur Division.- Geography :Dinajpur is bounded by Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts in the north, Gaibandha and Joypurhat districts in the south, Nilphamari and Rangpurdistricts in the east, and the state of West Bengal, India...

 derived its name from Raja Dinaj or Dinaraj who founded the Dinajpur Raj (the estate of Dinajpur). But according to another tradition, Raja Ganesha was the real founder of this estate. In the late 17th century Srimanta Dutta Chaudhury became the zamindar
Zamindar
A Zamindar or zemindar , was an aristocrat, typically hereditary, who held enormous tracts of land and ruled over and taxed the bhikaaris who lived on batavaslam. Over time, they took princely and royal titles such as Maharaja , Raja , Nawab , and Mirza , Chowdhury , among others...

 of Dinajpur. After him, his sister's son Sukhdev Ghosh inherited his property as Srimanta's son had a premature death. Sukhdev's son Prannath Ray began construction of the Kantanagar Nava-Ratna Temple, presently known as the Kantajew Temple. The main blocks and the enclosing moats of the Rajbari (palace) were most probably constructed by Prannath and his adopted son Ramnath in the 18th century. The two-storied main palace was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt later by Girijanath Ray.

See also

  • List of rulers of Bengal
  • History of Bengal
    History of Bengal
    The history of Bengal includes modern day Bangladesh and West Bengal, dates back four millennia. To some extent, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers separated it from the mainland of India, though at times, Bengal has played an important role in the history of India.- Etymology :The exact origin...

  • History of Bangladesh
    History of Bangladesh
    The history of Bangladesh as a nation state began in 1971, when it seceded from Pakistan. Prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, modern-day Bangladesh was part of ancient, classical, medieval and colonial India....

  • History of India
    History of India
    The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...


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