Was Dewan Karam Chand a traiter? The untold stories.

karam-chand-600x425Dewan Karam Chand Bachhawat was a brilliant administrator, clever strategist, suave politician and a very cultured person. He was indeed loyal to the king like his fore fathers. The royal family of Bikaner had marital relations with the Mughals. Daughter of Kalyanmal was married to Emperor Akbar in 1570. Raja Rai Singh’s daughter was married to prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir). Thus the ruling family of Bikaner was one among the chosen families from Rajputana, being part of marriage alliance arranged by Dewan Karam Chand. Neither event is alluded to in the ‘Kiyant’ but the facts are recorded by Ferishta (pages 234 and 260, Brigg’s Translation).

Dewan Karam Chand fought alongside Raja Rai Singh to defeat Sultan of Gujarat. Emperor Akbar was mighty pleased with the strategist Diwan Karam Chand and asked him as to what he wished for. He replied, “I do not want anything for myself but want a grant of 52 parganas for my king”.

From 1585 to 1594 AD (Samvat 1642 to 1649) Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner was employed in the Deccan by Emperor Akbar, where he was Subedar of Burhanpur. Whilst at Burhanpur he planned and asked his minister, Karam Chand Bachhawat to begin the construction of present fine Fort. Dewan Karam Chand laid the foundation stone of Bikaner Fort in1588 and supervised its construction which was finished in 1593. Raja Rai Singh returned from his subah after nine years in 1594.  In 1593, Emperor Akbar being mighty pleased with the military services and successful campaigns by Raja Rai Singh, granted him with the jagir of Junagarh in Gujarat. To commemorate the glorious victories the newly built Fort was named as Junagarh Fort in 1594.

Capt PW Powlett writes in ‘Gazetteer of Bikaner State’ that Karam Chand established control over the polity of Bikaner and influenced some princes as well. The frequent absence of Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner to discharge his duties as Mansabdar was used by Karam Chand to establish his contacts at the Mughal court. This increasing proximity to Emperor Akbar was distancing Karam Chand from his King. Karam Chand had a dominating personality and whose proactive attitude overshadowed Rai Singh.

The honours conferred on Karam Chand by Emperor Akbar made Raja Rai Singh jealous. By 1591 tension started building up between the Raja Rai Singh and Karam Chand. Raja Rai Singh discovered a conspiracy against his life. The differences between Raja Rai Singh and his son Prince Dalpat Singh, prompted later to reach Emperor’s court. A conspiracy was hatched to dislodge Rai Singh from the gaddi (throne) of Bikaner. The prime mover behind the conspiracy was allegedly Diwan Karam Chand Bachhawat.

Capt Powlett further writes, “It must be understood that these expressions are those of the writers of Kiyants”. The Kiyants are written by Charans and Bharats, a clan of bards who compose poems and stories with the greatest of ease and keep alive the oral tradition. The stories are passed down from father to son. In a sense they are the early historians and most were paid to do so.

However another version of this story from ‘Karamchand Vansh-kavyam’ by Jaysom Upadhyay states, “Raja Rai Singh turned against Karam Chand and wanted to take revenge. Sensing development of ill will of Raja Rai Singh towards himself, Diwan Karam Chand politely took permission to settle in Merta city along with his family members (around 1591*), to spend his time in the service of Parshvanath Swami and Shri Jindutt Suriji at a nearby village of Phalodi. He was invited by Raja Man Singh of Amber (Jaipur), one of the famous ‘Navaratnas’ (the nine gems of the royal court of Akbar) and other kings but he refused as he had his singular loyalty towards Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner”.


7 thoughts on “Was Dewan Karam Chand a traiter? The untold stories.

  1. While you have studying about your family, you might be get some materials about two other oswal cheiftans along with yours bachhawat family. Can you give some inputs about Kothari Chauthmal.

  2. From the jist of the facts highlighted, every act of Dewan karamchandji was towards the welfare of king Raja Rai .The loyalty when praised by Akbar,this praising brought jelous in the mind of king,this region cannot prove Dewan Karamchandji as Traitor.
    This is foolishness,in fact this proves rolality in optimum.

    1. Yes, very true. Dewan Karam Chand was most loyal to state and the suspicion grew because he was correcting his masters Raja Rai Singh for various acts of omission and Dewan also tried to install Prince Dalpat as successor to Rai Singh. Hence the royal family and many in Bikaner still believe that Karam Chand was a traitor. The British Gazette of Bikaner also show that Karam Chand ran away to safety with Akbar. Its only Jain scriptures that portray Dewan as loyal and great strategist who helped Bikaner become prosperous.
      We need to have a seminar on Karam Chand in Bikaner to highlight our point of view to the intelligentsia and the corridors of governance. When I had met Director of Archives in Bikaner, he refused to accept Jain scriptures are proof. Rightly, we should have a statue/bust of Karam Chand and a road named after him.

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