Friday, 1 February 2013

Diamonds are forever

They are little known outside the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Yet, they can be classified as among the oldest kingdoms of the world.
The land on which their Kingdom existed is rich in minerals, particularly diamonds and other valuable stones. The rich mineral deposits and wealth drew the attention of other Kings, including the Mughals.
It was the diamonds and other wealth that led one of the Mughal Emperor to mount a massive tack on the Kingdom. The King lost and he was taken a prisoner and imprisoned at Gwalior. Years later, it was diamonds that saved him and got back his kingship.
This true incident proves the adage that diamonds are man’s best friends. Yes, they did bring grief to a king but they also saved his life and helped him get back his kingdom.      
This is the story of  the Nagvanshis of  Chotanagpur in East India. Read on……
The Nagvanshis trace their origin to the beginning of the Christian era. They say King Phani Mukut Rai, who was born in 64 AD, was the first king.
Mukut Rai was the adopted  son of  the legendary Adivasi King Madra Munda of Sutiambe village near Ranchi. Mukut Rai was found near a tank as a newborn with a cobra protecting him. This led to the dynasty he founded being called Nagvanshis.
Mukut Rai established the Nagvanshi Kingdom in 83AD and ruled for almost 80 years. Since then, this clan is supposed to have ruled over the Chotanagpur  region for almost 2,000 years.
When Jalaluddin Akbar became the Mughal Emperor, he found that an Afghan nobleman, Junaid Kararani, had taken shelter in Chotanagpur.
Akbar then decided to invade Chotanagpur. He sent an army under Shahbaz Khan Turbani and attacked Kokhra, the capital of  Nagavanshi Kings. The then Nagvanshi Raja, Madhu Singh, was defeated and Akbar ordered the kingdom to pay a sum of rupees six thousand as  annual fees payable to the Mughals.

Akbar was succeeded by his son Jahangir.  The new ruler of  Chotanagpur, Durjan Sal, refused to pay tax. Left with no alternative, Jahangir declared war on Chotanagpur. He dispatched the Mughal Governor of  Bihar, Ibrahim Khan, to attack Kokhra.
Historians say that the main reason for Jahangir to invade Chotanagpur was because of the fabulous diamonds.
Jahangir’s courtiers had informed him about the presence of a large number of diamonds in the Sankh river. Moreover, the legends of diamonds known as  Heera Nagpur and its Raja Durjan Sal, being an expert of diamonds, was known as Jahangir.
In 1615 AD, Durjan Sal was defeated and all his diamonds were taken away. The diamonds were then sent to the Mughal court where Jahangir marveled at their exquisite beauty and superb cut. Durjan Sal was fist imprisoned at Patna and then in the fort of Gwalior.
Twelve years passed and Durjan Sal resigned himself to his fate. He was a prisoner with several other Kings in the mammoth Gwalior fort. 
One day, two huge diamonds were gifted to Jahangir. The Mughal Emperor wanted to keep them but he had doubts about their authenticity. None of the  jewelers could give him a conclusive answer about the genuineness of  the diamonds.
Days passed and Jahangir grew frustrated over the failure of all his jewelers to distinguish the diamonds. A courtier then asked Jahangir to summon Durjan Sal, the Heera Raja, to check on the diamonds.
Heera Raja was brought to the Imperial court from Gwalior and when the diamonds were shown to him, he pointed to one of them as a fake. When he was asked to prove it, he requested for two rams. He tied the two diamonds to the horns of the rams and set them to fight each other. As soon as the rams battered each other, one of the diamonds splintered.
The Heera Raja then informed Jahangir that a true diamond would never break. He showed him the unbroken diamond which did not even have a scratch.
Jahangir was so pleased  that he ordered Durjan Sal to be released. He also restored the Kingdom to Durjan Sal along with the diamonds and other jewels he had taken.
Though Durjan Sal accepted his release with humility, he requested the Mughal Emperor to release other Rajas who had been his companions in prison. Jahangir agreed and so the Heera Raja was released along with other kings.
Jahangir conferred the title Shah on Durjan Sal.  A grateful Durjan Sal Shah went back to Chotanagpur and reigned for 13 years before he died in 1639 AD.
Thus, the diamonds that had led to the downfall of one of the Kings had later helped him in securing his release. No wonder, “Diamonds are forever”.

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