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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Pandit Sheo Prasad Kak “Mahjoor”

A unique conscience keeper of the society

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

It is generally believed that the Kashmiri Pandits are self-centred people with inflated egos so they do not accept anybody as their leader. Here we should keep in mind that exceptions do not make a rule. It is a general weakness that we all suffer from the importance bug even though we may be important only in our own estimation. Our holy scriptures have defined this weakness as consciousness of the body and we should be intelligent enough to analyse the difference between feeling important and feeling good by doing something important. So, one should learn to do important things in life but at the same time one should also feel humble, which alone will ultimately lead us to all round progress and development. Pt Sheo Prasad Kak realized this philosophy of life in ample measures and became a conscious keeper of the society by his deeds and actions.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak’s ancestors according to famous Kashmiri historian Mohammed Fauq were highly religious and orthodox people. As they used to worship Kak Bhusandi a mythological character and were dark complexioned so they were nicknamed as Kak.

Although there are some other views as well over the origin of this surname. His ancestor Pt. Sundar Kak had a son Pt. Prabhakar Kak Raina who was originally a resident of Kulgam tehsil in the Anantnag district of the Kashmir Valley. He had a son Harsh Kak and a grandson Prakash Kak who in turn had a grandson Anand Kak. Pt. Anand Kak migrated from Kulgam to Srinagar and started living in Rainawari. He had three sons Jag Kak, Gobind Kak and Vishan Kak. Pt. Jag Kak had three sons, who were Kora Kak, Sunder Kak and Mahesh Kak. Pt. Kora Kak had two sons Durga Prasad and Mehtab Rai Kak, whereas Pt. Sunder Kak had three sons Shambhu Nath, Sheo Prasad and Bhola Nath.

It has been reliably learnt that Pt. Sunder Kak came to the imperial capital Delhi from Kashmir around 1806 during the rule of Mughal emperor Shah Alam-II (1759-1806) and started living in Bazar Sita Ram, Delhi with his family members. Later on his nephew Durga Prasad who was the son of his elder brother Pt. Kora Kak also joined him. Pt. Durga Prasad Kak had his education in Delhi College and then joined the East India Company.

Pt. Sunder Rai Kak in due course of time got an employment in the Mughal Army and became a Bakshi to distribute the salary to the soldiers. He had three sons Shambhu Nath, Sheo Prasad and Bhola Nath besides a daughter Indrani who was married Pt. Mehtab Rai Kaul Sharga of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow . Pt. Mehtab Rai Kaul Sharga was a post master during the British period. He had two sons Kanhiyya Lal Kaul Sharga and Moti Lal Kaul Sharga besides four daughters. His eldest daughter was married with Pt. Gauri Shanker Sopori and the youngest daughter was married with Pt. Jawahar Lal Dar whose son Iqbal Kishan Dar later on became the accountant general in the Jammu & Kashmir state.

Pt. Mehtab Rai Kaul Sharga took premature retirement from service due to falling eyesight, but he succeeded in getting his son in law Pt. Gauri Shanker Sopori appointed as a post master in his place. Pt. Gauri Shanker Sopori had a son Pt. Hari Shanker Sopori who had three sons Shyam Prasad Sopori, Shiv Shanker Sopori and Shyam Shanker Sopori. Pt. Shyam Prasad Sopori was born in 1870. His son Pt. Tapeshwar Nath Sopori(b-1906) migrated to Delhi. He was married with the daughter of Pt. Pyare Lal Hukku.

Pt. Shiv Shanker Sopori was born around 1882. He migrated to Chhapra in Bihar . He had a son Pt. Anand Narain Sopori (b-1901) besides two daughters Bimla married to Pt. Chandra Mohan Nath Kunzru of Agra and Kamla married to Pt. Someshwar Nath Dar of Kanpur.

Pt. Shyam Shanker Sopori was born in 1890. He migrated to the Alwar state. He was married with Umashuri (b-1895) who was the daughter of Pt. Brij Mohan Prasad Fotu.

He had three sons Iqbal Shanker, Triloki Nath and Banmali besides six daughters Susheel Kumari, Kishan Kumari, Savitri, Kavitri, Vidya and Pushpa.

Pt. Mehtab Rai Kaul Sharga’s both the sons Pt. Kanhiyya Lal Kaul Sharga and Pt. Moti Lal Kaul Sharga had their education and training under the tutelage of their maternal uncle Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak, who was a great conscience keeper of the community at that time.

Pt. Durga Prasad Kak as mentioned earlier was sent by the British to the Bhopal state around 1843 as a Vakil of the East India Company during the rule of Sikander Begum there who was a woman of Afghan descent and became her tutor and mentor.

The Bhopal state was founded by Dost Mohammed Khan a tribal warlord of Tirah, belonging to the Mirzai Khel of the Barakzais who came to Delhi from Afghanistan in 1708 to seek employment in the court of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah I (1707-1712).

In 1709 he obtained the lease of Berasia pargana and rapidly extended his territory and founded the towns of Islam Nagar and Bhopal. He built the Fatehgarh fort and later on declared himself as an independent ruler by adopting the title of Nawab.

In 1720 he developed some problem with the imperial Nazim but soon sorted out by sending his illegitimate son Yar Mohammed Khan to Hyderabad. Dost Mohammed Khan died around 1740 at the age of about 60 years. He was succeeded by Yar Mohammed Khan whose rule was uneventful. He died in 1754 and was succeeded by his son Faiz Mohammed Khan who was a religious recluse quite unfit to rule. So, the state came under the administration of a Hindu Baiji Ram who later on surrendered half of the Bhopal state to Peshwa Baji Rao of Nagpur.

Faiz Mohammed Khan died issueless in 1777 and was succeeded by his brother Hayat Mohammed Khan who was also a religious recluse and incapable ruler. He adopted four Hindu boys a Gonda,a Gosain and two Brahmins and made them his chelas. He brought up all these four chelas as Muslims.

In 1778 the Hindu Gond boy who assumed the name Faulad Khan became a minister and helped the British Colonel Goddard of the East India Company on his famous march from Bengal to Bombay. After the death of Faulad Khan in 1779, Mamullah who was the widow of Yar Mohammed Khan then appointed one of the Brahmin chelas of Hayat Mohammed Khan as the minister to run the state. This Brahmin boy assumed the name of Chhote Khan and died in 1798. After his death the Bhopal state witnessed bad days and came into the control of the Pindaris and Scindias of Gwalior.

Wazir Mohammed Khan a cousin of the Nawab then saved the state in 1807 by taking over the control of the Fatehgarh fort. In 1813 again the combined forces of Gwalior and Nagpur attacked the Bhopal state which was defended for eight months with courage and determination. In 1816 Wazir Mohammed Khan died and was succeeded by his second son Nazar Mohammed Khan whose wife Kudsia Begum became all powerful in the administrative matters of the state. She had a daughter Sikander Begum. She deliberately delayed the marriage of Sikander Begum till 1835 to hold the reins of power. Her son in law Jahangir Mohammed Khan, who was the husband of Sikander Begum then hatched the conspiracy in 1837 to over throw Kudsia Begum to usurp the power of the Bhopal

state. The British then settled this family feud after which Kudsia Begum took retirement on a life pension of 5 lac rupees in the Bhopal currency. This way the British developed their foothold in the Bhopal state in 1837 and opened their political department there in 1843.

Here it should be kept in mind that during the rule of Nazar Mohammed Khan (1816-1819) a huge royal mansion known as Gauhar Mahal was built in Bhopal as the residence of the royal family members. Later on structures like Nazar Mahal, Bibi ki Masjid, Gauhar Masjid, Kudsia Bagh and Dewan-e-Am etc were added into the premises of this royal complex. In the recent renovation work of this complex understanding by INTACH some Hindu idols were discovered which gives a hint that Gauhar Mahal was erected on the ruins of a 11th century temple built by the Parmar ruler king Bhoj of  Dhar state in that area.

Nawab Jahangir Mohammed Khan died in 1844. He had a desire that his illegitimate son Dastgir Mohammed Khan should be made the ruler of the state but the British refused to recognize him as such and in his place the claim of Nawab Jahangir Mohammed Khan’s legitimate daughter Shahjahan Begum from his legally wedded wife Sikander Begum was recognized by the British, who thus became the first woman ruler of the Bhopal state. A tug of war then began over the sharing of the power between the mother Sikander Begum and her daughter Shahjahan Begum, which was resolved by the daughter by resigning all her powers in favour of her mother Sikander Khan till her death in 1868.

The British sent Pt. Durga Prasad Kak around 1843 as a Vakil of the East India Company to look after the British interests in the political department at Bhopal. Pt. Durga Prasad Kak came into close contact of Sikander Begu there and due to his shrewd diplomacy and farsightedness he soon became her tutor and mentor. Sikander Begum became so much pleased with his administrative acumen that she granted him two villages in Islam Nagar as jagir besides a robe of honour but with a condition that if he or any of his descendants would migrate from the Bhopal state to some other place then their property would be confiscated by the government.

Pt. Durga Prasad Kak became a righthand man of Sikander begum who was a woman of very strong character and great administrative capabilities. On the advice of Pt. Durga Prasad Kak she rendered valuable service to the British during the disturbances of 1857. Even in the darkest hours of misfortune she never swerved for a moment from her loyalty.This was ably recognized by the British by granting her the district of Barasia in 1860, which was originally in the Dhar state. In 1862 a sanad was granted to her permitting succession on the failure of natural heirs in accordance with the Mohammedan Law.

Pt. Durga Prasad Kak then in order to share his added responsibilities invited his sister’s younger son Pt. Moti Lal Kaul Sharga from Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow to Bhopal and made him his assistant. When Pt. Durga Prasad Kak died Pt. Moti Lal Kaul Sharga became the Vakil of the East India Company at his place. Pt. Moti Lal Kaul Sharga then became a Mir Munshi of the Residency in the Gwalior state. After the death of his elder brother Pt. Kanhaiyya Lal Kaul Sharga he moved to the Bharatpur state from Gwalior. In 1874 Maharaja Mangal Sngh of Alwar appointed him as his Vakil to fight a case to Mount Abu. He won the case and Maharaja Mangal Singh made him the Tehsildar of Alwar. But due to bad health he again went back to Bharatpur. He has no issue. In 1881 he adopted Pt. Amar Nath Sharga. Pt. Moti Lal Kaul Sharga died a year later in 1882 at Delhi.

Pt. Amar Nath Sharga had a grandson Pt. Onkar Nath Sharga who was the first general secretary of the All India Kashmiri Samaj when it was constituted for the first time in 1980 at Allahabad by Justice Pratap Narain Bakshi.

Pt. Durga Prasad Kak had no issue. He adopted Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak who was the son of his uncle Pt. Sunder Kak.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak after completing his studies at the Delhi College started his career as a clerk in the political department of the East India Company. The British appointed him as a Mir Munshi of the superintendent’s office in the Ajmer state. At that time the superintendent was functioning in the Ajmer state as the political agent of the governor general of India since 1832 in Rajputana i.e. from the time of Lord William Bentinck (1823-1833). But when the British constituted a regency council in 1853 to run the administration of the Bharatpur state during the minority of Maharaja Jaswant Singh they brought Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak from Ajmer to Bharatpur and made him the Mir Munshi of the regency council there.

The northern part pf the territory of Bharatpur was in control of Tonwar Rajputs who were ruling over Delhi prior to the invasion of Mahmood of Ghazni. It then came into the control of Mohammed Ghori at the end of the 12th century. The Mughal emperors made this territory as part of their Agra province.

During the British period the rulers of the Bharatpur state were Jats who claim their descent from Madan Pal a Jador Rajput and the third son of Tahan Pal who was the ruler of Karauli in the 11th century. One of Madan Pal’s descendants Bal Chand it is said had a Jat concubine and by her had two sons Bijay and Sijay who were not admitted in the Rajput clan. Having no gotra of their own they took the name of Sinsinwar from their

paternal village Sinsini about 8 miles from Dig. Their main job was plunder and loot. In 1718 the Jaipur chief Sawai Jai Singh was sent with a big force by the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar to expel Churaman from the territory of Bharatpur but he had to make peace with him. Churaman was succeeded by his son Mukham Singh who ruled over this territory for a very short time as his cousin Badan Singh invited Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur to attack. Thus Mukham Singh could not face the battle and fled away from the scene. Thus in 1722 Badan Singh was recognized as an independent ruler of the Bharatpur state.

Badan Singh ruled over the Bharatpur state till 1775 after which his able and capable son Suraj Mal succeeded him, who became a hero of the Jat power and won many battles. He met his death in 1763 at the hands of a Mughal Squadron of horsemen while making a foolhardy attempt to hunt in the imperial domains and was succeeded by his eldest son Jawahar Singh, who was murdered at Agra in June 1768. After his death the decline of the Jat power started and a new Rajput state Alwar came into prominence in the area.

Jawahar Singh’s immediate successor ruled over Bharatpur for only nine months and was followed by his minor son Kesari Singh. Newal Singh was appointed then as regent to look after the state, but his brother Ranjit Singh revolted against him creating a lot of confusion. The Mughal emperor Shah Alam-II then restored this territory of Bharatpur with addition of Dig in 1785 to Ranjit Singh, who became a faithful follower of Daulat Rao Scindia and was rewarded in 1795 with the grant of three more districts.

The early years of the 19th century witnessed different battles between the British and Marathas for the supremacy over each other. Ranjit Singh assisted Lord Lake in 1803 in capturing Agra in the battle of Laswari near Alwar and was granted five additional districts by the British. In 1804 the war broke out between the British and the forces of Jaswant Rao Holker of Indore. In November 1804 the routed troops of Holker took refuge in the fort at Dig. Then followed the memorable siege of Bharatpur by the troops of Lord Lake from 3rd January upto 22nd February, 1805. A peace treaty was then signed by Ranjit Singh with the British on 17th April 1805 and he was made to pay an indemnity of 20 Lacs as the war compensation and the territory was restored to him.

Ranjit Singh died in 1805 and was succeeded by his sons Randhir Singh (1805-1823) and then Baldeo Singh (1823-25) who left a minor son. Balwant Singh whose succession was recognized by the British, but his cousin Durjan Singh put him in prison to capture power. The British then to install the rightful ruler Balwant Singh on the throne sent a strong contigent of 20000 troops under their commander-in-chief Lord Combermere to deal with Durjan Singh firmly who was made a prisoner by the British and was deported to Allahabad, Balwant Singh after attaining the majority was made the ruler of the Bharatpur state in 1835. He died in 1853 after which his minor son Jaswant Singh succeeded him. Naturally to run the administration of the state properly a regency council was formed in 1853 and Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was made a Mir Munshi of the political Agent there.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak stayed in the Bharatpur state for a very short duration as he was called back again by Sir Henry Lawrence to Ajmer who was the Agent of the givernor general in Rajputana at that time. Major Morrison was the Political Agent at Bharatpur that time, who asked Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak to provide some reliable person at his place before leaving for Ajmer. Pt Sheo Prasad Kak then called his sister’s elder son Pt. Kanhaiyya Lal Kaul Sharga from Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow and got him appointed as Mir Munshi at his place before leaving for Ajmer.

Here it should be kept in mind that Ajmer was strategically very important for the British as it had one of the biggest army cantonments. It was a seat of power of the Pratihari rulers in the 10th century. Their king Anang Pal founded Delhi originally at Anangpur and built Lal Kot and Suraj Kund. He brought the famous Iron pillar to Delhi. The last ruler of this dynasty Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Mohammed Ghori in the second battle of Terain in 1192 A.D. After that Mohammed Ghori’s slave Qutub-ud-Din-Aibak became the Sultan of Delhi who installed Prithviraj Chauhan’s son Govindraj Chauhan as the ruler of Ajmer, which was originally founded by Raja Ajay Chauhan ruler in 145 A.D. who built a fort on Taragarh hill.

The Mughal emperor Akbar annexed Ajmer around 1560 A.D. from Maldeo Rathore of Gujarat and made it a part of his Subah. Jahangir received Sir Thomas Roe the ambassador of king James I of England at Ajmer in January 1616. In 1790 the force of Mahadji Scindia captured Ajmer which was ceded to the British by Daulat Rao Scindia thorugh a treaty signed on 25th June, 1818.

From 1818 upto 1832 the British officers in charge o Ajmer, who were called superintendents used to correspond first with the Resident at Delhi and then with the Resident in Malwa and Rajputana. It then came under the administration of the then North Western Provinces till 1871. Mr. Wilder was the first British superintendent of Ajmer. Col. Dixon became superintendent of Ajmer in 1842 during whose tenure Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak joined his service as a head clerk in his office and did commendable work in 1851 in the district during its resettlement of boundaries.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak then became a Vakil and used to go from Ajmer to Mount Abu quite often to fight the cases as the place had the Residency of the Agent of the governor general of India then and Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was very close to Sir Henry Lawrence, who was later on killed in a battle on 4th July 1857 in the siege of the Residency at Lucknow .

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was a man of great integrity and unflinching loyalty. So both Sir Henry Lawrence and Major Morrison used to give him a great regard. Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was a man of great literary taste and had a very good knowledge of administration. He started composing Urdu couplets quite early in life under the penname Mahjoor. Some of his compositions have been published in 1932 in the second volume of Bahar-e-Gulshan-e-Kashmir.

The following Urdu couplets composed by him will give an idea about the style of his poetry writing and his choice of words to express his emotions.

Maikashi ka yeh rang hai us bin

Mauj hai sagar-e-sharab mein saanp

Kaun zalim hai khaimazan dil mein

Nazr ata hai tanab mein saanp

Mar gaye hum shamim-e-gesu se

The nishan mushk-e-naab mein saanp

Jan ko apni tera cheen zabin

Ho gaye aalam-e-etaab mein saanp.

In 1857 on May 28, two regiments of Bengal Infantry and a battery of Bengal Artillery raised a banner of revolt at Nasirabad, and marched straight to Delhi. The European residents of Ajmer were then protected by the soldiers of Bombay Cavalry. Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak played a key role in keeping the village population away from this rebellion and in running civil administration smoothly without any hindrance during that turbulent period.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was a great philanthropist and a man of sacrificing nature. So, he used to command a great respect in the community. He helped many of his community members in many ways both financially and otherwise. But he had no son. His daughter was married with Pt. Jia Lal Wattal, who was a deputy collector in the Bharatpur state. Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak to continue his family lineage adopted his daughter’s son who then became Pt. Brij Nath Kak. Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak was alive upto 1857. He died suddenly there after due to a fall.

Pt. Sheo Prasad Kak’s adopted son Pt. Brij Nath Kak after completing his education became a custom officer in the state-service of Udaipur during the rule of Maharana Fateh Singh. He subsequently became the private secretary of Maharana Fateh Singh and an honourable member of the state council. He had four sons Bisheshwar Nath, Bishambhar Nath, Bishan Nath and Visheshwar Nath. Pt. Bisheshwar Nath Kak after doing his M.A. became a deputy collector and was posted at Etah in U.P. He had two sons Vishwa Bhushan Nath and Vishwa Nath.

Pt. Bishan Nath Kak after doing his B.A. became an assistance excise commissioner. The British conferred the civilian title of Rai Sahab upon him for outstanding services. He was married with Munni (Bhagyabhari) who was the daughter of Pt. Bishambhar Nath Ghaughai and the granddaughter of Justice Sahmbhu Nath Pandit who was the first Indian judge of the Calcutta High Court.

Pt. Bishan Nath Kak had two sons Brijendra Nath and Vigyanendra Nath. Dr. Brijendra Nath Kak became a qualified medical doctor. He was married with Maharaj Kumari (Bitia) who is the daughter of the famous Urdu poet Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow . Dr. Brijendra Nath Kak had two sons Dr. Vijay Kumar Kak who now lives in Chandigarh and Lt. Col. Raj Kumar Kak who now lives at 8A, Tagore Town, Allahabad. He was the president of Allahabad Kashmiri Samaj a few years back. Now, he is maintaining the legacy of this branch of the Kak family against heavy odds like a lone warrior. We should not forget here that some people always believe in optimism like Antony Chekhov who said long back that we shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga
 

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