Durgesa Nandini/Book 1/Chapter 9

 

CHAPTER IX.

THE LUMINARY OF THE RACE.


The movements of Jagat Singha after he had bidden farewell to his father, spread terror and dismay among the Pathan army. The Prince had promised to drive away the fifty thousand troops of Katlu Khan to the other side of the Subarnarekha, with the aid of only five thousand men. Although he was as yet indeed far from achieving such success, yet the news of the way in which he displayed his qualifications as a general within two weeks of his departure from Jahanabad, made Man Singha say, "perhaps the pristine glory of the Rajput name will revive at the hands of my princely son."

Jagat Singha knew perfectly well that to beat in open fight an army of fifty thousand men with a force of five thousand was out of the question—such a course could only end in certain defeat or death. Accordingly, far from trying to bring on an open engagement, he adopted a mode of warfare calculated to avert such a consummation. He always kept his small force strictly hidden in deep forests or in the hollows of the undulating grounds that exist in that country;—he selected such spots to pitch his tents on as lying behind elevations, could not be discovered even by one standing very near. Remaining in this manner, whenever he received intelligence of the presence of any small detachment of Pathans, he burst on it like a wave of the sea and made root and branch work of them. He employed many spies, who went about in various directions in the guises of fruiterers, fishmongers, beggars, religious mendicants, Brahmins, physicians, and they brought him news of the movements and intentions of the enemy. On receiving any intelligence, he rapidly yet cautiously, posted troops at such a place as would afford the greatest convenience for attacking the approaching soldiers without being foreseen. If the detachment happened to be too large, he made no attempt to attack it; because he knew that in his present position, a single defeat meant utter annihilation—that should he be defeated in a single encounter, all would be lost. In such a case, when he saw that the Pathans had gone out of sight, he kept cautiously following them, and then plundered them of their provisions, horses, cannon, &c. If, on the contrary, the party turned out to be small, he remained quiet in his ambush so long as they did not come up to the desired spot,—then when the opportunity came, with loud cries, he fell on the foe, like a famishing tiger, and cut him to pieces. Under such circumstances, the men could not know the neighbourhood of the enemy, and as a matter of course were quite unprepared for fight. Accidentally falling into the jaws of the enemy, they lost their lives almost without a struggle.

In this manner, a great many soldiers were destroyed. The Pathans were profoundly agitated; and set about to bring on an open fight with the view of crushing Jagat Singha's men. But where they were nobody could tell;—like the messengers of Death, they presented themselves once only before the Pathan soldiers at their last moments, and vanished as soon as they had accomplished their mortal work. Jagat Singha was a master of strategy; he did not always keep his five thousand together;—here a thousand, there five hundred; at one place, two hundred, at another place, two hundred. As he received intimations of the presence of the enemy, he despatched his men by detachments, each proportioned to the exegencies of the case. When a job was accomplished, he no longer kept his men at the scene of action. Where the Rajputs were and where they were not, the Pathans could not at all ascertain. Every day tidings of the destruction of troops came to the ear of Katlu Khan—every hour brought with it fresh news of disaster. Whatever the business, it became difficult for the Pathan soldiers to come out of the fort, in small numbers; their excesses at once ceased; the soldiers took refuge within the fort; and it became extremely difficult to procure provisions. On receiving news of the redress, the country, previously so much harassed, had met with at the hands of Jagat Singha, Man Singha wrote his son the following letter:—

"Luminary of the Race! I am convinced that the Imperial domains will be rid of the Pathans by you. To back your efforts, I send you ten thousand soldiers more."

The Prince wrote in reply:—

"As you like it, Sire. If more troops come, so much the better; else, by your blessings, with the five thousand I shall redeem my Kshetriya-like word."

Drunk with martial enthusiasm, the Prince went on achieving uninterrupted success.

Saileshwara! Had all recollection of the lovely damsel, the magic of whose sincere glance had vanquished this warrior in thy temple, vanished quite from his mind amidst the tumult and din of fight? If so, then Jagat Singha is verily composed of stone like thee.

Come, go we to Bimala; let's see whether Jagat Singha is a stone or a man; let alone the tumult of the fray;—Bimala alone is sweet in all this.