Open main menu

Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/198

This page needs to be proofread.

took up his residence on the banks of the Godavari, and died there in 1708.

Banda.— Before his death he had converted the Hindu ascetic Banda, and sent him forth on a mission of revenge. Banda defeated and slew the governor of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, and sacked the town. Doubtless he dreamed of making himself Guru. But he was really little more than a condottiere, and his orthodoxy was suspect. He was defeated and captured in 1715 at Gurdaspur. Many of his followers were executed and he himself was tortured to death at Delhi, where the members of an English mission saw a ghastly procession of Sikh prisoners with 2000 heads carried on poles. The blow was severe, and for a generation little was heard of the Sikhs.

Invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah.— The central power was weak, and a new era of invasions from the west began. Nadir Shah, the Turkman shepherd, who had made himself master of Persia, advanced through the Panjab. Zakaria Khan, the governor of Lahore, submitted and the town was saved from sack. A victory at Karnal left the road to Delhi open, and in March, 1738, the Persians occupied the capital. A shot fired at Nadir Shah in the Chandni Chauk led to the nine hours massacre, when the Dariba ran with blood, and 100,000 citizens are said to have perished. The Persians retired laden with booty, including the peacock throne and the Kohinur diamond. The Sikhs harassed detachments of the army on its homeward march. Nadir Shah was murdered nine years later, and his power passed to the Afghan leader, the Durani Ahmad Shah.

Between 1748 and 1767 this remarkable man, who could conquer but could not keep, invaded India eight times. Lahore was occupied in 1748, but at Sirhind the skill of Mir Mannu, called Muin ul Mulk, gave the advantage to the Moghals. Ahmad Shah retreated, and