Swat History

SWAT IN THE YEAR 1862, AS DESCRIBED BY MAJOR HENRY GEORGE RAVERTY (PART 13)

Major Henry George Raverty’s brief work with the title, ‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta in the year 1862.  That work of Major Raverty is produced here on this website for the interest of the readers and research scholars. Raverty wrote: (PART 13)

Such is the true history, and such the faithful portrait of the terrible, fanatic, plotting Akhund of Suwat, the bugbear of Peshawar.

That he made the mutineers of the late 55th Regt. Bengal N. E. Musalmans is totally untrue. They fled into Suwat, and remained, as travelers generally do, for a few days, as his guests ; but, at the end of this time, he advised them to make the best of their way out of Suwat, although Akbar, who is known as the Saiyid Badshah, wished them to remain. In this case the Akhund indeed persisted that they should not be permitted to remain in Suwat; so the rebels set out towards Kashmir, on the road to which they were cut off by the Deputy Commissioner of Hazarah. Other mutineers also came from Murree, all of whom he dismissed as quickly as possible to Kabul.

It is necessary to explain who this so called Badshah was. He was not an Afghan, but a Saiyid, named Muhammad Akbar Shah, a native of Satanah (burnt last year by General Sidney Cotton) near Pakhli, above Attak (Attock). Some years since the Akhund Sahib, as the spiritual chief, was requested to appoint a Badshah, that is to say a Saiyid, not a king, for the word means also a great lord or noble, or head man, but as a sort of high-priest, or rather legate, to whom the zakat and aceashar, (Ushr) certain alms, and a tithe sanctioned by the Kuran,(Quran) might be legally paid ; and who must be a Saiyid. He died about a year since, on which his son, Mubarak Shah, wished to be installed in his father’s place; but as the Suwatis were not willing to pay tithes, the Akhund declined to do so. All Saiyids are called Shah or Mian ; and Shah and Badshah signify a king also, but here it merely meant a high-priest. At Peshawar, one hears of Gul, Badshah, and there is a gate of the city called after him; but it does not follow that he was a king, for no such king ever did exist, any more than Saiyid Akbar Shah was a king in Suwat. It was the word Shah, no doubt, which has been magnified into Badshah, as if the words could not possibly mean anything else than a king. (In foot note Major Raverty further wrote that “on referring to Captain Conolly’s “Notes on the Eusofzye Tribes,” already referred to, i find, that the king of Suwat, set up specially by the Akhund for Dehli tragedy, existed twenty years before. i copy Captain Conolly’s own words – “The tribes of Boneer and the neighbouring hills, may be said to have no chiefs of any importance, the only individuals possessing influence being a family of Syeds, the descendants of Peer Baba, a celebrated saint, who lived in the time of the Emperor Humayoon).

The person referred to by Captain Conolly under the name of Murid Sahib Zadah, was quite a different person to the Akhund, and was an inhabitant of the town of Ouch. The word “Ouchand,” in the article you refer to is an error ; but is probably intended for the plural of Ouch—Ouchanah, as there are two villages adjoining each other, of this name, which are well known. This person, whom he referred to, has been dead some time. His descendants still live at Ouch, but none of them are any wise remarkable for piety or worth.

To return again after this long digression to the journey before us, after we had paid our respects to the Akhund, I wished to proceed on my journey ; and as the time of the Khan Sahib had expired, he made me over to the Saiyid i mentioned on a former occasion, and he also left with me one of his trusty and confidential followers. He himself returned to Peshawar.

A little higher up the valley of Saiydugan from this, towards the east, lies the village of Islam-pur which was the residence of Mian Nur, the grandson of Akhund Darwezah, upon whom Khushhal Khan, the renowned Khattak chief and poet, launched his bitter irony in his kasidah or poem on Suwat; and here also, the tomb of the Mian may still be seen.

Reference (Source Details):

‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta, pages 245-247.

The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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