The History of Sowae Singh
and Raja Maun

(by Brig. A. Mason, M.C., R.E.)


Sowae (Singh) of Pokwura, in the desert over 80 miles north-west of Jodhpur, made elaborate plans in 1804 to replace Raja Maun, who had just become Raja of Marwar. He took charge of a small child whom he called Dhonkul and said he was the posthumous son of Bheem Singh, a cousin of the late Raja Bejysingh and of Maun Singh, who had been on the throne for a short time. When Maun Singh was told of the child he promised to grant him Nagaur and another town for his maintenance; but the reputed mother disclaimed the boy, who was then sent out of the State for safety. He was then taken to Jaipur, where he was accepted as legitimate and the rightful heir to Marwar. Bikanir also came to his support and Raja Maun manned his frontiers which were being threatened by large numbers, while he was supported by Holkar (from Indore) and some of the Mahrathas whom he had helped against Lord Lake, by protecting the former’s family.

But a bribe from Sowae Singh made the Mahrathas halt at Motah, and Maun was left with four supporting chiefs only, but Bundi came to help him and some Moslems in his pay enabled him to retire to his capital from the north. Jodhpur had few defences and the siege began with a garrison of 5,000 dependable men. He was, however, suspicious, and further helpers were told to defend the town when they arrived but not allowed in the castle. The town was sacked and Phalodi handed over to Bikanir after a siege of three months. A breach was blown in the castle defences, but it was too high to be scaled and the siege continued until the attacking troops began to ask for pay and food. A Moslem leader named Amir Khan also copied the Maratha practice in demanding money from the countryside. Amber also had an empty treasury and when Sowae Singh asked for help, his demands for loans drove others to join Amir Khan in support of Raja Maun. They also decided that it was a good time to attack Jaipur, but were driven across the Luni River.

When the Commander of the Jaipur forces retired to the capital to attend the marriage festivities of his master, Amir Khan followed him and reached the city gates and the confederacy dissolved, and the siege of Jodhpur broke up. The Marathas were bribed not to act against the Jaipur retreat, but the Rahtores did so and Amir Khan received a loan from Kishengarh State, also held by Rahtores. With Jaipur defeated and Amir Khan concentrated at Jodhpur with his other supporter, Raja Maun should have been safe. But he again became suspicious and Amir Khan, when sounded by Sowae Singh, pretended to change sides. The next day, however, at an entertainment given by Amir Khan, Sowae and his officers were murdered and his stores taken to Sambhar (or Sambur). Amir Khan then received a large sum in payment from Jodhpur and was obviously dominant in the area, a position which rendered all Rajputs unhappy and Raja Maun went into retirement and appeared either to have lost his reason or to be acting as if he wished that to be presumed. He shut himself up and named his only son, Chuttur Singh, as his successor, while Salim Singh, the son of Sowae Singh, acted as head of the Government.

In 1817 the Rajputs were invited to break with the Marathas and Moslems and join the British in establishing order. Envoys acting for Raja Maun were sent to Delhi, the son of Raja Maun was to have gone, but died and as he had only one son he was unable to send another, asked for to take the lead of the rival faction of Pokaran. When the treaty with the British was completed the Raja disapproved of some of it, but a British envoy was sent to Raja Maun during the next year. The state was in an unhappy position and the Raja was still suspicious and averse to taking action to improve it. The Moslems from the west were unpaid and reduced to begging and the Agent left before this could be dealt with.

Tod here becomes impersonal, but this was the time when he became sole agent to five of the states concerned, though not to Admir, Jaipur or Bikanir. He summarised the outstanding problems as administration, finance and crown lands, foreign troops, police and customs duties which were too heavy.


©A Mason 2008 All rights reserved