When his father died about , his mother moved to Aberdeen, where he went to school, and then onto the Marischal College. Grant Duff was to become a civil servant of the East India Company , but being impatient at the prospect of delay in obtaining a post he accepted a cadetship in and sailed for Bombay. After completing the cadet training in Bombay, he joined the Bombay Grenadiers [ when? In Duff participated as an ensign in the storming of Maliah , a fortified stronghold of freebooters , where he displayed bravery. At an unusually early age [ when?
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Duff was familiar with Marathi and Persian and as the Resident at Satara, had access to much of the copious documentation in various Maratha families. As is to be expected, his history is laced with considerable colonial prejudice - "Afzool Khan had all the vanity of a Mahomedan noble", "No Bramin could resist such [a bribe]", etc. Excerpts Below I excerpt Duff's treatment of the famous episode where Afzal Khan is killed by Shivaji at a personal meeting. It is clear that Shivaji had made preparations for killing him and carried two hidden weapons and was wearing mail.
However, Jadunath Sarkar has shown based on a wide variety of contemporary documents, that Afzal Khan also had been planning to kill Shivaji at the meeting, and that Shivaji had made his preparations knowing this. The next frames show Shivaji disembowelling the giant Afzal with his waghnakh. Afzal Khan is sent against Shivaji, The Beejapoor government had at last become sensible of the necessity of making an active effort to subdue [Shivaji], and for this purpose an army was assembled, consisting of five thousand horse, and seven thousand choice infantry, a good train of artillery, or what was considered as such, besides a large supply of rockets, a number of swivels mounted on camels, and abundance of stores.
Afzool Khan, an officer of high rank, volunteered to command the expedition Sivajee, on its approach, took up his residence in Pertabgurh, and sent the most humble messages to Afzool Khan.
Afzool Khan had all the vanity of a Mahomedan noble ; he had also a thorough contempt for his enemy ; but having formerly been in charge of the Waee district, as Soobedar of the province, he was aware of the exceeding difficulty he should experience on his advance through the wild country which he must penetrate.
Secret discussions with the emissary Gopinath In the middle of the night Sivajee secretly introduced himself to Puntojee Gopinat. No Bramin could resist such an appeal, seconded by such temptation ; the envoy swore fidelity to Sivajee, declared he was his for ever, and called on the goddess to punish him if he swerved from any task he might impose.
They accordingly consulted on the fittest means for averting the present danger. He sent for a confidential Bramin, Kistnajee Bliaskur, informed him of what had just passed, and of the resolution which he had in consequence adopted. After fully consulting on the subject, they, separated as secretly as they had met. The latter represented Sivajee as in great alarm; but if his fears could be overcome by the personal assurances of the Khan, he was convinced that he might easily be prevailed upon to give himself up.
An interview was agreed upon, and the Beejapoor troops, with great labour, moved to Jowlee. Treacherous plans by Shivaji Sivajee prepared a place for the meeting, below the fort of Pertabgurh ; he cut down the jungle, and cleared a road for the Khan's approach - but every other avenue to the place was carefully closed. He communicated his whole plan to these two, and to Tannajee Maloosray.
Afzool Khan, dressed in a thin garment, armed only with his sword, and attended, as had been agreed, by a single armed follower, advanced in his palanquin to an open bungalow prepared for the occasion. Thus accoutred, he slowly descended from the fort. The Khan had arrived at the place of meeting before him, and was expressing his impatience at the delay, when Sivajee was seen advancing, apparently unarmed, and like the Khan, attended by only one armed follower, his tried friend Tannajee Maloosray.
It has three crooked blades, which are easily concealed in a half closed hand. Sivajee, in view of Afzool Khan, frequently stopped, which was represented as the effects of alarm, a supposition more likely to be admitted from his diminutive size. Under pretence of assuring Sivajee, the armed attendant, by the contrivance of the Bramin, stood at a few paces distance.
Syud Bundoo, the follower of the Khan, whose name deserves to be recorded, refused his life on condition of surrender, and against two such swordsmen as Sivajee and his companion, maintained an unequal combat for some time before he fell. Did Shivaji kill Afzal treacherously?
All parties agree to the following aspects of the incident: a. Shivaji was wearing concealed mail-armour and head protection b. He was carrying the bagh-nakh and a small dagger beechhwa The main disagreement stems from one aspect: c. Did Afzal have prior plans to also doublecross Shivaji and kill him at this private rendezvous? In Jadunath Sarkar's meticulous work, reported in his s volume, Shivaji and his Times , which was widely known in Maharasthra and other parts of India, he established, based on Persian and Marathi sources, that Afzal had actually planned to kill Shivaji at the meeting.
Nonetheless, Duff's portrayal resulted in this impression of base treachery persisting for a long time among Indians. In John F. Richards' work, The Mughal Empire v. The latter used his concealed iron "tiger claws" to disembowel his larger enemy.
At their commander's signal hidden Maratha troops surrounding the site attacked and slaughtered the confused Bijapur soldiery. Public indignation against Grant Duff, verily the greatest pioneer in Maratha history, was no doubt allayed to some extent, and the Marathas rejoiced at Jadunath's irrefutable logic clenched with facts in clearing Shivaji of the charge of "the murder of an invited guest. Populist histories today In modern times, popular histories like the Amar Chitra Katha have adopted the well-documented Sarkar version, with Afzal having planned a treacherous murder, as shown in the image above.
This review by Amit Mukerjee was last updated on : Oct
A History Of The Mahrattas
James Grant Duff. Five independent states arise from the dismembered monarchy. From A D to A D Fbom A D to A D Sultan Mauzum and Jeswunt Singtheir charactersSivajee. The government of Malwa not formally conceded to Bajee. From AD to A D
James Grant Duff
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