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АРМЯНСКИЕ ИСТОЧНИКИ XVIII В. ОБ ИНДИИ
R. A. ABRAHAMIAN
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ARMENIAN SOURCES ON INDIA
The mutual economic, cultural and scientific relations and ties between Armenians and Indians are of long standing. They originate before our era and continue in our own days. They intensified as the first Armenian settlers set foot on the hospitable land of India where they won the affection and respect of the Indian people and presently began to enjoy the patronage of the local authorities.
It is but natural that this age-old friendship and relationship should be reflected in Armenian historiography and sources of origin. Manuscripts in profusion on the history of India and the Armeno-Indian relations have been preserved in the repositories and archives of Armenian manuscripts and documents in Yerevan, Venice, Vienna, Jerusalem, New Julfa and other cities. Those unpublished writings have not so far been handled for special study. To be more precise, the present publication deals for the first time with the sources relating to the history of India. A number of problems on the relationship of the Armenians and the Indians are touched upon in outlines of the history of the Armenian people or in writings treating of Armenian communities in India.
In this respect the works of the following authors are worthy of mention: Seth (Setian), Harutyun Ter-Hovnanian, Ghevond Alishan, Prof. Leo, archbishop Torgom Kushakian, S. V. Ter-Avetissian, academician A. B. Karinian, Arshak Alboyajian and others.
The foregoing studies are as interesting as valuable, yet they shed light only on one aspect of the problem under discussion. In them the Armenian sources are very infrequently referred to as far as the above-named problem is concerned. In almost all of those works the history of the Armenian communities in India and the Armeno-Indian relations are viewed independently of the history of the political and economic life in India.
Despite the multitude of evidence, both hand-written and archival, on the issue, their bulk is not as yet published while some of them, written in classical Armenian, have sunk into oblivion.
Unfortunately, no reference list or any other similar work is available as yet that might include the more significant Armenian sources on India and Armeno-Indian relations with a collation of the classical Armenian texts with the Russian translations. A task of that magnitude would prove not only of inestimable value to the history of India but would alike lay bare, to a great measure, some perversions of historical truth by bourgeois and particularly by English historians who have approached the matter from colonial standpoint.
It is common knowledge that many representatives of old and modern English and West-European historiography seek to picture in their publications the colonial conquest of India as an illustration of peaceful intentions. They professedly claim that the English had gone to India as mere merchants, and that distrubances had hindered their trade. They conclude therefore that those trades-
people had been compelled to take the reins of power into their hands and bring law and order to India.
The bourgeois historians qualify the liberation movement of the Indians as a rebellion against the Europeans, as fanaticism and barbarism and praise, on the other hand, the oppressors of the Indian people, presenting the brutal acts of the Europeans as „defence of the legitimate rights and property of the tradesmen".
The English bourgeois historians are out in their efforts to convince that the colonial countries including India and her people had from the start put up with colonialism and were even profoundly grateful to it for the civilising mission it carried. In fact British rule over the people of India resulted in abject poverty and recurrent starvation that took away millions of lives, kept the people in a state of total illiteracy and the like.
The peoples of India would never submit to the enslavement of their motherland. From the very first inroads of Europeans into their country they put up a heroic and stiff resistance to the invaders.
The Armenian sources, especially those under study, are diametrically opposed to the English sources. They tell us of numerous interesting instances of the heroic struggle that the people of India waged against British and other colonisers from the very first day of the country's conquest. They also truthfully picture the exploitation of the people together with the terrific consequences. The Armenian sources assist in repudiating the so-called civilising role of the colonisers as claimed by British bourgeois historiography. Thus the Armenian chronicles; present a true picture of a number of issues on Indian history.
Furthermore, they give a clear idea of the more than 200 year-old friendly ties of the Armenian and Indian peoples. They betoken the identity of culture, language,
mythology, creative endeavours that have brought the two peoples together. No trace is to be found in those sources and chronicles that would hint at some hostility or conflict between those two peoples.
An investigation of the Armenian sources and chronicles on India and the Armeno-Indian relations would also considerably promote the study of the long-standing bonds between the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and those of India and thereby further the friendly feelings that exist between the two great peoples today.
We have accordingly entitled our book: „Armenian sources on India and Armeno-Indian relations in the 18th Century" (a. „A History of India" by T. Khojamalian: b. „The Biography of Hyder Ali" by Hakop Simonian).
We have picked out those evidences among others not only because the existing rare printed copies of those sources in classical Armenian preserved in the museums of the U.S.S.R. and remaining so far untranslated into other languages, have not won recognition in the world of science and are not as yet made the object of special study. We have been guided also by other motives in making the choice: the former almost entirely and the latter substantially deal with the heroic struggle of the Indian peoples against British colonisers.
To give a fuller notion of „A History of India" and „The Biography of Hyder Ali" the author has translated, in addition to an historic analysis and investigation, both texts from classical Armenian (Grabar) into Russian. They have not been translated into other languages and are rendered into Russian for the first time.
The author has also sought to restore, as far as possible, the correct orthography in the classical Armenian text and rectify the lexical distortions so as to offer the reader the accurate text, the closest to the original.
We thought it necessary to correct in the Russian
translation certain proper and geographical names and point to the obvious mistakes some of which are made, in all probability, not by the authors themselves but by the scribes or publishers. All such cases are mentioned in the references.
The proper and geographical names in the classical Armenian texts are preserved as they are written by the authors themselves whereas the footnotes and remarks of the Russian translation are reproduced in modern orthography.
The major designations, geographical denominations and terms are elucidated in remarks and notes.
The First Chapter of the present publication treats of the Armeno-Indian relations from ancient times to the 18th centuny.
The Armeno-Indian economic, cultural and scientific relations go deep into the past. Being situated on the cross-roads of caravan routes between the East and the West, Armenia had achieved cultural and economic ties with India before our era.
The long distance, the split up of India into various kingdoms and princedoms and the subsequent loss of sovereignty of the Armenian state could not possibly lead to the conclusion of a political alliance between Armenia and India. These were, in the main, contacts of economic nature. According to both Armenian and foreign sources the Armenian towns of Artashat, Metsbin, Dvin and others were, in the Middle Ages, centres of barter with India. The information at hand points to the fact that the journeys were mutual.
The chief items of Indian export to Armenia were: precious stones, medicinal herbs and substances. The Armenians exported to India largely coloured hides and various dyes.
The Armeno-Indian trade relations continued also in the succeeding centuries. They strenghtened and acquired a new quality; the visits of Armenians to India grew in number as the first Armenian colonies began to appear on the hospitable Indian soil. Until recently the emergence of the first Armenian settlements in India was dated back to the 17th century. Fresh evidence shows that one of the first Armenian communities to spring into existence on the Malabar coast of India was as far back as the 7th century.
During the 16th—17th centuries regular Armenian communities were already in existence particularly in the coastal towns of India. They had won the affection and respect of the Indian people and enjoyed the patronage of the local authorities.
Emigration of Armenians from their native country meant, during the 17th—18th centuries, the setting up of Armenian colonies in India. As time went by they multiplied in number, and the part the Armenians began to play in Indian life grew more significant. The Armenians adapted themselves in the 18th century to the new historic conditions, consolidated the old communities and contributed to the emergence of new settlements in India. This process was also measurably fostered by the rulers of Moghul India. They often persuaded the Indian Armenians to invite to India their kinsmen artisans and merchants from Persia and Armenia.
It is but natural that these time-honoured amicable relations and friendship should be reflected in Armenian historiography and sources of origin since days past.
This chapter of the author's book also handles the motives that prompted the Indian Armenians to allign with the Indians against the British colonisers. The chapter is based largely on fresh data.
The Armenians were thoroughly familiar with all the
corners of India long before the Europeans had set foot on the soil of that country. It was the Armenians who had preceded the English in being the principal representatives of Indian export. They carried on extensive trade with nearly all the major countries of Europe and Asia. The representatives of the East India Company studied the trade methods of Armenian merchants. Realising the position and connections of Armenians in India they were at great pains to make the most of those bonds. The importance and the wide range of activities of the Armenians confined at the same time the possibilities of European investments in Indian trade. Therefore the Europeans tried to limit somehow the activities of the Armenians in India. In the initial stage the European merchants were in no position to oust the Armenians by force. There remained one way open—to win over the Armenian merchants to their side and gradually take control of their activities.
With this aim in mind the English struck in 1688 an agreement with part of the Indian Armenians entitling the latter to the rights of British subjects and to great privileges over the territory of the English East India Company.
The condition of almost all the section of the Armenian population in India sharply deteriorated following the penetration into and the subsequent conquest of India by the Europeans, especially in areas where the English began to play the master. The first heavy blow was dealt at the Armenian merchants and artisans. At first by peaceful competition but then forcefully they were ousted from the Indian markets over a short period. The Armenian merchants, artisans and other related sections of the Armenian population succumbed to a hard economic plight.
Individual Armenian merchants, artisans or small „companies" of Armenians could not, naturally, stand the power of the East European Company. The Company's
commercial and economic operations would often result in bloody expeditions and onslaughts.
The author produces a number of new facts indicating the speedy worsening of the condition of the Armenians as from the mid-eighteenth century, despite the generous promises and the solemn oath to abide by the 1668 agreement of the Armenians and the English East India Company that entitled the Armenians to all the rights of British subjects over the territory of the East-India Company. In the meantime the English had already got a firm footing in India and were in no need of their Armenian „allies".
The English began ever since not only to oust the Armenians as their rivals in trade but they took to outright persecution: the Armenians were sentenced, thrown into prison, their goods taken away and their merchant vessels confiscated.
The Armenians in India were not only dealers and wealthy men, however. The Armenian communities consisted basically of petty traders, artisans, various employees, workmen etc. The bulk of the Armenian community lived together with the working people of India in the same economic and political conditions, sharing the joy and sorrow of their life. That is why they would side with the Indian people in fighting the colonisers.
Coming out against the English the primary concern of the Armenians was their own interests. Indian history contains many a record of joint Armenian and Indian armed struggle against the English. Yet the brightest page of joint struggle remains certainly the part of the Armenians in the anti-British uprising of Mir Kassim. Referring to the participation of the Armenians in the anticolonial struggle one should not unduly infer that anti-British feelings ran high with all the Armenians and therefore all
of them rose up, as one man, against British rule. There were Armenians who were of positively pro-British orientation and defended British interests. But those Armenians were well-to-do merchants who formed a negligible percentage of the Armenia population in India.
The Second Chapter of the book examines the Armenian sources on India and Armeno-Indlan relations,
The author splits into two the information available on India, the Indians and the Armeno-Indian relations traceable in the Armenian sources of origin: the first part comprises data recorded by Armenian historians and chroniclers in connection with the general history of the Armenian people. In them India is depicted in an outline; for the most part they comprise unconnected facts. The authors have not themselves been to India. They have taken down in the main the gossip of their compatriots who had visited India or had had recourse to older Armenian sources. Nevertheless these sources convey a concrete and fairly clear idea of India. Here lies the main proof of the close and definite relations of the two countries. The facts those sources disclose are of value inasmuch as they testify to the old-time trade relations of the two countries. Particular mention of those Armenian sources deserve the writings of Agatangueghos (5th c), Movses Khorenatsi (5th c), Yeghise (5th c), Yeznik Koghbatsi (5th c), Abraham Khostovanogh (6th c), David Anhaght (6th c), bishop Sebeos (7th a), Movses Kagankatvatsi (7th c), Stepanos Asoghik(10th 11th centuries), Tovma Artsruni (10th c), Aristakes Lastivertsi (11th c), Matevos Ourkhayetsi (10th—11th centuries), Vartan Areveltsi (13th c), Stepanos Orbelian (13th c), Vartan Ayguetsi (12th—13th centuries), Grigor Daranakhetsi (16th— 18th centuries), Arakel Darvizhetsi (18th c), Zakaria Akuletsi (18th c), Khachatour Joughayetsi (18th c.) and others.
The second group of Armenian sources sharply differs from the first. In it India and the Indians are made the object of special study; and the investigator should find there invaluable authentic information both on the history, economic and commercial life and culture of India and on Armeno-Indian relations. The authors of those studies have turned to reliable sources, at times being witness to or a participant of the events they have described.
„The History of Taron" attributed to Zenob Glak (4th c.) should be singled out for mention; this writing descants on the Armenian community in India, now with a history of more than 400 years. The measure of importance attached to India in Armenia during the 4th —7th centuries can be judged of by Ananya Shirakatsi's geography, a 7th century author. He assigns India a leading place in his book. Interesting materials on India and Armeno-Indian relations in the late old centuries can also be found in Armenian manuscripts that have either been unpublished or were done so a long while ago and are quite forgotten now.
An analogous writing is the geographical text written in classical Armenian (12th c), entitled „Names of Indian and Persian Cities". It becomes quite clear from its contents that the author is thoroughly familiar with India.
The Armenian sources on the history of India assume particular value as from the 17th century when in the various corners of India Armenian communities emigrating from their motherland, come into being. Here we have in mind those authors who were residents of India or wrote their works while living in India.
The latter includes „A Manual for Trade Schools" by Kostand Joughayetsi which is of great value as it entirely deals with India. In it data are available on the commercial and economic life of the country in the 16th—
18th centuries. Kostand Joughayetsi gives particulars of the prices of hundreds of goods, the correspondence of various measures of weights and banknotes in the various regions of India, the methods of dealing in goods and raw materials. The manual is also provided with scores of tables on [the weight and price of precious stones and various currencies in India.
It should be noted, too, that a brief description of the Brahmans has also reached us in MS No. 3079 (17th c.) in the Matenadaran i.e. the book repository of ancient manuscripts, now made into a research institute of Yerevan. In this brief text the author speaks of the Hindus-Brahmans with great warmth and depicts them as honest, industrious and peaceable people.
Interesting chapters on India are to be found in one of the collections of geographical—ethnographic texts in MS No. 5026 (17th—18th centuries).
The author of those lines has detected an analogous text in two other MSS of the Matenadaran: No. 1787 (18th century) and No. 1783 (18th century).
Manuscript No. 1770 (17th c.) of the Matenadaran contains brief data concerning Chinupatam (Madras). A treasurable manuscript-collection of documents in several hundred pages relating to India and the Armeno-Indian relations of the 17th—-18th centuries written in Surat, Calcutta, New Julfa etc. during 1733-1740 is on the shelves of the British Museum.
In the present chapter the author touches on the general features of the now known „A History of Tahmas Kuli-Khan" by Tambourist Arutin (18th c), „A Chronology of Indian Kings" by Stepanos Dashtents, „A Geography of India" by Ar. Gover and G. Injijian (18th c.) and others, in addition to the writings of Hovhannes Trapezoontsi (18th c.) and Avetis Karbetsi (19th c.) discovered by the authors. We have also made due mention
in the closing pages of the chapter of other manuscripts that, were brought to light principally by the author. Those records bespeak the cultural relations of the two peoples. Highly valuable is, in this respect, the 18th century „A Text-book of Sanskrit" found out by the author, aside from books on medicine, astronomy and other subjects.
Chapter Three of the present publication encompasses the life and activities of Tovmas Khojamalian, the author of „A History of India", the MSS of „A History of India", its sources and publications.
Prior to our study the life and activities of Tovmas Khojamalian of Julfa, the author of „A History of India", remained in the dark.
Relying on old and recently uncovered facts the present study is the first to give an outline of the life and activities of the author of „A History of India". We have succeeded in ascertaining the fact that he is a native of New Julfa where he was born about the twenties of the 18th century. He received his elementary and secondary education in his native town. Subsequently, he took to sea-faring. As a great ship-owner and merchant Khojamalian was well-known in India and was closely affiliated with the ruling circles of that country.
Apart from Armenian he was conversant with classical Armenian, English, Persian, Bengal and several other languages and was perfectly at home with the histories of Armenia and India. Khojamalian died in 1780 in Agra and was buried in Delhi.
It becomes evident from the memorandum inserted in T. Khojamalian's „A History of India" that genuine historical facts derived from the royal archives of Shah Alam, lie at the base of the book. He had access to those archives and wrote out the relevant excerpts.
Considering the events of his days, the author made
use of the stories of his contemporaries and participants of those events, apart from publications.
Examining his work one arrives at the conclusion that T. Khojamalian has also made use of charts and atlases while pegging away at his „A History of India".
Until recently the following was known of „A History of India":
In 1845 the MS had been with the noted publicist and enlightener Mesrovp Takhiadian who began to publish various extracts from the book in his magazine as from the eighth issue and in 1849 he published the second part of the work in full. The circulation of „A History of India" was very limited and is now a bibliographic rarity.
Thus we had at our disposal only the second part of the study which could not, certainly, give a fair idea of the work done by Tovmas Khojamalian Joughayetsi.
To our regret, the original copy of the MS has not attained us. Until lately it was conventionally held out that the complete edition of „A History" was lost to science.
It was therefore essential to find the first, unpublished part or the complete edition of the book. The author's efforts in this direction were to a certain measure fruitful. A re-written copy of T. Khojamalian's writing was traced in Isfahan. However, we tried in vain to get photo copies of this book. We had to content ourselves with the discovery of a detailed description of the contents of „A History of India" and five chapters of the first part published in the magazine „Shtemaran" in 1822. Oddly enough, the published chapters have escaped the attention of those studying „Shtemaran". They are as follows.
1. „On the Christianity of Malabar (from ancient times to the year 1750); 2. „On the Armenian and Assyrian Communities of Kochin"; 3. „On the Religion of India";
4. „On the twelve holy rivers and the twenty-four holy lakes".
The author could also get the „Chronology" to „A History of India" written by T. Khojamalian. It was printed in the magazine „Azgasser", No. 8, 1845 and in No. 55, 1846 where no mention of the author is made.
Unfortunately, those chapters are of no particular value nor are they characteristic of the first part of the work. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, a comparison of the two descriptions of the first part and the four foregoing give a clearer idea as to the first part of „A History of India".
We have not dwelt in detail on the discovered chapters of part one, since four of them are of purely religious nature while „The Chronology" discloses nothing new.
The Fourth Chapter considers the history of Bengal in the years 1757—1760.
The second part of T. Khojamalian's „A History of India" begins with an introductory chapter „as to how and when the Europeans began to penetrate into India". Presumably having at hand publications, the author treats in this chapter entirely of the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. the construction of the first factories on the Indian coast as a stepping stone to the further penetration into the deep of the country. They were also preliminary to the first clashes of the European colonisers aimed at conquering India. In this part the author informs nothing new or interesting on the history of India.
The subsequent two chapters of T. Khojamalian's „A History of India" speak of Anglo-French rivalry in Southern India, Deccan and Karnatika. Relying on old and new facts he gives a detailed account of three wars in Karnatika. It is true that Khojamalian reveals certain fresh facts in those chapters, yet they are of no great consequence. He must not have been so much familiar with the
history of southern India as he was with Bengal's. Referring to one event or another or to one statesman or another he mixes up the events, dates, names etc.
T. Khojamalian's history begins with the rule of the Nawab Murshid Kuli-Khan—the first independent ruler of Bengal. He also considers the rules of the following nawabs—Shuja-ud-Din, Sarafraz-Khan, Alahverdi-Khan and the like.
In his writing T. Khojamalian dwelt to a certain measure on the events in Bengal in 1756—1760, the study envisaging the period of the nawabship of Sirab-ud-Dow-la. The Armenian source speaks quite unfavourably of the Nawab Siraj-ud-Dowla, even with some bias; and the reader can sense his enmity to the Nawab. As to other matters the author of „A History of India" sets forth the historic truth.
It can be seen from the Armenian source that upon ascending the throne, the young and energetic Nawab took at once in his hands the reins of power and exercised a strict control on all government bodies. The first thing he concerned himself with was the financial system. But soon he found himself vis-a-vis the powerful banker and merchant Jagat Seth. The latter, together with other representatives of the feudal oligarchy of Bengal affiliated with the English East India Company, were dissatisfied with the young Nawab and had an eye to replace him.
It is commonly known that the malcontents fled from Siraj-ud-Dowla to enjoy the protection of the English in Calcutta. T. Khojamalian notes that the list of quislings who ran off to the English included Raj-Ballabkh. The English refused the Nawab's demand to hand the defectors over to him. Khojamalian instances two similar cases. The British refusal served a pretext for the Nawab to turn his armies to the British colonisers. The Armenian source
informs that the Nawab's army comprised also Armenian volunteers.
British bourgeois historiography is out to present the anti-British action as of non-political nature and lays the stress on the Indians' desire to rob the rich merchants of their wealth.
Criticising those tendentious perversions the author shows that Siraj-ud-Dowla's action was a just cause, a national liberation struggle levelled at the British colonisers who were the political and economic enemies of the Bengalis.
Next T. Khojamalian outlines the seizure of Calcutta. Referring to the capture of this city by Nawab's armies and the consequent events in „Chronological Notes on the History of India" Karl Marx points out: „On the evening of June 21, 1756, „the tradesmen" took to their heels. Hallwell defended the port illumined by blazing factories; the fort was taken by storm and the garrison captured,;. Hallwell, an employee of the East India Company, tells that Siraj-ud-Dowla ordered the 146 Englishmen taken prisoner to sit in a small room, 20 sq. m. in area with a tiny window. The next day only 23 people were found surviving. „This was the so-called „Black Hole of Calcutta' about which the British bigots still raise a clamour".
Referring to the events in Bengal in 1757 nearly all of the bourgeois historians grossly distort the historic truth and present those facts in a false light: the English, those „peaceful merchants", were a victim to the bloodthirsty plunderer Siraj and the Indians.
Many scholars look upon the „ Black Hole" as a piece of forgery. However, no sound plea has been at hand to disprove this overstatement of Hallwell's. Such evidence of key importance is to be found in the Armenian source that sheds light on those events, at least in part.
The author quotes another new-found fact from a different Armenian source that serves an added proof to Hallwell's slander of the Indian people.
The Armenian sources which are based on documentary evidence and eye-witness accounts, enable us to eventually repudiate the deliberate perversion of truth by the British of the story of „The Black Hole".
Almost every writing relating to the English conquest of Bengal underlines the fact that the English annihilated the Bengali forces during the first attacks. The author relies on data produced by the Armenian source in proving the fact that the Indians put up a stiff and heroic resistance to the English beating off enemy assaults on many occasiona. The defence of Kasimbazar was particularly stubborn. The defenders of the fortress repulsed all the attacks of the English who could eventually break up the resistance owing to the treachery of Monik Chanda.
The chapter also provides a detailed account of the preparations for the battle near Plassey. Speaking of this battle bourgeois and particularly British historians usually state that the Indians showed almost no resistance, were readily smashed and they quitted the battlefield. Unfortunately, this view is shared also by a number of Soviet historians. The author of this book endeavours to show that this had not been quite the case. Dividing his army into three, the Nawab began to fight the English all along the front. Mir Madan, the brave commander loyal to the Nawab, and his men were especially distinguished for their bravery.
The general feeling was such that even the traitor Mir Jafar could not refrain from joining the battle. At first one could not say which party was the winner. And only after general Mir Madan's death and Mir Jafar's betrayal did the scales tip in favour of the Engiish.
Aside from exposing the slander of bourgeois histo-
riography, the evidence produced in the Armenian source on the history of Bengal under Siraj-ud-Dowla proves useful in revealing the historical truth. It is evident from „A History of India" that Siraj-ud-Dowla's campaign was in effect an act of self-defence. The Bengalis would not reconcile themselves to the thought that uninvited guests should rule supreme in their motherland; accordingly, they rose up to liberate their native country. No wonder that Soviet historiography ranks Siraj-ud-Dowla's name with those of the outstanding military men of India trying to unite the country and drive out the foreign colonisers.
The Fifth Chapter of the book canvasses the records of „A History of India" on the events of 1760—1764 in Bengal. It takes up nearly one-third of the writing. As compared to other sources on the history of Bengal over the same period it is one of the most detailed parts.
According to Khojamalian, Grigor Harutyunian from Murshidabad, a close friend of Mir Kassim, assisted the latter greatly in seizing power in Bengal.
Indian and Soviet scholars consider Mir Kassim a „strong and energetic ruler". In fact he differed from his predecessors. Strong and energetic, Mir Kassim hoped to become the true ruler of Bengal and not a mere stooge in the hands of the English Company.
Mir Kassim fully realised the fact that to achieve independence one needed allies. He looked upon the new ruler, the Grand Moghul -Shab Alam I and the ruler of Aud, Shouj-ud-Dowla, as his most reliable allies. He arrived in Aud, where the Grand Moghul lived, to sign a treaty with him against the English. As Shah Alam and Mir Kassim met, Grigor Harutyunian, the new commander of the Bengali armed forces, was received in audience by the ruler in person. He conferred on the Armenian the highest military rank. It was then that Shah Alam named him Gorgin Khan, and he was known as such to the end
of his life. Gorgin-Khan is also the name recorded in history.
Having struck an alliance with Shah Alam and transferred the capital to a safer place, Mir Kassim set out to organize a new Bengali army. Mir Kassim and Gorgin-Khan could in a short time assemble a large army. The new army was trained in the pattern of European troops. Kassim Ali appointed Indians and Europeans as commanders, including Armenians. According to the Armenian source the following Armenian officers of the Bengali army, under whose command the Bengali forces fought the British colonisers and who were marked off by Kassim Ali-Khan, achieved distinction: Markar Harutyunian, Hovhannes Kalantarian, Harutyun Markarian, Grigor Nahapet-Ayvazian, Petros Astvatsatran, Ghazar Hakopian,. Martiros Grigorian and others. The number of junior and senior officers in the Bengali army amounted to one hundred. An Armenian battalion also fought in the ranks of Nawab's troops.
Having organized a regular army Mir Kassim was faced with serious difficulties in arming it. Grigor Harutyunian turned to Indian and Armenian armourers in organizing the local production of armaments. After building up the army, supplying it with arms and consolidating the alliance with the Grand Moghul, Mir Kassim attempted to secure the rear and render the influential Anglophiles in the country harmless. The records, of the Armenian source on the campaigns of the Bengali army, aimed at safeguarding the rear, are valuable inasmuch as no mention is made on the subject in other sources.
The author draws on the new data of the Armenian source and Kassim. Great attention is given to Nawab's policy of cancelling the duties, for this sound decision of Mir Kassim came as a heavy blow to the Company. The English were not only deprived of the monopoly of the
dhastaks in trading in the richest areas of the country but had also to survive the competition with Indian, Armenian and other merchants. This decision paved the way for Bengali merchandise to a brisk trade enabling the local market to receive goods essential to the Indian economy.
Inconclusive negotiations led to an open armed conflict between Mir Kassim and the English. The Armenian source divulges many interesting facts on the rout of the English in Patna when the Bengali troops were led by Markar Harutyunian. The Armenian battalion also took part in the battle.
The records of the Armenian source on the events in Patna indicate that it was not to the British an action of lesser consequence during which the Bengalis „took over" from the enemy, as it is customarily phrased. The utter -defeat of the well-trained British troops by the new-organized Bengali army with 1370 dead left on the battlefield, has gone down as one of the most brilliant pages in the heroic battle of the Indian people against the British colonisers. Patna was followed by defeats of the English troops at other fronts.
In those decisive and heroic days for Bengal the participation of the Armenians in the liberation struggle was so significant and their Hindu allies held them in such a high esteem that during the victory day celebrations flags with crosses in honour of the Armenians were also raised along with Indian flags.
The author has also examined in detail the facts in the Armenian source concerning the battles and all the remaining events up to the defeat of Mir Kassim, having recourse to the new data of „A History of India" and of other lately discovered sources in Armenian. A number of events so far either unconsidered or incorrectly elucidated are viewed from a different angle.
The Sixth Chapter of the book treats of the appendix
of T. Khojamalian's „A History of India" where he speaks of one of the noted men of the Armenian community, the political figure and poet Mirza Zul-Karnain. The author interprets all this semi-legendary story in the light of historical facts.
Zul-Karnain lived in Jehangir's days. Jehangir himself as well as many contemporary sources mention him more than once. According to those sources Zul-Karnain ran the salt-mines in Lahore and Zambahare and was the deputy of Hugle. As the relations with Jehangir became strained, Zul-Karnain gave up all activity and took to composing Indian songs.
The existing ample evidence in Indian and European sources confirms the fact that Zul-Karnain was indeed a distinguished poet and song-writer of his time. Subsequently he attained such accomplishment that his productions found their way into the palace of the Grand Moghul. This is evidenced by the sovereign of India Jehangir himself in his famous memoirs. He appreciated highly Zul-Karnain's musical and poetic talent.
Contemporaries maintain that Zul-Karnain was not only a venerable poet and an acknowledged composer but also a playwright, singer and raconteur. He wrote exclusively in Persian which was in those days the state language of the country of the Grand Moghul. But the most precious information in Tovmas Khojamalian's story remains, of course, the news of the settlement of one of the oldest Armenian communities in India in the new capital of the Grand Moghul Akbarabad (Agra) and the solicitous care shown to the Armenians by one of the great sovereigns of India Shah Akbar.
The Seventh Chapter of the book is devoted to another 18th century Armenian source—„The Biography of Hyder Ali" by Hakop Simonian. It is the first attempt
in Soviet oriental studies to highlight the original source of Hyder Ali.
„The Biography" is written by a man who was a friend of Hyder and knew him quite well. Simonian was a tradesman and was in close touch with the local rulers.
It is uncertain when he set about his work and when he concluded it. The fate of the manuscript is as uncertain. Its unabridged contents are published in the magazine „Azdarar" in Madras, in 1793—1795. Two unique copies of this first Armenian printed periodical have been preserved in the U.S.S.R.
Hakop Simonian's „The Biography" is one of the earliest biographical works on Hyder Ali.
This treasurable writing divulges facts that have so far been unknown. From cover to cover the author expresses his affection to his hero, the „happy, lucky and brave ruler Hyder Ali". In addition to other motives the author's attitude is also accounted for by his personal friendship with Hyder Ali. „The Biography" is all the more valuable for the author has not confined himself to a mere description of the private, intimate life of Hyder but has outlined it as against the background of the political and military events in the history of Mysore during 1762—1782.
In this way „The Biography" can serve as a source for the history of Mysore of this period. The basic merit of this writing lies in the fact that it is written by a man quite familiar with Hyder, the numerous men surrounding him and the events of those days. Frequently he himself was a witness and at times participant of those events. He would take them down on the spot and elaborate them later. There is one more point of moment: the author renders an impartial account of the events. No attempt at twisting the facts can be discerned. Only at times to testify Hyder's failures he shuns speaking of them or if he mentions them he tries to find some plea. True, „The
Biography" speaks little of the history of Armeno-Indlan relations, but even this little entitles us to asserting the fact that the Armenians of Mysore enjoyed the patronage of Hyder and the local residents.
The appendix of the book is composed of the following parts:
a) translation of the collations of T. Khojamalian's classical Armenian text: „A History of India" and „Hakop Simonian's „The Biography of Hyder Ali";
b) Remarks and textological corrections to the Russian texts.
Рафик Абрамян. Армянские источники XVIII в. об Индии, Издательство Академии
наук Армянской ССР, Ереван, 1968