About Raj Kishori Rawal
DATA ADDED BY DR NAVIN ATAL(NOV 2008)
ARTICLE BY DR.RAMESH KUMAR BASED ON INPUTS PROVIDED BY RAJKISHORI RAWAL ,WHO HAD TREMENDOUS MEMORY AND COULD PROVIDE THE MINUTEST DETAIL
Allama Iqbal-Searching for Pandit Roots,KASHMIR SENTINAL,May 2003 Issue |
by Dr. Ramesh Kumar
Sir Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal, who subsequently became famous as Allama Mohammed Iqbal was born in Sialkot on November 9, 1877. That Iqbal came from Kashmiri Brahmin stock was well-known. However, there were few details on how his ancestors came to settle down in Sialkot. The claim that Iqbal’s family originally hailed from ‘Saprain’ a village on Shopian-Kulgam road, lacks historical data. Saprus, even if all of them hailed from this village, have been living in Srinagar city for more than five centuries. Another difficulty to trace roots of Sapru family in Kashmir is the lack of tradition to maintain geneology, among Kashmiri Pandits.
It was in 1969, Dr R.K. Parimu, the author of “History of Muslim Rule in Kashmir”, provided a vital clue to Iqbal’s ancestory. In 1939-40, when Dr. Parimu had been assigned the task of organizing and listing the Persian records for the state government in the J&K State Record office in Jammu, he stumbled upon a paper among the Persian documents. According to this document, one Sahaz Ram Sapru was in charge of the revenue of Kashmir during the regime of Afghan Governor, Azim Khan (1813-1819). Sapru” as per the document, had held the revenue in arrears, having expended the money in marriages, etc. in his family. When the report went to the Governor, he summoned him. Sahaz Ram admitted his guilt like a brave man. He was young, charming and attractive. The governor was moved and offered him death or Islam as a penalty. As per Dr Parimu, Sapru accepted Islam and at the same time requested that as Muslim he would not like to live in Kashmir. He was allowed to settle in Sialkot.
This view is discounted by Moulvi Hassan and rightly so. Pandit Sahaz Ram was first appointed as revenue collector in 1796 by Afghan Governor, Abdullah Khan Alkozai (1796-1800). Sahaz Ram was appointed Dewan in 1806 by the new Governor, Ata Mohammad Khan Barakzai (1806-13). The Governor was a just and generous ruler and led a simple life. In 1813 when Azim Khan became Governor, (1813-19) Pandit Sahaz Ram Sapru, was reappointed as Governor’s Dewan. Pandit Sahaz Ram Sapru’s loyalty and ability had stood him in good stead. He had been in Governor’s service since 1796. The same Azim Khan had lynched Pandit Hara Dass Tiku, brother of Dewan Nand Ram Tiku.
When Sikh victory seemed imminent, Azim Khan hurriedly left Kashmir in 1819. He left his family and the huge treasure of one crore in cash and kind in the custody of his loyal official, Pandit Sahaz Ram Sapru to follow him. Pandit Sahaz Ram escorted Azim Khan’s family and wealth to Kabul.
Fearing persecution at the hands of new Sikh rulers, for his extreme loyalty, to Azim Khan Pandit Sahaz Ram Sapru decided to settle down in Sialkot, a town just 14 kms from Jammu. He acquired lot of lands.
The genelogy of Iqbal’s family so meticulously prepared by Mrs. Rajkishori Rawal (nee Sapru), daughter of Pandit Amarnath Sapru, Ist cousin of Iqbal’s father, starts with Birbal Sapru, father of Iqbal’s grandfather Kanhai Lal. There are enough reasons to believe Pandit Sahaz Ram Sapru was father of Birbal Sapru. Birbal Sapru’s family settled in Sialkot around the time Sahaz Ram left Kashmir.
In nineteenth century there were just four Kashmiri Pandit families in Sialkot town. One was Ram Narain Handoo and his brother Hriday Narain Handoo, the maternal uncles of A.K. Hangal, the film actor. Second one was Birbal Sapru family. Third family was that of Mohan Zutshi. The fourth one was that of Damodar Pandit. All these Pandit families were related to one another. Damodar Pandit, a leading astrologer, who taught Sanskrit at Govt. High School, Sialkot had two daughters. One was married to Ram Narain. Handoo’s father and second to Pandit Radhakrishan Sapru, the son of Birbal Sapru. Mohan Zutshi’s grandson Gopi Krishan Zutshi was married to Ram Narain’s sister.
Pandit Birbal Sapru had inherited lot of lands, located in Punjab Gujarat - Sobha Singh Ka Kila and Kuja. Despite the affluence, Sapru family of Sialkot did not form part of the upper class elite of the Pandit community in Punjab. This family disliked services and led simple life. Tragedies struck the family too frequently. The only male survivor of the clan was Pandit Amarnath Sapru, who died decades ago.
Pandit Birbal Sapru had one daughter Gango and five sons-Ganga Bishan, Thakur Dass, Kanhai Lal, Mukand Lal and Radha Krishan. Gango had two sons-Dina Nath and Amar Nath, besides six daughters. Dina Nath’s wife died too young, leaving behind a son, Kailash. Kailash completed college education and died soon after. Amar Nath went to study abroad and married an English lady. He took the name of Amar Nath Purbi and attained the top post of Director customs in J&K State government. He enjoyed great popularity among officials and the people. After the death of Amar Nath Purbi, his wife returned to England alongwith her lone daughter.
Ganga Bishan and Thakur Dass looked after the family lands. Ganga Bishan was married to Vedna but the two lived an unhappy married life. Vedna died young. Thakur Dass married Bhagvanti. They did not have any child. He adopted his youngest brother, Radhakrikshan as his son.
Kanahai Lal :
Kanhai Lal, Allama Iqbal’s grandfather was the fourth child of his parents. He was married to ‘Poshi’. In-laws had named her ‘Indrani’. Three sons and five daughters were born to them. The three sons were Ratan Lal, Iqbal’s father, Behari Lal and Nand Lal. Ratan Lal fell in love with a Muslim girl in the neighbourhood and married her. The family disowned him and Ratan Lal converted to Islam.
Behari Lal’s birth has an interesting story behind it. One day, Indrani who was carrying Behari Lal, was enjoying siesta after lunch. In dream, she saw a big snake crawling over her body and heard it saying, “Indrani. I am going to take birth from you in the form of a son and will destroy all your three houses”. Drowned in fear, Indrani opened her eyes and saw a snake actually moving over her body. Indrani subsequently turned short-tempered. After giving birth to Behari Lal, she gave him in adoption to Imberzali, her sister-in-law.
It was Nand Lal, who was the darling of his parents. He developed a unique personality, which combined simplicity with concern for others’ welfare. He would just survive on milk and bread and did not marry.
Kanhai Lal’s four daughters died quite early. His last surviving daughter Prano was married to Ram Prashad Sopori in Amritsar. After Prano’s death, Nand Lal took full care of his nephew ‘Srikrishan’. It were the efforts of Nand Lal that Srikrishan passed Matriculation with good marks. After he was admitted to college, Nand Lal was consumed by Plague. Now Indrani had to assume the full responsibility for looking after Sri Krishan. He joined police service and after a training course at Sagar got a good post. Srikrishan was married to Senapati, a girl from Bakshi Kashmiri family, settled in Jammu. She was named Chand Rani by Indrani. Chand Rani took her sister’s son in adoption, who too joined police.
Mukand Lal Sparu was the fourth son of Birbal Sapru. He was married to a beautiful girl, Rajo. Her mother-in-law enamoured of her great beauty had named her Imberzali. It is the name of a flower, that grows in Kashmir Valley. Once Mukand Lal fell ill. All cures failed. His mother brought an astrologer, who told her that her daughter-in-law was the cause of Mukand’s illness. He advised that if she desired good health for her son, Mukand should not even see the shadow of his wife. The astrologer asked Mukand’s mother to keep her daughter-in-law under strict veil. Imberzali, who was still in her teens, faced torture from her mother-in-law. She would be overworked and frequently subjected to assaults. No family member would even intervene. At times she would be denied food and even turned out from the house. She came to be known as ‘Kunwari Bahu’.
Mukand Lal passed matric from Punjab University . Only three students had passed the examination and he had stood first. He became a judge in Amritsar. Mukand had a sterling character and was never overwhelmed by the fame he achieved.
To pass their time, drowned in sorrow, both Indrani and Imberzali had taken to spinning the wheel. Imberzali’s mother-in-law had given Indrani’s son, Behari Lal in adoption to her. Sapru family celebrated the Yagneopavit ceremony of Behari Lal with great pomp and show. He was seven years of age then. It was around this time Mukand Lal passed away. Behari Lal was married to Chanda, who was named Brij Rani. Only five months after her marriage, Behari Lal left this world. Imberzali was crest fallen. Few months later Brij Rani gave birth to Shiv Nandan at Sialkot. At his Kahnethar (naming ceremony), ceremony, the entire Pandit Baradari of Sialkot had been invited. Indrani, Imberzali and Brij Rani performed mundane ceremony also at Sialkot. Few months after the mundan ceremony, Shiva Nandan fell seriously ill and death snatched him.
Iqbal’s return :
Around this time, Indrani had come to Amritsar to stay with Imberzali. One day there was a gentle knock at the door. When Brij Rani opened the door, a young boy entered. Bowing his head in reverence, he wished Namaskar to the two old ladies and sat down near them. Astonished by the boy’s grace, the old ladies in a single voice asked him, “Who are you? Where from have you come?”
The boy, in a moving tone told them, “Amma Jan, Don’t treat me as a stranger. I am Iqbal, the son of your own Ratan Lal. Your and Sapru family’s blood runs in my Veins, Amma! When father came to know about the tragedies that have struck this family, he felt humiliated and worried. He has sent me to you. He is confident, that you will accept me as your own. I am a part of your body. I am your own grandson, Dadi Jan”.
Indrani got lost in her thoughts. Her flial love for her grandson had to contend with the decadent social code of the time. Izzat of the family depended on the community consensus. The Kashmiri Pandit Samaj of those days was bitterly divided by the polemics exchanged between Bishan Sabha and Dharam Sabha. Indrani had already lost her Ratan Lal, fearing for family Izzat. Indrani could not speak anything. Ratan Lal had sent Iqbal for family rapproachment.
Imberzali could not restrain herself and told the young boy, “Iqbal, you have been born to a Muslim mother. Neither our family nor our biradari will accept you again. It is impossible. You better return”.
Iqbal still wanted to take a chance. He told Indrani, “Dadi Jan. Father does not care for us. He is all the time lost in his own world. Ammi is also worried. I have come with a firm belief that you won’t disown me because I am your own”. Indrani was all tears. This account is based on the family history maintained by Sapru family.
For many days after Iqbal had left, Indrani continued to feel as if he was sitting besides her.
Radha Krishan :
Pandit Radha Krishan Sapru was the youngest child of Birbal Sapru. A model of honesty and loyalty, he was deeply religious too. He was married to Parvati, the daughter of renowned Sanskrit teacher, Damodar Pandit. She was called Rajrani at in-law’s house. Her marriage was performed at the famous shrine of Dhuni Saab, Mansa Razdan, at Killa Darpan in Punjab Gujarat. Father had bequeathed to her his varied learning. She was a good poet and composed around eighty poems, most of these in Punjabi. She also wrote few poems in Urdu. She could recite Shiv Mahima-Sutr, Indrani, Hanuman Chalisa, Vishnu Sahasarnama etc without any aid. Her knowledge of Ramayan, Mahabharat, Yog Vashisht, Gita, Upanishad was proverbial. Radha Krishan knew Urdu and Persian. He served in Sialkot district office.
Radha Krishan and Rajrani had one son, Amarnath and three daughters Jainti, Rupo and Shamo. Jainti was married in Khar family. She had two daughters Rameshwari and Gouri. The latter died quite young in Multan. Rameshwari had two daughters-Bimla Koul and Khema. Bimla was wife of Late Pandit Kashyap Bandu, the well-known Pandit leader. Shamo was married to Bal Krishan Gurtoo, son of Pandit Gopi Nath Gurtu. Shamo had one daughter Kameshwari (Kamandedi-born in 1901) and one son, Santosh Gurtu. Kameshwari was married to Inder Krishan Koul, younger brother of Pandit Ganga Ram Kaul. He died only a year after the marriage. Santosh Gurtu, is a well known journalist, who once edited “The Pratap”.
Rupo was married to Ram Nath Karwanyu (Pandit). She had three sons Pran Nath, Iqbal Nath and Omkar Nath. Pran Nath’s one son, Opinder Nath is settled in Holland and teaches chemistry at the University. The other son, Prof. Ravinder Kumar, who died recently, was a foremost scholar on Colonial India. He served for many years as Director Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Rupo’s only daughter was married in Thutha (Atal) family. Dr Jagat Mohini and Dr. Chand Atal, a well-known scientist and art collector are grand children of Rupo. Pran Nath Karwanyu also tried his hand at poetry. He once wrote, “Abhi Ruk Jaye Pandit Ka Janaza, Mujhe Kooch Puchna Hai Jism Aur Jan Se.”
Amar Nath, the son of Pandit Radha Krishan also imbibed the best traditions of the family. After matriculation, he joined service as Accounts officer in Army. At the age of 18, he was married to Brij Kishori, who belonged to Kashmiri family, Thola. They had one daughter, Raj Kishori (born-1910) who was married to Pandit Jeevan Nath Rawal. Brij Kishori died at the age of 29 years in 1920.(Raj Kishori-who gave an accurate detailed description for this article,see photo at the top)
Pandit Amar Nath:
Pandit Amar Nath served for a few years in Iran as well. He knew Urdu, Persian and Sanskrit. Intensely proud of his Kashmiri Pandit heritage, he translated Vaakhs of Lalleshwari, Kashmir’s patron saintess, into Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, without any fault. Pandit Amar Nath also authored Kashmiriyon Me Vam Marg and Poshpuza, which were widely acknowledged. He wrote hundreds of poems. His entire poetical collection, as per his family, lies with Prof. C.L. Sapru. His manuscript, Sahita, remains unpublished.
Pt. Amar Nath Sapru was a Yogi of high order and followed Arya Samaj tenets. He donated his entire property and rich collection of books to Gurukul Kangri, Hardiwar, where he passed his last days.