Friday, September 1, 2000

Kishen Pershad --a multifaceted noble

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad -- 61


Kishen Pershad --a multifaceted noble
By Narendra Luther

One of the most colourful and powerful nobles of Hyderabad whose life spanned two centuries was Maharaja Sir Kishen Pershad.

He traced his lineage to Raja Todar Mall, the revenue minister of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. His father was Hari Kishen who was a son-in-law of Raja Narender Bahadur, who in turn, was a grandson of Maharaja Chandulal. The latter was the hereditary Peshkar of Hyderabad and Prime Minister during 1832-1842. The Peshkar ranked next only to the Diwan - the Prime Minister.

Originally, named Purshottam Dass, the chronogram drawn up for Kishen Pershad was Farzand-e-Farkhunda (the fortunate son) which yielded the date of his birth -- 1280 Hijri (1864).

Early life

Due to his father's early death Kishen Pershad was brought up by Raja Narender Bahadur. He was taught various languages, and the martial arts. He knew Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindu, Gurumukhi, and English. His early life was spent in the company of the young Nizam VI and the sons of Salar Jung I. They were all educated together. The British Resident insisted that the pubescent Nizam VI should shift from Chow Mohalla complex because he did not want him to be in female company all the time. So he was lodged in the Purani Haveli. A high wall separated the bachelor's residence from the ladies' quarters in the Purani Haveli. Mehboob was allowed to spend a night in the ladies quarters once a week.

One evening Mehboob wanted to spend an extra night in the zenana. Special permission was required for that and the quarters were closely guarded. Mehboob asked Kishen Pershad to get hold of a ladder. That was placed against the wall adjoining the female quarters. Then Laik Ali, Salar Jung's son was asked to scale the wall and pull out one of the maids from the other side with a `rope’ made of a number of dupattas - head scarves.

The incident came to the notice of Salar Jung I. He sent a note to Raja Narender finding fault with Kishen Pershad for procuring the ladder. Kishen Pershad explained that he was duty-bound to carry out the orders of his ruler. Raja Narender agreed with the explanation given by his grandson and told Salar Jung that he would have done likewise in similar circumstances.

Prime Minister

In 1895, he was appointed Minister for Military Affairs and in 1900 he succeeded Vicar-ul-Umra as Prime Minister.

In 1911 Mir Osman Ali Khan became Nizam VII. He was led to believe that Kishen Pershad was one of those nobles who had petitioned to the Viceroy against his accession. On that suspicion the Nizam dismissed him. The signatures later proved to be a forgery.

His wit

He then travelled in India extensively. He learnt painting adding one more to his varied hobbies including playing on harmonium and sitar, and cooking. On a visit to Lahore, he developed a deep and abiding friendship with the famous poet Dr.Mohd. Iqbal. He himself wrote poetry in Persian and Urdu and sported the pen name of `Shad' (The Happy One). His palace became renowned for its mushaiaras (Urdu poetic gatherings) and the best poets of India recited their compositions there. His were the only poetic assemblies in which the poems composed by the Nizam could be recited. Kishen Pershad used to receive the poems by touching them with his forehead eyes and then give it to the messenger for recitation. Every line in it was so vociferously lauded as if the poet himself was present. People still remember the elaborate ritual and grand scale of those events. One of the poets in his mushairas used to be Abid Ali `Begum'. He dressed wrote and recited as if he was woman. He thus provided a humorous touch to the proceedings. In one mushaira he read a couplet in which he expressed gratitude to his patron Maharaja Kishen Pershad who had granted him a monthly stipend. Using a double entendre, he said, "Thanks to the Maharaja, I still get my monthly.” The Maharaja retorted: "Strange, I have grown old but you still get your monthlies."


Patronage of letters

Kishen Pershad also wrote prose, travelogues and authored over 60 books and pamphlets. Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung, who served, as his secretary believed that charity was his most outstanding virtue. According to Mohd bin Ali Bawahb, his daily charities, and alms giving amounted to 300 rupees. Whenever he travelled, he used to keep two bagfuls of coins in his car from which he threw handfuls with both hands to crowds of poor people who would chase his car. It is said that he never looked at the eyes of the person whom he was giving charity so as not to embarrass him.
Second term

In 1927 he was again called upon to become Prime Minister and he stayed in that job for 9 years.
Kishen Pershad was courteous and generous to a fault. He used to refer to himself as a fakir i.e. a person of no means. Given his lifestyle, his unbounded generosity, and the neglect of his estate, he ended up in debt.

Secularism

Kishen Pershad was very secular in his outlook and this was manifested in very interested manner. He married three Hindu and four Muslim women and sired 30 children from them. Quite a few of them died during his lifetime. The children born of Muslim wives were given Muslim names, brought up as Muslims and married to Muslim spouses while those born of Hindu wives similarly continued to be Hindus. This is perhaps the only example of a personage’s children following the faith not of the father but of the mother. In his will, however, he advised, the practice of monogamy.

The Maharaja was given the title of Yamin-ul-sultanat (the 'right hand of the ruler') by the Nizam and those of KCIE and GCIE by the British.

Shad Nagar town in the Mehboob Nagar district is named after his pen name.

He enjoyed equal popularity amongst all the communities. Many people often said that he was a Muslim while others maintained that he was a Hindu. His responded with a couplet:

Mai hoon Hindu, main hoon Musalmaan, har mazhab hai mera imaan
`Shad' ka mazhab `Shad' hee jaane Azaadi azad he jaane.

(I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, and all religions are mine
Only Shad knows his religion, just as only the Free know freedom)

He died in 1940 at the age of 76. His palace, `Shad Mansion’ saw great glory. Some time ago, two lions at the gate were all that was left of it. Recently some of us tried in vain to locate even those traces.


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13 comments:

Romana Mirza said...

Mr. Luther

I am the great-granddaughter of Maharajah Kishen Pershad, the grand daughter of Sayeedunissa Begum, born to one of his Muslime wives. I visited his deori in the early '90s and have some wonderful photographs, including photos of my grandmothers wedding which took place on the campus.

Sumeet said...

Romana
could you please share (some)of these with us.

A picture is worth a 1000 words, and in my opinion the farther back in time the picture is from, the more interesting the stories it tells us.

Shukriya

Sumeet said...

Mr Luther, your wife taught us in HPS in the 70s and I have been in NYC for 2 decades, but your writings make Hyd come alive.

Pls keep writing, whether on the Web or in print. A book on old tyme pics of Hyd nobility, not just the Nizam, is overdue.

After all it is Lalaji's town so it is fitting that we talk of tasveer ka kamaal :))

orhana said...

Romana can you send me some of the pics or let me know your email Id.

Sabiha said...

A relative of mine had married Maharaja Kishen Pershad's daughter. I don't know their names. But what I heard about them is that they had a posh bungalow with a fountain that used to gush forth inside the drawing room. He was my grandmother Amena Begum's nephew. I wonder if you are related to him by any chance.

romana said...

I am sorry that I have not been to this blog posting in so long and did not see your requests. You can find me on Facebook at romana.b.mirza and I will post the pictures in an Album there. Romana

gaddu said...

Hello Romana,
This is Harish Here, I am from mumbai. I am a freelance media person working basically as a film maker.
I am actua;;y searching for the long lost maharaja's and kings of our country and basically my state.

I am in the verge of researching and making a documentary on families of the royal family and their living heir.
Is there any way that you can help me with the details about the royal family in hyderabad.

Thanks & Regards.

Sera said...

Amazing to find this blog on my grandfather. My siblings and I are the children of Maharaja Kishen Pershad's youngest daughter, Krishna Kunwar, who married into the Badhwar family of Ujhani. I am the youngest daughter and his youngest grand daughter. Mummy passed awy at the wonderful old age of 90 on the 5th of this month and I feel that she wished that her father's entire family would reconnect. I wait to hear from you Romana.

Hema Badhwar Mehra

rishidhand said...

I am great - great grand son of Maharaja Kishen pershad...now work in hyderabad in an IT firm.. (rishidhand@gmail.com)...Raja Behari pershad was his son- in law whose son was Raja Kundan Lal (Kudan bagh was named after him) and there was a huge palace in kundan bagh which is now lifestyle mall..I have lived in that palace when young..great memories..

Princee Jagirdaar said...

Jagirdaar...

kya toh b hai yeeh haaan,
ek article kya likhdiye...poora khandan milgaya...
chup karo jhooot bolna sabjaane.....

meku sirf romana or sera such dekhre.. b tru guys..

Deepika Saincher said...

I am the great-great grand daughter of maharaja Kishen Pershad. My grandfather and his brothers lived in Deori until his death. I have a lot of albums with various pictures of Maharaja Kishen Pershad.

jayakrishnan said...

Deepika, how you related to shalini saincher, she is great granddaughter of Maharajah Kishen Pershad

gopal saincher said...

Iam the only hindu living grandson of THE GREAT MAHARAJA in hyderabad any one wanting to share photos with me is most welcome my email is saincher@hotmail.com i have also had two books of urdu poetry and one of persian printed,i don"t know why luther refuses to acknowledge this,he was there when we released the books.
RAJA SHYAM GOPAL SAINCHER