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Tarikh-i Hindi

Tarikh-i Hindi by Rustam ‘Ali.
In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 22, pp. 37-67.

  1. Overview

A general history of the world, composed in the year 1154 H. (1741-2 CE) by Rustam ‘Ali, son of Muhammad Khali Shahabadi.  It follows the general pattern of Muslim histories.  It is notable for its coverage of the reign of the Moghul emperor Muhammad Shah, who ruled from 1719-1748 CE, during whose reign the Moghul empire crumbled.  It reports on events presumably witnessed by the author, including Nâdir Shah’s disastrous sack of Delhi, which occurred in 1739, just two years before the book was completed.

Following the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, a war of sucession broke out among his sons, which resulted to the rise to power of Bahadur Shah, who did not prove to be a capable leader.  He died after only five years in 1712, when his four sons engaged in another war of succession.  The victor, Farrukhsiyar, ascended to the throne in 1713, but ruled for only eleven months before being murdered himself.  For several years thereafter the powerful Sayyid family put on the throne a series of phantom emperors, none of whom lasted very long.  Finally, Muhammad Shah came to the throne in 1719, but he inherited a deeply crippled empire, one which was increasingly challenged by rival powers such as the Marathas in the south and the Sikhs in the Punjab.

In 1736, Nâdir Qulî Khan (also known as Tahmâsp Qulî Khan) overthrew the Safavî dynasty in Iran, and took the throne as Nâdir Shah.  Once his position was secure in Iran he turned his sights to the wealthy but blundering Moghuls in India.  In 1739 he led a large army into India via Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore, and encountered no resistance until he reached the Jumna at Karnal, where the Mughal army was waiting.  He routed the imperial army, slaying 20,000 soldiers and collecting an immense booty.  Muhammad Shah at this point submitted, becoming effectively a prisoner of Nâdir Shah.  They continued on to Delhi, and entered together.  Rumours circulated, however, that Nâdir Shah had died, resulting in an uprising that killed several hundred or thousand of the Iranian troops.  Nâdir Shah then, seated in the Golden Mosque of Rashanu-d daula, ordered an massacre of the inhabitants of Delhi that continued for nine hours, until, at Muhammad Shah’s urging, he ordered the end of the massacre.  Many thousands were killed.  Nâdir Shah then stripped away and carried off to Iran all of the wealth of Delhi, including Shah Jahan’s peacock throne.  He also annexed Afghanistan and all of the territory west of the Indus river.  His sack and massacre of Delhi rivaled that of Timur’s in severity.  He dealt what was effectively the death blow of the Moghul empire.  Although the dynasty continued for another century, they never regained the power which was held up until the time of Aurangzeb.

  1. Excerpt

[p. 62]

Afterwards Nadir Shah himself, with the Emperor of Hindustan, entered the fort of Delhi.  It is said that he appointed a place on one side in the fort for the residence of Muhammad Shah and his dependents, and on the other side he chose the Diwan-i Khas, or, as some say, the Garden of Hayat Bakhsh, for his own accommodation.  He sent to the Emperor of Hindustan, as to a prisoner, some food and wine from his own table.  One Friday his own name was read in the khutba, but on the next he ordered Muhammad Shah’s name to be read.  It is related that one day a rumour spread in the city that Nadir Shah had been slain in the fort.  This produced a general confusion, and the people of the city destroyed five thousand1 men of his camp.  On hearing of this, Nadir Shah came of the fort, sat in the golden masjid which was built by Rashanu-d daula, and gave orders for a general massacre.  For nine hours an indiscriminate slaughter of all and of every degree was committed.  It is said that the number of those who were slain amounted to one hundred thousand.2  The losses and calamities of the people of Delhi were exceedingly great….

After this violence and cruelty, Nadir Shah collected immense riches,3 which he began to send to his country laden on elephants and camels.


  1. “Without doubt nearly 3000 Persians fell victims.” -Bayan-i Waki’.
  2. “It was found by inquiry from the kotwal of the city that nearly 20,000 men must have been massacred.” -Bayan-i Waki’.
  3. “It is probable that the plunder amounted to about eighty krors of rupees.” -Bayan-i Waki’.