Fall of the Mughal Empire according to Dr. Kalika Ranjan Qanungo, “is a history of a higher order than the History of Aurangzib, which is but a
biography writ large with an ample background. Jadunath Sarkar gains more in ease, humour and eloquence, shows a greater mastery over
historical narrative, and a higher literary workmanship, keeping a wonderful balance between synthesis and analysis by handling the telescope and
microscope of history in his Fall of the Mughal Empire.” Moreover, it “has a wider appeal to the people of India, and also of Europe than his
History of Aurangzib, each volume of which imparts fine shades of colour to the picturesque carpet of the evening twilight of our Mediaeval
history.” Consequently, it is all the more interesting and worthwhile to know more fully about it.
After publishing the first editions of the first four volumes of his monumental work History of Aurangzib by November 1919,
Jadunath Sarkar took up the work of duly editing and preparing the press copy of William Irvine’s eminent work Later Mughals, which had
remained a fragment due to it author’s untimely demise on 3rd November 1911. William Irvine had helped Jadunath Sarkar greatly since his first
acquaintance with him in 1902, as the reviewer of his first and really noteworthy work India of Aurangzib, which unfortunately has not yet been
According to P.E. Roberts, William Irvine’s Later Mughals, edited and brought down to AD 1739 by Jadunath Sarkar, “drives a broad
pathway through a very tangled jungle…It is a piece of work which badly needed doing, and it has been done with amazing thoroughness. The
most notable part of the book is the careful incorporation of Persian and Marathi unpublished material.” Hence after completing the fifth
volume of his History of Aurangzib, dealing with “The after completing the fifth volume of his History of Aurangzib, dealing with “The Last
Phase, 1705-1707” of Aurangzib’s reign on 14th December 1924, Jadunath Sarkar spent about the fall of the Mughal empire. His visit to Jaipur
proved very fruitful in discovering important records for the years 1712-60, many of which were copied out for him I eighteen volumes, now
known as Sarkar’s Collection from the Jaipur records. He also initiated the examination of Persian and Marathi records, written in Modi script,
at the Alienation office, Poona. He thoroughly rewrote and greatly enlarged his Shivaji and His Times (third edition, 1929) and later revised and
rewrote his fourth volume of History of Aurangzib (second edition, 1930). Only thereafter could he take up the writing of the first volume of his
Fall of the Mughal Empire which really took much time in its actual composition, because of the great attention he paid to his style while writing
When Jadunath Sarkar took up the writing of his Fall of the Mughal Empire, there were only a few English books on the subject, such
as H.G. Keene’s Fall of the Mughal Empire (revised edition, 1872) and Sydney J. Owen’s Fall of Mogal Empire (1912), which were much more
detailed than the relevant chapters in Elphinstone’s History of India (first published in 1841). But they were all mainly based on some eighteenth
century Persian works, like that of Khafi Khan’s Muntakhabul-Lubab or Gulam Husain’s Siyar-ul-Mutakherin and J. Grant Duff’s. A History of
the Mahrattas (1826). Again, during the last quarter of the nineteenth century a number of eminent researches in Maharashtra such as V.K.
Rajwade, K.N. Sane, V.V. Khare and D.B. Parasnis had begun to collect and published volumes of original Marathi source materials of Maratha
history, but the same were yet to be duly utilized after a careful study and a critical scrutiny.
Fall of the Mughal Empire is in fact a continuation of William Irvine’s Later Mughals, which carried the history of the Delhi empire
upto May 1739 when Nadir Shah left Delhi on his way back to Persia via Kabul Thereby Jadunath Sarkar took up the task of completing the
original project of William Irvine to write the history of the later Mughals upto the capture of Delhi by the English in 1803. Consequently, he
took up the writing of his monumental work Fall of the Mughal Empire, and completed it in about twenty years, its last and fourth volume being
published in 1850.
It was really a very happy coincidence that the preparations for writing the Fall of the Mughal Empire coincided with the
epoch-making task of the exploration, selection and publication of all volumes of not only the Selections from the Peshwa Daftar but also of the
Poona Residency Correspondence series. Thus Jadunath Sarkar was able to duly utilize relevant information and details contained in the various
volumes of the Selections from the Peshwa Daftar, the Poona Residency Correspondence series and other additional original source materials,
including the Gulgule Daftar of Kota which had been brought to light while he was writing relevant volumes of this colossal work.
“Jadunath Sarkar as a historian was not an accident”, according to his lifelong colleague the Maratha historian, Govind Sakharam
Sardesai, “not a fortunate child of opportunities, but a consummation of a life of preparation, planning, hard industry and ascetic devotion to a
great mission.” Moreover, Jadunath Sarkar’s astounding success and noteworthy achievements as a historian are due not only because of his
correct and healthy concept of history, but all the more so due to his having adopted the latest and proper methods of historical research. He is
well known for his systematic methods of research, painstaking care for the minutest details of every kind, his constant vigilance for fully
knowing about the latest discoveries of varied relevant materials relating to the present as well as the past subjects of his research, his thorough
examination and deep critical analysis of the extant raw materials of history available to him, his honest and persistent efforts for the discovery
of truth from unassailable sources and thereby continuously extending the bounds of knowledge.
Once he decided to undertake any subject for his research study, Jadunath Sarkar got about in right earnest to collect all such possible
materials as were then available to the public. He collected many relevant manuscripts and other worthwhile items of source material not only
from various public libraries but also from private collections in India. Thus in the realm of history, Jadunath Sarkar was not only an excellent
architect but a fruitful digger and a skillful stone dresser as well; all this he did with unique thoroughness and praiseworthy skill.
The vast mass of all the varied source materials, primary or secondary, printed or in manuscript, a careful thorough study and a
searching analysis for the requisite critical appraisal of the historical value of each of these items. Guided by the basic principles of the law of
historical evidence, he carried out his analysis and final appraisal of each of these sources with a cool, calculated, relentless and severe
Jadunath Sarkar fully understood the practical limitations of each source material and utilized the information given by it after
critically appraising it, duly verifying it and considering its feasibility, and thereafter too only with great caution. He spared no pains to collect
necessary information to verify and evaluate any relevant evidence.
Whenever Jadunath Sarkar came across any important Persian manuscript which would necessarily be utilized by him extensively
during the course of his historical studies and researches, he used to translate the whole of it into English with exact page or folio references of
the manuscript and keep it handy for his future use. Similarly whenever he worked on any complicated or important period of history, he took
detailed and exhaustive notes from all important sources. All relevant extracts from various Persian, Marathi or other sources were also them
fully translated into English.
Before actually writing works, Jadunath Sarkar used to prepare some other essential detailed datum and necessary outfit on the
subject for his own help and guidance. Thus he was in the habit of making a detailed chronology of the entire period at the outset which was later
duly revised, amended and enlarged as the study proceeded. Such a chronology helps the student most advantageously to clarify the movements
of the person whose life is being studied. The gaps in the course of the story, as also in the material available, are easily detected. Personalities
and their exploits can also be thereby seen in their proper perspective and correct focus.
Jadunath Sarkar took equal care to correctly identify all personalities with whom he dealt in the course of his historical studies and
researches, because the continual changes in the spoken names of the Muslim nobles with their promotion in rank, and the similarity in names of
more than one person amongst the Rajputs and the Marathas, have been the cause of constant and major confusions in history.
It was but natural for him to make an all-out effort to correctly identify all the places of historical importance with the help of modern
maps, to find out their actual locations and to collect worthwhile, necessary topographical details about them, while could possibly be helpful in
throwing some additional light on historical events connected with them. Quite often important historical events connected with them.
Completely unknown place, and their obscure names quite often take various incorrect forms which provide a real challenge to a historian.
Jadunath Sarkar spared no pains to correctly trace the movements of persons and armies, and also to describe at length the strategy
and tactics in the various wars and battles, which are very informative and instructive to a student of military history as well. In his boyhood days,
officers, which greatly impressed Jadunath Sarkar. Thence he studied with all due care and in minutest detail, the scenes of various historical
battles and wrote down their accounts as it he were a war correspondent.
Jadunath Sarkar made an extensive use of all extant materials which related to his subject or the period he was studying. Every scholar
working thereafter in the same or related areas has hardly been able to find anything worthwhile that was not utilized by Jadunath Sarkar. Again,
whenever any new and important source material came to light while he was writing about a subject, he would not hesitate in the least to
definitely reject even entire chapters already written, completely ignoring his moths of hard labour on them. He would sit down to rewrite them
once again even though it would entail many more months of fresh uphill work.
Finally, he was constantly revising his printed works by making requisite amendations and additions to them on the basis of such
freshly discovered materials or other worthwhile research studies on the subject. Thus he was able to publish a revised edition of the first, the
second and the third volume of his Fall of the Mughal Empire in April 1949, December 1950 and March 1952, respectively. He had also made
similar amendations and additions in his own copy of the fourth volume by January 1956, for being incorporated in the revised edition whenever
it would be printed.
In each volume of Fall of the Mughal Empire Jadunath Sarkar has given detailed references to the source materials in the footnotes on
which he has based his statements above. Again, in addition to the ‘Abbreviations’ in his first three volumes, he has given at the end of the fourth
volume a detailed list of all the ‘Sources’ utilized by him in this monumental work. All these should necessarily prove helpful to all later
researchers on this period.
In his works he has clearly shown by example that “writing a history that will life requires not only more industry in collecting
materials, but what is far higher-extensive reading, power of deep thinking and connecting together the near and distant, things Indian and foreign
[by way of comparative estimate and liberal interpretation]”. The historian must have a critical acumen and the power of historical reconstruction
which are so very essential for producing eminent and original works of history.
Jadunath Sarkar never wrote for sheer effect but always for measured truth. He is always calm and dispassionate, severely just and yet
possessed of enough fire and firmness to admonish a brave nation like the Marathas. He impartially relates the decline and the fall of a great
empire with its titulary emperor seeking protection and sustenance from a foreign power.
“The Mughal empire and with it the Maratha overlordship of Hindustan,” wrote Jadunath Sarkar, “fell because of the rottenness of the
core of the Indian society. This rottenness showed itself in the form of military and political helplessness. The country could not defend itself,
royalty was hopelessly depraved or imbecile; the nobles were selfish and short-sighted; corruption, inefficiency and treachery disgraced all
branches of the public service. In the midst of this decay and confusion, our literature, art and even true religion had perished.” Consequently
with real anguish he realized that the last chapter of his Fall of the Mughal Empire even more truly dealt with the fall of the Maratha empire, to
which he had given the finishing touches on the night of the eighty-sixth birthday - 15th May 1950 - of his Maharashtrian colleague, Govind
Sakharam Sardesai, the historian of the Marathas.
Jadunath Sarkar goes on to finally conclude: “I can say that I have written it, not with ink but with my heart’s blood. In saying so, I am
not thinking of the personal sorrows and anxieties which have clouded the evening of my day, nor of the minute study and exhausting labour that
had to be devoted to the study in this terrible summer heart, but the subject matter of the last chapters, the imbecility and vices of our rulers, the
cowardice of their generals, and the selfish treachery of their ministers. It What more one can say about this great work, save merely repeat the
words of its author, “my task is done”.
Preface to the Second Edition
Since the first edition of this work came out in 1932, three very scholarly treatises have been published which have descanted upon three
sections of my subject with a minuteness of detail and an accuracy of criticism not called for in a general history like mine. These are : Dr
Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava’s First Two Nawabs of Oudh, 1933 (followed by Shuja-ud-daulah, in two volumes), Dr Raghubir Sinh’s Malwa in
Transition, 1936; and Dr Hari Ram Gupta’s History of the Sikhs in three volumes, 1939-44 (followed by Studies in the Later Mughal History of
the Punjab, 1944). For an intensive study of these subjects the student must go to the abovementioned works as their authors have used not only
my Persian, Marathi and English sources but also certain other authorities specially dealing with these branches which I did not consider
necessary for my purpose.
During this interval of seventeen years my own materials have been amplified by several Marathi records, made recently available,
such as the remaining volumes of the Selections from the Peshwa Daftar, now complete in forty-five volumes; the Purandare Daftar in three
volume; the Holkar Shahichya Itihasanchi Sadhanen in two volumes, edited by B.B. Thakur, and above all the Kota Daftar of Sardar Gulgule; the
new Persian sources are the Akhbarats from many countries and places; the state archives of Jaipur which were thoroughly explored in 1938; and
the dispatches of Ahmad Shah Abdali, a selection of which I have published in an English translation in the Modern Review, May 1946. The
Poona Residency Correspondence series, edited by G.S. Sardesai and myself for the Bombay Government, is now nearly completed in fourteen
volumes and most helpfully supplements the Marathi and Persian records where they run dry after 1794.
These copious new materials have been used in preparing my second edition, and the opportunity has been taken to remove some
blemishes and misprints of the first edition, and to incorporate the changes in my opinion caused by the new materials and my own reflections
during the intervening years.
The cost of book production is now four times what it was when I printed my first edition and this fact has forced austerity standards
of For avoiding confusion I have uniformly used the titles of Muin-ul-mulk for ‘Mir Mannoo’ of the European writers, Intizam for
‘Itimad-ud-daula Khan-i-Khanan’, and Imad-ul-mulk for ‘Ghazi-ud-din II’
Orient Longman have over the last two decades acquired the re-publication rights of many major works of Sir Jadunath Sarkar. These have
already been reprinted several times under our imprint. We now plan to issue them in a standard format, with certain editorial changes and
additional features which, we hope, will enhance the utility of these volumes to students of history.
We are grateful to Dr Raghubir Sinh of Sitamau, a close associate of Sir Jadunath, for having written the foreword to Fall of the
Mughal Empire. We also thank Dr Nisith Ranjan Ray, Director, Institute of Historical Studies, Calcutta, for his help in preparing the further
reading list and in completing the list of Sir Jadunath Sarkar’s works, both of which appear as appendices.
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