Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pindaris

 The origin of Pindaris is involved in some obscurity. In the opinion of Bladensburg the Pindaris originally were Hindu outlaws. Jenkins however holds that they were of Rohilla or Pathan extraction. Pindaris also had Marathas, Rajputs and Jats in their ranks beside Afghans.[1]

 The Pindaris are said to have descended from two Afghans named Mohammad Khan and Samad Khan of the Yusufzai tribe [2]. Their ancestors , inhabitants of Rohilkhand, had joined Peshwa Baji Rao I near Kalpi with 50 Afghan soldiers[3]. Mohammad Khan and Samad Khan are reported to have distinguished themselves in the service of Peshwa who placed great confidence in them particularly in the former after the death of Samad Khan who was killed in  Rajewara [2].

The Pindaris accompanied Holkar and Schindia when they came to the North. They received marks of favour and encouragement from both of these chiefs, But they cared little for the chiefs under whose orders they served. They soon acquired the habits and character of professional plunderer. The term 'Pindaria' at length became almost proverbial as the Pindaris were mostly Afghans by nationality and military adventures by profession.[4]

These Pindaris were named "Sindhia Shahi" and "Holkar Shahi" Pindaris. The most famous leaders among Sindhia Shahi Pindaris were Namdar Khan, Dost Mohammad , Wasil Mohammad, Chetu Khan, Karim Khan, Kedar Bakhsh, Khajeh Bakhsh, Fazil Khan and Bheekum Khan. Their forces mounted to about thirty thousand and they also had a few guns. The Pindaris were in regular pay of Schindia and Holkar government.

A common misunderstanding regarding Amir Khan (d.1834) of Tonk, Rajasthan, was the assumption that he was a Pindari. This is not correct because he was the leader of a trained army while the Pindaris, on the other hand, accompanied the Marhatta army as scouts.

 References:
1.Madhya Pradesh Through the Ages - Page 174
2. Letter No.134 containing an account of the Pindaris under Sindhia and Holkar, cited in Poona Residency correspondence . Vol.14, p-156-7
3. Ibid.p-157
4. History of the Marathas By R.S. Chaurasia, p-158