Mar 20, 2010

Hindu Hero of Haryana - Gokula Singh Jat

Gokula - Chieftain of Sinsini/Tilpat

Gokula (Hindi: गोकुला) or Gokul Singh (Hindi: गोकुल सिंह) (died 1670 AD) was a Jat chieftain of Tilpat in Haryana. His father's name was Madhu. Madhu had four sons namely, Sindhuraj, Ola, Jhaman and Saman. The second son Ola later became famous as Gokula.[2] Gokula provided leadership to the Jat peasants who challenged the Imperial power. Gokula inspired the Jats to fight the Mughals.

Condition of Hindus at the time:

It is important to know the condition of Hindus and our situation during those times in the country to understand the actions of Veer Gokula Singh. In the year 1658 A.D the fanatical Muslim Aurangzeb becomes the Mughal Emperor and embarks on a zealous mission to convert Hindus to Islam through any method possible. The atrocities of Aurangzeb on Hindus are too numerous and well known and need not be repeated here but it is important that we look at the situation of Hindus in Mathura and the adjacent areas since that was the place where Gokla was living at that time.

The fanatical Mughals used to administer the area through officers named faujdars, one of them was Murshid Quli Khan who died in 1638 A.D, and he used to raid villages for capturing beautiful women. In the words of Sir Jadunath Sarkar “the Khan, painting his forehead and wearing a dhoti like a Hindu used to walk up and down in the crowd. Whenever he saw a woman whose beauty filled even the Moon with envy, he snatched her away like a wolf, pouncing upon a flock, and placing her in the boat which his men kept ready on the bank (of the Jamuna) he sped to Agra.”

Another infamous character of the time was Abdu’n Nabi Khan, the governor (faujdar) of Mathura at that time. In the words of Sri Sita Ram Goel “He plundered the people unscrupulously and amassed great wealth. But his worst offence was the pulling down of the foremost Hindu temple in the heart of Mathura and building a Jamia Masjid on its site. This he did in AD 1660-61.

Soon after, in 1665, Aurangzeb imposed a pilgrim tax on the Hindus. In 1668, he prohibited celebration of all Hindu festivals, particularly Holi and Diwali.

The Jats who rightly regarded themselves as the defenders of Hindu honor were no longer in a mood to take it lying.”, It was under these trying times that a man named Gokul Singh rose to the occasion for the defense of Hindus of the area.

Rise to fame:

The rise of Veer Gokula Singh from obscurity to a position of importance in Hindu history starts in the year 1669 A.D. Around this time Samarth Ramdas, the Guru of Shivaji Maharaj, was traveling in the area of Gokula and after his sermon in Muzzafarpur area in which he exorted the people to rise to defend dharma “young men, led by Gokula, accepted the exhortation and challenge of the Guru to devote and sacrifice their lives for the motherland. The vows were taken, with a sip of water from the Ganga, and the Yamuna, and the chewing of a pipal leaf.”

The first serious outbreak of anti-imperial reaction took place among the Hindu Jats of Mathura district Uttar Pradesh, where the imperial Mughal faujdar Abdun-Nabi, had oppressed them greatly because they were Hindus. In 1669 the sturdy Jat peasantry rose under a leader, Gokula, Zamindar of Tilpat, killed the faujdar, and kept the whole district in disorder for a year, till they were suppressed by a strong imperial force under Hasan Ali Khan, the new faujdar of Mathura. The valiant Gokula was eventually captured and put to death. His family and many close relatives were forcibly converted to Islam.[3]

Rise of Gokula

Gokula came on scene when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) attempted to convert Dar-ul-Hurb (Hindustan) to Dar-ul-Islam forcibly through persecution and dogmatic policies. The 1669 Jat uprising in India under Gokula occurred at a time when the Mughal government was by no means weak.[4] In fact this period of Aurangzeb’s reign witnessed the climax of the Mughal Empire.[5][6] During the early medieval period frequent breakdown of law and order often induced the Jats to adopt a refractory course.[7] But with the establishment of Mughal rule, law and order was effectively established and there were no major Jat revolts during the century and a half preceding the reign of Aurangzeb,[8] though in 1638 Murshid Quli Khan, the Mughal faujdar of Mathura, was killed during an operation against Jats. During the reign of Aurangzeb, the faujdar of Mathura in 1669 was Abdunnabi, who incurred the wrath of the people.[9]

In early 1669, Aurangzeb appointed a staunch follower of Islam, Abdunnabi, as faujdar of Mathura to curb the Hindus of this area. Abdunnabi established a cantonment near Gokul Singh and conducted all his operations from there. Gokula organized the Hindu farmers not to give taxes to the Mughals. The Mughal soldiers retaliated, beginning the struggle of the farmers.

Meanwhile Aurangzeb issued orders on 9 April 1669 to abolish the Hindu temples. As a result a large number of ancient Hindu temples of priceless heritage from the ancient period of Kushans were damaged.[10] During May 1669 the faujdar Abdunnabi seized the village Sihora. Gokula was there waiting for him and there was a fierce battle in which Gokula killed Abdunnabi.

Gokula and his fellow farmers moved further, attacked and destroyed the Sadabad cantonment. Sadullakhan had founded Sadabad during the period of Shahjahan. This incidence inspired the Hindus to fight against the Mughal rulers.[11] The battles continued for five months.[12]

The outbreak of the Jat rebellion

The year 1669 witnessed, the bursting forth of the pent up fury of the Jats into a very powerful revolt under the inspiring leadership of Gokula, the zamindar of Tilpat. A remarkable feature of this rebellion was its composite character. [13] Though the Jats counted for its majority and provided leadership to it, it consisted of other local people as well such as, Meo, Meena, Ahir, Gujjar, Naruka, Panwar and others. [14] The rebels gathered at the village of Sahora (about 6 miles from Mathura). Abdun Nabi, the faujdar of Mathura, attacked them. At first he appeared to be gaining ground, but in the middle of the fighting he was killed on 12 May 1669. [15], [16], [17], [18]

Overjoyed at this success, Gokula ravaged the paragana and town of Sadabad (24 miles from Mathura) in the Daob. [19], [18], [20] The turbulence spread to Agra district also whereto Radandaz Khan was sent (13 May) with a force to put down the rebels. Aurangazeb appointed Saf Shikan Khan as the new faujdar of Mathura. [21], [22] As arms failed to prevail, diplomacy was resorted to. The Mughal government offered to forgive Gokula provided he surrendered his spoils. But Gukula spurned the offer.

The success they tasted soon stirred the Hindus of the area to rebel against the Mughal authority; the disturbance caused by them was severe enough to warrant an offer from the Mughal regime to Gokula according to which he was offered forgiveness if he stopped his rebellious activities. Gokula turned down this offer and continued his rebellion; soon Aurangzeb himself sent a strong force under the command of Radandaz Khan, Hasan Ali Khan and other officers.

On the other side, as the situation was assuming serious proportions, the Emperor had to proceed (28 November 1669) in person to the Disturbed area. On his way on 4 December 1669, Aurangzeb learnt of the circumstance of rebellion in the villages of Rewara, Chandarakanta and Sarkhud (Sarkharu). He dispatched Hasan Ali khan to attack these places. Till noon the insurgent fought with bows and muskets. Getting desperate thereafter, many of them having performed the jauhar of their women fell upon the Khan.

The Mughal forces delivered an attack on these three fortified Jat villages and in the words of K R Qanungo: “Hassan Ali delivered an attack upon three fortified villages of the Jats and won a very costly victory. The Hindu peasants fought long and steadily, displaying that cool obstinate valour which had ever characterised them. When resistance became hopeless, many of them slew their women to prevent a lifetime of sexual slavery under the Mughals and rushed upon the Mughals to sell their lives dearly.” Thus ended the first major battle against the Mughals in which Gokula’s forces made the Mughals pay dearly despite heavy odds against them.

A fierce fight raged till the evening in which many imperialists and 300 rebels were killed. Hasan Ali Khan returned to the Emperor, taking 250 male and female prisoners. Aurangazeb was pleased with his performance. He made him the faujdar of Mathura in place of Saf Shikan Khan who had obviously failed in suppressing the rebels. [23], [24], [25]

Under Hasan Ali Khan were placed 2,000 barqandaz troops, 1000 archers, 1000 musketeers, 1,000 rocketmen, and 25 pieces of cannons. Amanullah, the faujdar of the environs of Agra, was also ordered to help Hasan Ali. The latter immediately got engaged in quelling the rebellion.

The battle of Tilpat

Gokula Singh, with 20,000 Jat and other Hindu followers, rushed forward to face the Muslims at a place 20 miles from Tilpat. Both the sides suffered many casualties in the battle in which the Jats, despite showing utmost bravery, could not cope with the trained Mughals and their artillery. They took shelter in the Jat stronghold, Tilpat.

Hasan Ali followed them and besieged the Tilpat fort. Fighting continued for three days in which muskets and bows were used by the contestants. On the fourth day, the Muslim invaders charged the besieged fort from all sides and having made a breach in the walls entered Tilpat. Then ensued a sanguinary conflict. The Jats displayed their reckless courage and undaunted valour. The experienced Mughals gained the day but not before losing 4,000 men. Of the valiant Jats, 5000 lay dead, while 7000 were captured.

The gravity of this war can be understood from the fact that the Emperor Aurangzeb had to march himself on November 28, 1669 from Delhi to curb the Jat threat. The Mughals under Hasan Ali Khan attacked Gokula Jat. [26]

Gokula and his uncle Uday Singh with a united Hindu army of 20,000 Jats, Ahirs and Gujjars fought with superb courage and tenacity, the battle at Tilpat, but their grit and bravery had no answer to the Mughal artillery. It was only after three days of grim fighting that Tilpat fell. Losses on both sides were very heavy.

Gokula hacked to death

After the loss of Tilpat, Gokula and his uncle Uday Singh (who also fought in the battle of Tilpat) were captured alive through the efforts of Shaikh Razi-ud-Din, the peshkar of Hasan Ali Khan. They were imprisoned and was taken to Agra along with other captives. Many of the Jat womenfolk committed Jauhar to escape the clutches of the Mughals.

At Agra, all surviving prisoners were presented to the Emperor Aurangzeb. Gokula was offered pardon if he accepted Islam. Gokula was asked by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam if he wished to live.

On hearing this, the fearless Gokula asked Aurangzeb to offer his daughter to him in return, to poke fun at the Muslim emperor. Gokula, the defiant Hindu warrior, laughed and rejected the pardon by emphasizing that he would prefer to be killed rather than becoming a traitor to his Hindu religion.

This enraged Aurangzeb and he ordered the execution of Gokula. On January 1, 1670, following the orders of Aurangzeb, Gokula was hacked to death limb-by-limb, piece-by-piece on the platform of Agra Kotwali (Agra Police Office) and the same barbaric death was given to his uncle Uday Singh. Thus ended the lives of both the heroes and both attained martyrdom in fighting the tyranny of the Muslims but refused to give up their religion.

After Gokula's death, his family and close relatives were forcibly converted to Islam. According to Sri Sita Ram Goel “the capture and murder of Gokul with fiendish cruelty and the forcible conversion of his family members to Islam, coincided with the destruction of the Keshavadev (Krishna Janmabhoomi) temple in Mathura.”

Other Jat captives either met the same horrendous fate of their leader or were put in chains after forcible conversion to Islam. [27], [28], [24], [29]

Gokula may have passed away defiant but his death inspired many more rebellions among Jats against the Mughal authority and these rebellions would eventually lead to the establishment of the famed kingdom of Bharatpur. Hindus of today need to remember and honor such heroes without whom our religion and culture would not have survived.

Hopefully, many more Gokulas will be born among Hindus and will lift up the precarious condition of our country.

Jai Durga Ma.


1. ^ "GC Dwivedi's History".

2. ^ a b Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 5

3. ^ R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Raychaudhari, Kalikinkar Datta: An Advanced History of India, 2006, p.490

4. ^ Girish Chandra Dwivedi, The Jats – Their role in the Mughal empire, Ed by Dr Vir Singh. Delhi, 2003, p. 15

5. ^ J.N.Sarkar, History of Auranzeb (Calcutta): 1912, I, Introduction, XI-XIII

6. ^ F.X. Wendel, Memoires des Jats, 10

7. ^ J.N. Sarkar, History of Auranzeb (Calcutta): 1912, I, Introduction, XXVIII f.

8. ^ Girish Chandra Dwivedi, The Jats – Their role in the Mughal empire, Ed by Dr Vir Singh. Delhi, 2003, p. 15

9. ^ Dr P.L. Vishwakarma, The Jats, Vol. I, Ed Dr Vir Singh, Delhi, 2004, p. 113

10. ^ Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 33

11. ^ Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 34

12. ^ Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 35

13. ^ Girish Chandra Dwivedi, The Jats – Their role in the Mughal empire, Ed by Dr Vir Singh. Delhi, 2003, p. 25

14. ^ Ganga Singh, op. cit., I, p. 64-65

15. ^ Maasir, p. 83

16. ^ Roznamcha also known as Ibratnama by Muhammad (R.S.L. Ms p. 133

17. ^ Kamwar (pers. Ms.), II, p. 163

18. ^ a b Maasir-ul-Umra, I, p. 437, 618

19. ^ Maasir, p.93

20. ^ Fatuhat, 9pers. Ms.) 53a

21. ^ Maasir, p.83, 84

22. ^ Maasir-ul-Umra, I, p. 618, II, p. 673

23. ^ Maasir, p. 91-92

24. ^ a b Kamwar (Pers. Ms.), II, p. 166

25. ^ sarkar, Aurangzeb, III, p. 294

26. ^ Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 39

27. ^ Fatuhat (Pers. Ms.), p. 53a-53b

28. ^ Maasir, p. 93-94

29. ^ Maasir-ul-Umra, I, p.437, 618

30. ^ Narendra Singh Verma: Virvar Amar Jyoti Gokul Singh (Hindi), Sankalp Prakashan, Agra, 1986, p. 50

• Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Delhi, 1934