Posted by: Singh Is King | Sunday, August 19, 2007

From A Maharaja, To A Tsar

The letter of Maharaja Duleep Singh to the Emperor of Russia, dated May 10, 1887, and leave you to debate the political mind and maturity of the man whose mere bust led to so much hype in the media when it was being auctioned. The letter’s source is its photocopy preserved in the National Archives of India, New Delhi. – Editor


“Before proceeding to lay before the Imperial Government the humble prayer both of the Princes and People of India for deliverance from their oppressors, I think it necessary to state here that for myself I seek no gain whatsoever, for I am a patriot and only seek to deliver some 250,000,000 of my countrymen from the cruel yoke of the British Rule and to benefit the deliverer at the same time and will serve the Imperial Government (should it think proper to employ me) without any remuneration whatsoever.

Through my cousin Sirdar Thakar Singh (a man well known both in the Panjab and mostly all over India) I have been deputed by most of the powerful Princes of India to come to Russia and to pray the Imperial Government to take their cause in hand. These Princes possess altogether some 300,000 soldiers in their services (and are prepared to revolt should the Imperial Government think proper to make an advance upon the British provided that I, their representative, be permitted to accompany the Imperial Army so as to assure them of the generous and gracious intentions entertained towards them by the Emperor, for the English have taken good care to fill the minds of the people of India (who are extremely ignorant) with false reports as to the oppressive nature of the Russian Rule, though the British Government itself has broken solemn engagements whenever it suited its own purposes to do so — having broken two treaties with myself alone.

Among the many advantages that would accrue to the Imperial Government by invasion of India are the following: The Princes of India, when freed and if allowed to manage their affairs in their own way, would join together and pay a large tribute annually into the Russian Treasury. Although I am authorized to name only £3,000,000 per annum yet in my opinion after the settling down of the country they could easily pay between £8,000,000 and £10,000,000. The British raise annual revenue from the country of some £50,000,000 and £60,000,000 sterling, out of which an army of 100,000 Europeans and Officers and English civilians (who receive very high salaries) absorb at least £25,000,000.

The rest is employed in the administration of the country and in the payment of interest upon capital advanced by England for the construction of railroad and upon the Public debt of India and pensions to retired officials in England. Also the import and export trade between England and India amounting to some £50,000,000 per annum each way would be secured to Russia. India is indeed a gold mine to England and most of her wealth has been and is derived from that source. I have been much struck already during my very short stay in Russia with the low value of things in this country from want (in my opinion) of suitable markets for their disposal. But could the same commodities be taken to India I feel persuaded that from 100 to 300 per cent over the prices they fetch here would be realized for them out there. The markets of Central Asia are not to be compared with that of India.
I guarantee an easy conquest of India. For besides the promised assistance of the Princes of India with their armies, it is in my power to raise the entire Panjab in revolt and cause the inhabitants to attack in their rear the British forces sent to oppose Imperial Army.

My loyal subjects would also destroy all railway, telegraphic, and other communication and blow up bridges and cut off all supplies while the Princes revolting would harass the British troops left behind as a reserve. England is only strong at sea but she has no army. She has only some 100,000 Europeans and about the same number of native soldiers in her service in India. Out of the latter some 45,000 men are Panjabees and who are the best soldiers that England possesses in India. All these are loyal to me and will come over at once to the side of Russia (provided that I be permitted to accompany the Imperial Army of invasion), should they be sent to confront the Russian troops, or they will attack the opposing British forces in their rear, should these Sikhs be left behind,
Under these circumstances no British army could hold its own, however powerful it might be (which it is not), being attacked both in front and behind.

It may not, perhaps, be out of place with due modesty to state here why I have some power over my countrymen and can render such invaluable services to the Imperial Government in the way described above. In the first place I am the acknowledged head and sovereign of some 20,000,000 (of which about 8,000,000 are Sikhs) people of entire Punjab, a country inhabited by the most warlike races of India and are all loyal to me. Secondly the last teacher of the Sikhs prophesied somewhere about 1725 regarding myself and has mentioned me by name in his Prophecy. He has besides other matters predicted also that a man bearing my name would after becoming deposed [dispossessed] of all he had inherited and after residing alone in a foreign country for a long time, return and with aid of a European power free the Sikhs from the cruel bondage that they would be then suffering under for their sins.

Therefore, a great deal can be made out of the Prophecy if properly worked, as the predicted time of its fulfillment is near at hand and the people of the country are extremely ignorant as already stated.

At this moment the whole of India is with me and as soon as the People of Hindoostan are assured of my arrival in Russia their joy will know no bounds at their coming deliverance. With all humility I would endeavour to dissuade the Imperial Government from regarding complications in the South East Europe for the present, because many powers are united to oppose the realization of its wishes in that quarter but to turn its entire attention upon the conquest of India and upon crushing England. For by wrenching India out of the hands of England, the Imperial Government will acquire a source of Great wealth, whereas I greatly doubt that so much will be gained by taking Constantinople.
Further more, if I may be permitted, I would venture to state that, should the invasion of India be entertained in the Imperial councils, an army of not less than 200,000 men and 2000 cannons be provided for that purpose. Not that this force is at all necessary for the conquest of India but to impress wavering Princes and people of that country of the greatness of the resources of Russia and thus half the battle would be gained.

In having thus freely expressed my views, I pray that I may not be considered disrespectful towards the Imperial Government but as a loyal subject of the Emperor (which I already consider myself to be, though I have not yet received the right of naturalization), I feel it my duty to say what I have to say without reserve.

The Imperial Government, whether it thinks proper to invade India or not or to employ me or not, can please itself in the matter for it is no concern of mine.
I have been deputed simply to make an appeal on behalf of 250,000,000 of my countrymen for deliverance from the cruel yoke of the British Rule and having done so my duty is ended and, if graciously permitted by the Emperor to enjoy both liberty and safety in his Majesty’s dominions, I shall occupy myself in sport leaving the Almighty to bring about the deliverance of my unfortunate people in His own good time.

Should the Imperial Government, however, think proper to turn its attention towards the conquest of India and desire my services for that purpose, I would suggest then that 2 or 3 gentlemen speaking English well should be appointed both to further discuss the matter with me and to enquire into the truth of the assertions I have made with regards to India.

May 10, 1887


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