Why does a man betray his own country king or empire? This answer is simple and at the same time complex. Some do it for plain jealousy and some for money and women and some for power, that elusive ingredient that is the root of most human traitorous acts. Thus when Ephialtes betrayed Leonidas his reward was revenge and some of the most beautiful Persian girls.
India has had its fair share of traitors. Maybe their numbers would be more than that of all other nations added up together. But that is perhaps due to the fact that India was never a single entity or nation and smaller kingdoms generated greater clan rivalries.
One of the most famous traitors is Mir Jafar who helped Robert Clive win the famous battle of Plessey. (1757). this victory of Robert Clive established British rule in India for the next 200 years. Mir Jafar was thus instrumental in the establishment of British rule. And is given the title ‘Gaddar –e-Hind’. The Battle of Plessey was fought between the troops of the East India Company against the Nawab Siraj-ud- Dowla of Oudh. The Nawab had a force of over a100, 000 while the force of Clive was much smaller. But Mir Jafar just before the battle changed horses and came over to the side of Robert Clive. He expected to be enthroned as Nawab after the battle and readily betrayed his mentor and ruler.
The rest is history as the larger force of the Nawab of Oudh was defeated and Nawab –Siraj-ud-Dowla killed. Mir Jafar was a traitor whose surrender of the forces at Plessey established British rule in India.
The next traitor who comes to my mind is General Labh Singh who abdicated his responsibility during the first Anglo-Sikh war (1845). The Anglo Sikh war started with the battle of Mudki. Joseph Cunningham has recorded in his ‘history of the sikhs’that this battle could very well have been won by the Sikh Army, but for the fact that General Labh Singh the Sikh commander who was in league with the British. Thus at a crucial time phase of the battle Labh Singh ran away from the battle field. This resulted in the Sikh army being denied a decisive victory.
Labh Singh along with the Prime Minister had agreed to betray the Sikhs to the English in return for right to rule Kashmir as maharajah.
Porus and Alexander
Even earlier in 326 BC when Alexander invaded India, he was opposed by King Porus at the famous battle of Hydespes (Jhelum River), now in Pakistan. But the Raja of Taxila a neighboring state of Porus joined up with Alexander against Porus. This was one of the first acts of betrayal and though Porus stopped Alexander his force was severely depleted by the desertion of the Raja of Taxila.
Betrayal of Prithviraj Chauhan
Even in the battles of Tarain which Prithviraj fought against Mohammed Ghouri in the 12th century the role of the traitor Jaichand Rathore a neighboring ruler is worth examining? Raja Jaichand hated the prowess of Prithviraj as he had abducted his daughter. In stead of uniting against the common invader Mohammed Ghouri he refused to join Prithviraj Chauhan. The result was that Ghouri won the battle and established Muslim rule in India. It is recorded that Prithviraj requested Jaichand to unite with him and fight Ghouri, but Jaichand refused and sided with Ghouri.
Jaichand himself did not escape as after the defeat of Prithviraj, Ghouri turned his sword on Jaichand and at the battle of Chandvar decimated him.
Shivaji is respected as a great warrior. He gave battle to the Moguls at a tough time in India’s history when Mogul power was at its apex with Aurangzeb as ruler. Shivaji had eight wives and two sons. Shivaji anointed his younger son as king to succeed him. This angered his elder son who ran away and joined the Muslim force against his father. Considering that the Maharattas were in a life and death struggle against the Mughals this act of treason is hard to explain.
Raja Jai Singh
One name that is not mentioned often is that of Raja Jai Singh, a Hindu Rajput who was a general of the Mughul army. We cannot understand his motivation in siding with the Mughals against the Hindus who were his own brethren. Jai Singh was no mean soldier and won a string of victories for the Moguls including fighting against Shivaji.
India is a great nation, but it was never a cohesive unit and the numbers of traitors thus that have spanned the pages of history are a legion. Otherwise India would not have been conquered. Nationalist spirit was lacking, perhaps we owe this spirit to the English who brought in the one nation concept.