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Thibaw Min and Bahadur Shah Zafar: Unfortunate Kings

Bahadur Shah Zafar

Lets talk first about Bahadur Shah Zafar. He was the last Mogul king of India. In the year 1857, a war of independence was fought by Indian princes and inspired people to drive the British out. Britishers in India called it a rebellion. When the rebellion was crushed by British, he was imprisoned and exiled to Rangoon Burma (now Myanmar) along with his family.

Bahadur Shah Zafar

He was sent away from his kingdom, his people, to yearn for his beloved country and his people. British has no room for sentiments, they were heartless and bent on exploiting the resources and wealth of any place in the world. Asia and Africa were their easy preys. They filled their coffers with unlimited wealth from the countries in these continents. Today we say that India is a poor country and this was not true. If this were the case, the British were not fools to waste their time of two hundred years in India.

So the king was humiliated and along with family consigned to Burma. He was 83 year old. Two of his sons were brutally murdered by British. The British needed any pretext to rule this country and they found it in the form of 1857 rebellion. After this there was no looking back for them till 1947. They ruled with impunity. Took away untold wealth from this country. There were diamonds, cotton, oil, wood and what not.

The king died on 7th November 1862 and was buried near Shwedagon Pagoda. The British thought it prudent to bury him in Rangoon itself. It was not the lot of the King to return to India, his kingdom, even as a dead person. His wife Zeenat Mahal also died there. It is very sad to note that some of members of his lineage are living in utter poverty.

Thibaw Min

Equally sad is the story of Burmese King Thibaw Min. He was the last king of Burma or should we say of upper Burma with its capital at Mandalay which was once an golden city. The king lived in a Glass Palace. He was born in 1859 when Bahadur Shah was still alive. Who knew then that one day the last king of Burma will be exiled in India along with his family like Bahadur Shah Zafar. Both happened to be the last kings of their countries. Both were gentle and kindhearted.

Like pilfering the wealth of India, the British eyed coveted teak wood which grew abundantly in the upper Burma which was at that time not under the control of British. Also there was lot of petroleum oozing by itself from the ground. They were looking for some pretext and found one in the form of king’s encouraging the French and exhorting his people to throw out the British from whole of Burma. The queen Supayalat was more dominating and had eliminated the princes which were contenders along with Thebaw for the throne. The British defeated the Burmese forces and arrested the king  1885 and was sent to Ratnagiri in Maharastra India for exile. At that time, there were two small daughters and queen was expecting the third child which was born on way at Madras.

Thibaw Min with his family

The family lived in a place called Thibaw Palace on a hillock. The locals began revering the king. He was benign. His pastime was to scan the sea at Mandovi Jetty. The family used to visit the Bhagwati temple. It was the king who first noticed the arrival of boats and monsoons and informed the local people about it through an loyal Indian servant by the name of Sawant. The family especially children learnt to speak fluent Marathi and dressing like the local women. The eldest princess had children by Sawant and married him.  The king died in 1916 when he was 58 years old. He died of the heart attack after his second daughter eloped. It is said that one woman of the royal lineage is still living in Ratnagiri. She has married some local mechanic and living in great penury.

Such was the fate of Last Muslim King of India and Last king of Burma.

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