The Scindia Dynasty hails from Kanherkheda, near Satara, in present day Maharashtra. They held the hereditary office of Patil, or village headman. Members of the family joined the Maratha forces under the Chhatrapati Maharajas Shivaji the Great, Shambhaji and Rajaram, serving with valour and distinction in several battles. The family reached the first ranks of the Maratha hierarchy under Ranoji Scindia, a gifted military commander under whose leadership Malwa was conquered. The great fortress of Gwalior, the notorious prison of the Mughals, fell to his forces for the first time in 1738. His five sons, all Maratha generals, were equally distinguished in the field. Mahadji alone survived the military calamities of 1760 and 1761, and it was he who restored the family fortunes. He defeated an army at Wadgaon sent by the HEIC, forced them to accept the Treaty of Sabli, took control of Delhi and other Imperial cities, and secured Mughal recognition of Maratha overlordship. The Emperor became little more than a puppet under his sway.
Daulat Rao, Mahadji's successor, was an equally important military commander. He secured some early successes, notably against the Nizam of Hyderabad, ally of the HEIC. However, this renewed his conflict with the British and ended in defeat during the Second Maratha War of 1803-1805. He had no choice but to accept the Treaty of Subsidiary Alliance, offered to him by the Duke of Wellington. The 1857 Mutiny hit Gwalior hard, a large portion of Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia's military forces revolted and went over to the mutineers, compelling him to withdraw temporarily from his capital. Together with loyal nobles and followers he joined the British and participated in the campaigns against the mutineers. For these and other services, he received appointed as one of the first Indian Generals of the British Army. Maharaja Jayaji was also a great reformer, responsible for modernising the administrative, financial and military organs of the state. He died in 1886, leaving his throne to his ten-year old son.
Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia accelerated his father's reform programme, introducing educational reforms, building hospitals, schools and railways on an unprecedented scale and establishing representative institutions. He also reorganised his military forces, personally participated in the Tirah and China campaigns and supervised a considerable contribution in men, medical aid and other resources during the Great War. He died in 1925 after a reign of thirty-nine years, succeeded by George Jivaji Rao, his nine-year old son. During the latter's reign further strides in the fields of female education, medicine, engineering and the judiciary were secured. Representative institutions were modernised with the introduction of majority elected legislative bodies in 1939. Gwalior's contribution to the War effort during World War II was second to none, largely due to his personal efforts. The Maharaja was also instrumental in the establishment of the Madhya Bharat Union of the Central Indian princely states, which enabled their peaceful unification with independent India. He served as Raj Pramukh for eight years, but continued to serve his people even after the abolition of that office in 1956, particularly through the Gangajali Fund and other endowment schemes. His early death in 1961 saw the throne pass to yet another minor, this time his sixteen-year old only son, Madhavrao.
Madhavrao Scindia, received a British public school education, but returned to serve his country and the people of Gwalior for the rest of his life. A Union Member of Parliament since the age of twenty-six, he served in a number of important ministerial posts in Delhi, lately as Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in Parliament. His late mother and sisters have also been active in politics for many years, serving as Union ministers, state MLAs and senior members of the opposition.The Maharaja tragically died in an aeroplane crash with eight others, 30th September 2001.
ARMS: Tenne a cobra passant or; on a chief azure a civic crown between two towers of the second. Helmet: Argent, ornaments or. Crest: Two globes murrey each charged with a cobra sejant or. Supporters: Wolves. Motto: "Ali Jah" (exalted dignity) gules on a riband tenne. Lambrequins: tenne and or.
A rectangular saffron flag with a diagonal red band (from the bottom-hoist to upper-fly), with a golden sun in splendour (with 8-straight and 8-wavy rays, outside of a red circle), with a face of white eyes, black pupils, eyebrows and nose markings, red lips and tilak and chin markings, all between two white cobras.
STYLES AND TITLES:
The ruling prince: Ali Jah, Umdat ul-Umara, Hisam us-Sultanat, Mukhtar ul-Mulk, Azim ul-Iqtidar, Rafi-us-Shan Wala Shukoh, Muhtasham-i-Dauran, Maharajadhiraja Maharaja (personal name) Scindia Bahadur, Shrinath, Mansur-i-Zaman, Fidvi-i-Hazrat-i-Malikha-i-Muazzam-i-Rafi-ud-Darja-i-Inglistan, Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Shrimant Akhand Soubhagyavati Maharani (personal name) Sahiba, Maharani Scindia of Gwalior, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Yuvaraj Shrimant (personal name) Rao Scindia Sahib Bahadur.
Younger sons of the ruling prince: Maharajkumar Shrimant (personal name) Rao Scindia Bahadur.
Daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari Shrimant Akhand Soubhagyavati (personal name) Bai Raje Sahiba.
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family on the failure of natural male heirs.
ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
The Scindia Gold Medal (also known as Mansab-i-Aswadi, or the Order of the Snake): instituted by Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia ca. 1900. An eight-pointed star awarded in two classes (1. First class, gem set and 2. Second Class, in gold).
The Gwalior Medal: instituted by Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia in 1907. Awarded in three classes (1. Gwalior Gold Medal, 2. Gwalior Silver Medal, and 3. Gwalior Copper Medal).
The Scindia Gold Medal first class (L) and the Gwalior Copper Medal (R).
GLOSSARY: Ali Jah: exalted dignity. Azim ul-Iqtidar: Chief of the Highest Authority. Farzand-i-Arjimand: worthy son. Fidvi-i-Hazrat-i-Malikha-i-Muazzam-i-Rafi-ud-Darja-i-Inglistan: vassal of Her Majesty the honoured and exalted Queen of England.
Hisam us-Sultanat: Sword of the Kingdom. Maharaja: great prince. Maharajadhiraja: great prince of princes. Mansur-i-Zaman: the victorious of the age. Muhtasham-i-Dauran: the most powerful of the state. Mukhtar ul-Mulk: Agent of the Kingdom. Naib ul-Istiqlal-i-Maharajadhiraj Sawai Madhav Rao Narayan: permanent deputy of Maharajadhiraj Sawai Madhav Rao Narayan (i.e. the Peshwa).
Rafi-us-Shan: High in Prestige. Sardar: title used by the most senior Mahratta nobles. Sardarni: wife of a Sardar. Shrinath: Lord of Fortune.
Umdat ul-Umara: Pillar (support) of the Nobility.
Wala Shukoh: Exalted in Dignity.
C.U. Aitchison. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries. Vols. IV and V Containing The Treaties, &c., Relating to the Central India Agency. Part I-Central India and the Mediatized Chiefs & Part II-Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand. Revised and continued up to the 1st June 1906 By the Authority of the Foreign Department. Superintendent Government Printing, India. Calcutta, 1909.
Mukund Wamanrao Burway, Life of Ranoji Rao Scindia, Founder of the Gwalior State, Bombay, 1917.
Raghunath Vinayak Herwadkar, A Forgotten Literature: Foundations of Marathi Chronicles. Popular Prakashan, 1994.
Vidayanand Swami Shrivastavya. Are Rajput-Maratha Marriages Morganatic? D.K. Shrivastavya (for Aitihasik Gaurav Grantha Mala), Poona, 1952.
Captain C.E. Luard, MA, IA. Gwalior State Gazetter. The Central India State Gazetter Series. Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1908.
Major C. Eckford Luard, IA, MA (compiler). Chiefs and Leading Families in Central India. Government of India, Calcutta, 1916.
Major-General Sir John Malcolm, GCB, KLS. A Memoir of Central India, including Malwa, and adjoining provinces, with the history, and copious illustrations of the past and present condition of the country. Third edition. Parbury, Allen & Co, London, 1832.
Fanny Parkes, Wanderings of a Pilgrim. Vol. 1 & 2. Pelham Richardson, London, 1850.
Surendra Nath Roy, A History of the Native States of India, Volume I, Gwalior. Thacker Spink & Co., Bombay, 1888.
Rulers, Leading Families and Officials in the States of Central India, Fifth Edition. Manager of Publications, Delhi, 1935.
Vijaya Raje Scindia with Manohar Malgonkar, The Last Maharani of Gwalior, An Autobiograbhy. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 1987.
These pages are dedicated to the memory of the late Maharaja Madhavrao Scindia, whose help, encouragement and generosity in creating them will always be very greatly valued.
Rahulraje Bhoite Sarnobat.