Ghulam Qadir Rohilla did not force the Mughal princesses to dance for him ; a blunder by Allama Iqbal

There is a poem of Allama Iqbal by name of “Ghulam Qadir Rohilla” in Banga-i-Dara, the English translation of which, done by Iqbalurdu blog, is given below:

How cruel, tyrant and vindictive the Ruhilah was

He blinded the Mughal Emperor with the point of his dagger

The tyrant ordered members of the royal household to dance
This tyranny was no less than the Judgment Day’s signal

For the delicate ladies of the royal household it was

Utterly impossible to comply with this shameless order


The merciless one made them the means of pleasure
Whose beauty had been veiled from sun’s, moon’s and stars

The feeble hearts were throbbing, the feet were forced to move
A river of blood was flowing from the wet eyes of the princesses

For some time his eyes remained thus absorbed in seeing
In confusion he freed his head from the load of Mighfar

He untied the deadly, fire‐spitting sword from the waist
Whose sharpness was a source of luminescence to the stars

He put the dagger in front, and lied down in some thought
Sleep was demanding rest from the red eyes so to say

The water of sleep extinguished the embers of his eyes
The tyrant’s sight became ashamed of the painful spectacle!

He got up and started saying this to Taimur’s household
“You should have no complaint against your fate”

My sleeping in the couch was a mere show, an affectation
Because stupor is foreign to the dignity of fighters

It was my intention that some daughter of Taimur
Considering me unconscious might kill me with my own dagger,

But at last this secret has dawned to the whole world
Concern for honor has departed from Taimur’s household.”

Ghulam Qadir Rohilla forced Mughal princes (males), not princesses, to sing and dance for him. Allama Iqbal made a blunder there. It does not make sense that Ghulam Qadir would mock Mughal princesses for not possessing courage, ghairat and manliness. Allama Iqbal has misquoted the contemporary source Ibrat-nama (written in c.1790 AD), the author of which writes regarding the incident as follows:

“On the 25th Zil Qada, Ghulam Qadir called Prince Akbar, Suleiman Shikoh, and the other Princes, nineteen in number, before him, and with harsh words called upon them to sing and dance before him. They declined ; but he would not listen to them, saying that he had long heard praises of their singing and dancing. He then commanded his attendants to cut of the Princes’ noses if they did not sing. The princes and boys, seeing there was no escaping from his commands, did as they were directed, and sang and danced. He was very pleased and asked them what recompense they desired. They said, “Our father and children are in great want of water and food, we ask for some”. He gave his consent. He then turned all his attendants out of the room, and, placing his head upon the knees of Prince Akbar, went to sleep, leaving his sword and knife in their presence. He closed his eyes for an hour, and then getting up, he slapped each of them on the neck, and said, “Can such (craven) spirits entertain the idea of reigning? I wanted to try your courage. If you had any spirit, you would have made an end of me with my sword and dagger. ” Then abusing them in foul disgusting words, he sent them out of his presence.” (Translation of an extract of Ibrat-nama by S.M.Elliot).

Ghulam Qadir Rohilla


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