Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Kohinoor diamond and the curse - Fall of British Empire?

Diamond, God's  unique  and  fascinating  creation, is  a symbol  of  eternal  love  for woman, a way of expressing a man's  intense  desire  to have  a  woman as his  life's  partner  to  begin  the  tedious  and challenging  life's  journey.  Diamonds  are  girls' best friend  and  a  man's  best tool  to assure  a  woman  of  his  promise  of  sustained  love  and  security  for  life. As  for  rich  people, possessing  an expensive  diamond is  a  status symbol. Its aura is unique  among all gems.  
The Koh-i-Noor diamond.
No  other  precious  stone   invokes  as  much  mystery and  fear  and  at the  same  time  awe   as  a diamond does.  The threat  of  the  Koh-i-Noor  diamond's  curse  was  very  much  there  and  it  caused  a  sense  of  uneasiness  among  the  owners.  Indian people  believe  a pure  diamond   without   blemish (in local parlance "Thosham")  will  bring  in fortune.  Hence  diamond buyers  here  are  tempted  to  ask  all  kinds  of  questions  to  the  traders  regarding ''thosham,'' meaning  bad  luck  or  blemish. Literally it means any microscopic  crack  or  cleavage  in  it. Most minerals and gems do have cleavage(s) as thin as hair.

Geologically  speaking, the  gemstones  and  diamonds  are  formed  several miles  far deep  below  the  earth's crust-mantle -  140 and 190 kilometers (87 and 118 miles)  under  certain  optimum  temperature  and pressure  in  certain parts of the earth.  The magma - molten rock  liquid  is  pushed  up  to  the  earth's  surface  during  volcanic  eruptions. Later  the  hot  lava (magma that is pushed to the surface), under  different   temperature  conditions  solidifies   and   forms  minerals  in  crystal  forms  of  various  sizes  and rocks. Because of  inner  textural  changes,   invariably  most  of  the  minerals  and gemstones  develop  cleavage  which  may  be  microscopic  or  otherwise  along  with  some  impurities. Cleavage  patterns  depend  on  the  nature  of  packing  of atoms  in a mineral. So, as  such, it  is  difficult  to  come  across cent  percent   perfect  crystal  of  any  mineral. Stable  parts  of continental  plates where regions of  lithosphere  known  as  Cratons  that allow diamond  crystal to grow. Diamonds, with  free  nitrogen  and  good  natural  reflection  are  considered  to  be  of  high quality. India' s  famous  diamonds originating  from  Kollur-Golconda  mines  belong  to  this  category.

Koh-i-Noor diamond, one  of  the  most  famous diamonds, was  once  the  largest  known gem stone  in  the world. It was mined  at  Kollur  Mines, in the present  new state  of  Telengana, in southern India.  Originally  weighed 793 carats when uncut, it  is  now  a 105.6 metric  carat  diamond, weighing  21.6 grammes in its most recent cut state. It's  double  is  the Darya-ye Noor (the “Sea of Light”) diamond.

Turning  our  attention back  to  curses  purportedly  some  famous  diamonds  carry,  many  incidents  diamond  owners  were  reported  to  have  experienced  have  a mixture  of  both  objective  as well  as  subjective  elements.  As  for  the Kohinoor diamond, whoever   possessed it,  had  his  or  her  share  of  misery  and  misfortune that  affected them very much psychologically.

The  Curse  of  Kohinoor  Diamond  dates back  to  a Hindu  text  from  the  time  of  the  first  authenticated  appearance  of  the  diamond  in 1306. The Curse  of  the  Kohinoor  Diamond reads:

“He  who  owns  this  diamond  will  own  the  world, but  will  also  know  all  its  misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can  wear  it with  impunity.”

The  history  and  lives  of  the  rulers  who  owned  the Koh-i-Noor  diamond   were  filled  with bouts  of violence, murders, and mayhem, mutilations,  torture  and  treachery. The following unexpected, sad  incidents seem to have some kind of link with the precious stones possessed by the owners who happened to be rulers or rich people:

01. The Yadhavs  of  the  Kakathiyas  dynasty - a Telugu empire - 1083 to 1323 AD  originally  owned  this  diamond  and  had  it  installed  it  in  a  temple  of  a Hindu  goddess  as  her  eye in  the  early 14th  century. 
kakathya dynasty,
In 1294, Malik  Kafur  led  the  Khilji's army through the Mountain  range, attacking the capital  city  of  the Yadava  kingdom of Devagiri.

The army of Turkic Khilji dynasty began raiding kingdoms  of  southern  India  for loot.  Malik Kafur, an eunuch and  Alauddin Khilji's  military general, made  a successful raid on Warangal in 1310. He  looted  the treasury of  Kakatiya   kingdom  and  Hindu temples. The ruler was  Pradapapudra. The booty, according to Al-Birani, historian, included  214 tons of gold and countless  gemstones  including  the Koh-i-noor  diamond. The diamond remained  with  Khilji  dynasty, and  later  passed  on  to  the  succeeding  dynasties  of  the  Delhi Sultanate.  According  to  Babur  Nama (first version of written  version  of  diamonds  custody  by  Emperor  Babur). Allauddin Khilji   was the first ruler  to  seize  Kohinoor from  the  Hindu king.

 02. Delhi  Sultan,  who  owned  the gemstone, was later betrayed by Malik Kafur who tried to take over the Sultanate.

03. Malik Kafur was  a homosexual and  had a  close  relationship  with  his master 
Allauddin Khilji. After  the  death  of  Khilji, he blinded  two of  the heir princes and  made the third, the King,  35 days  after the death of his lover.  Kaufer was  later assassinated  by his close associates who could not bear his atrocities  and obnoxious character  and  at last  he met with tragic death.

04. When the Moguls (descendants of Timuroid) took  the  control  over the  empire after Lodi , they had all kinds  of  problems  both within  the  royal  family  and in the management of various regions. Aurangazeb, who  was  an  ardent  collector  of  precious  stones, killed  his own  brothers, imprisoned  his  sick  father  and  seized  the  throne. He did not have good relationship with his sister either as she had begun to dislike his cruel nature.. He became a religious  bigot India  had ever known  - suppressed  the  Hindus,
who  formed  the  majority, and  destroyed innumerable temples. He  waged  several costly  battles particularly against the mighty Marathas and  ultimately  emptied the Mogul  treasury. In the twilight of his life, he was not not happy  and the Mogul economy was in shambles. Aurangazeb   had  the  diamond  cut and the new  weight of the stone  was 186 carats.

05. After Aurangazeb, the Mogul empire became powerless  and  had  no  resources  to  maintain the army. Their reputation and influence hit the rock bottom. The last Mogul ruler  Bagadur Shah Safar suffered a lot during the British occupation.

06. Nadir Shaw, the  ruler  of Afsharid Persia of  Persian  empire  invaded  Delhi 1739  at the  right time, brutally plundered  Delhi  and  made  the Mogul ruler  bleed.  Along  with  the Peacock  Throne, he also carried off the Koh-i-Noor to Persia. That  was  the  beginning of  the  fall  of Mogul Empire and beginning of trouble for the Persian ruler as well.
Portrait of Nader Shah. en.wikipedia
 07. Later, the  proud  owner  of  Kohinoor Nadir Shah saw his downfall, went mad  and became very cruel. He burdened the people with heavy tax to wage wars and ultimately he  was  assassinated in 1747, thus paving the way for the down fall of the Persian empire. Later  the stone came into the hands of his general, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, who later became the Emir of Afghanistan in 1830.

08. Subsequently  the deposed Emir of  Afghanistan and  a descendant of Ahmad Shah Durrani, managed to  flee with the diamond. Later  there  was some dispute over the ruling class. The wife of  Shah Suja (Momumud brothers) sought the help of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab.  The Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh got the  stone surreptitiously in return for his help.

09. The British came to India in 1600 just as traders;  after 

 the  Moguls  became  powerless, through  coercion, trick and cunningness  took  away many  parts  of  the  Indian subcontinent and made the rich, affluent Maharajahs  and  Nawobs powerless and  slashed their money power.  Maharajah Ranjit Singh was the  founder  and  ruler  of  the  Sikh Empire based in  Punjab region of India and died  in 1839.  On 29 March, 1849, Punjab  became  part of  the  British Crown  and  as per the   terms  of  the  Treaty  of  Lahore and the legal  agreement,  Kohinoor  diamond  became  British possession. Dulip Singh, youngest  son of  Ranjit Singh and his fifth
Maharani Jind Kau anf young  Dulip,

Queen Victoria in 1887,
wife  Maharani Jind Kaur.  Dulīp, aged 13, handed over  the diamond  to the Queen  at a ceremony. On 3 July, 1850  also presented  to  Queen  Victoria  the same day was the world famous  Timur ruby possessed by the Royal family of Punjab. 
Maharajah Duleep
British empire
The British Royal family members were obviously aware of the  curse of  the  Kohinoor:
"all the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them!"  

And from the reign of Queen Victoria, when the Kohinoor 
diamond came into their possession, it has always gone to the wife of the male heir to the British throne.

After the arrival of this diamond in England,  the British  began  to lose  the  empire  one  by  one - Indian sub continent, their military muzzle  south of the Suez and a major source of revenue became a separate country in August 1947. An early symptom of disintegration  of the empire was Britain's withdrawal from India in 1947.  

In the world war II Britain did not achieve any thing on its own. Russians and Americans took the credits. The Suez canal crisis in 1950's  further weakened them. Their political differences with Ireland  and countries like Rhodesia  became thorns. The 1956 Suez  canal  crisis blatantly exposed Britain's military and financial weakness.  Ghana and Malaya became independent  in 1957; later Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda between 1961 and 1963. The white settlers of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) gave  so  much trouble in 1965, it became an unrecognized independent country  under Ian Smith.

As for British  Royal  family  members, they had their own share of  trouble. Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy  of India (1947-48), a  close member of the British royal family, his grand son and others were  killed in a bomb attack (1979) in Ireland. Incidentally Lord Mountbatten and his wife were close friends of first Prime Minister of India Pandit Nehru.

After  Prince  Charles marriage with  Ms. Diana Spencer, the couple  had serious marital problems which became a fodder for the news - hungry British and other media world over. Their marriage  ended in divorce on 28 August, 1996. Ms. Diana won the heart of people world over through her humility, care for the poor and charity. Alas, her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August, 1997 was followed by intense public mourning. Now the  royal  family  is  not  financially  doing  well because their dole - royal maintenance allowance had been cut.

The domino effect that began with the loss of  India was a great and staggering blow for the British world power.  Is the curse  of  Kohinoor  diamond  plucked from the Hindu God's eye  centuries ago responsible for the  fall of the British Empire by 1960's? It is an enigma!!

Tit Bits:

The Golconda  region  now  forms  the newly carved state of Telengana. It is about 11 miles near Hyderabad, major IT center in the world. Golla Konda means ''Shepard hill.''Golconda  was  the  capital  of  a Sultanate  - 1518 to 1687.

The diamond is now part of the Royal  British Jewelry collection kept in the London Tower museum and is a permanent remainder of  British rule in India as follows:  

The British, during  their oppressive rule from the Himalayas  in the north to the tip of Kanyakumari, S. India, made every talented Indian bled. No Maharajahs, Nawobs, no tribal community and others had escaped their  discrimination, tyranny, double-crossing, exploitation  and out-right cheating, not to speak of  over exploitation of Indian workers as slaves in other British colonies. They created artificial famines in Bengal that left millions dead. Thanks to the generosity of Sir Winston Churchill, the conservative political leader. Gen. Reginald Dyer  massacred innocent people  including children and women  in  Jalianwala Bagh, Punjab in 1900's  under silly excuse.  They saw to it that that the united  India was divided on communal lines before leaving the Indian soil in August 1947.

However, there were scores of nice British gentlemen who supported India all the way. By the same taken, there were numerous British engineers and officials who served India in a selfless way far above politics and in true Christian spirit. Indians will never forget these great British people who really stood for the British spirits and impartiality and served the Indian natives under odd circumstances.  


Abul Fazal: Akbarnama. Translated into English by Henry Beveridge. 
Fascinating History of World Best Diamonds.". The Northern Star (Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 May 1953. p. 6. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

Gopal, Madan (1990). K. S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 217.'s Commander:

Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste: Travels in India. Translated into English by Valentine Ball and William Crooke
Tavernier's discussion on the Diamond in Appendix

Famous Monuments of India; Anu Sharma ; Pinnacle Technology, 2011; ISBN=1618205455,  9781618205452.

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