PASHCHIMI BENGAL

WEST BENGAL

 

 

 

HISTORY

HERALDRY

West Bengal

West Bengal Police

Calcutta

Calcutta Police

Cooch Behar

 

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History

 

In 1534, the Pashtun Sher Shah Suri, or Farid Khan defeated the forces of the Mughals under Humayun, captured both Delhi and Agra and established a kingdom stretching far into Punjab.

 

After Humayun's death in 1556 his successor Akbar defeated the Karani rulers of Bengal in 1576. Administration by governors appointed by the court of the Mughal Empire (1575-1717) gave way to four decades of semi-independence under the Nawabs of Murshidabad, who respected the nominal sovereignty of the Mughals in Delhi. The Nawabs granted permission to the French East India Company to establish a trading post at Chandernagore in 1673, and the British East India Company at Calcutta in 1690.

 

When the British East India Company began strengthening the defences at Fort William (Calcutta), the Nawab, Siraj Ud Daulah, at the encouragement of the French, attacked. Under the leadership of Robert Clive, British troops and their local allies captured Chandernagore in March 1757 and seriously defeated Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa at the Battle of Plassey on June 23, 1757. The Nawab was assassinated in Murshidabad, and the British installed their own Nawab for Bengal and extended their direct control in the south. This victory estranged the British and the Mughals, since Siraj Ud Daulah was a Mughal feudatory ally. But the Mughal empire was already on the wane after the demise of Aurangzeb, and was breaking up into pieces and enclaves. After the Battle of Buxar, Shah Alam II, the ruling emperor, gave up the administrative rights over Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Clive thus became the first British Governor of Bengal.

 

Company rule in India, which effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey, lasted until 1858, when, following the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and under the Government of India Act 1858, the British Crown assumed direct administration of India in the new British Raj.

In 1905 Bengal was divided into an eastern and a western part but because of Hindu opposition both parts were united in 1912.

As a result of the partition of India after independence, Bengal was divided again in 1947 in an eastern and a western part, the eastern part becoming a part of Pakistan and in 1958 the sovereign state of Bangla Desh

 

Heraldry

 

A very rare evidence of early Bengal heraldry is a silver medal struck by Sultan Jalal al-Din Muhammad of the Ganesha Dynasty of Bengal (1415-’32). This medal shows a lion passant. The purpose of this badge is not very clear. The numismatist G.S. Farid is of the opnion that it was intended to be presented to the Chinese emperor by Chinese ambassadors and soldiers residing at the Bengal court during the early 15th century. Chinese chronicles do indeed record that the Bengal sultans presnted silver coind to members of their Bengal mission, which is just the other way round. [1]

Thus, we may assume that the Bengal ambassadors to the Chinese court were given such medals as a passport which identified them as representatives of the Bengal court. In that case, the lion is the symbol of the Sultan of Bengal.

From the Chinese point of view, the meaning of the lion should have been clear, as a lion was the symbol of a military official of the second rank in Chinese military hierarchy. Even when it was chosen because in Indian symbolism  it was the attribute of Durga, it must be taken for granted that the Sultan of Bengal intended to represent himself as a high military commander which he was indeed.

In this context we must also point to the fact that a lion is an almost universal symbol of a high-ranking warrior. In Muslim symbolism the lion was the symbol of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law and fourth Caliph. In less inconoclastic Muslim societies it was a preferred symbol of a defender of the faith (amir al-mu’minin) and in that quality it was also used by the Persian il-khans. [2]

 

No such medals are known until now of later Bengal rulers.

 

 

Large  silver medal of Sultan Jalal al-Din Muhammad, struck in 1421.

Actual size Æ 6.7 cm.

 

British Presence

 

The first one and a half century of British presence in Bengal was dominated by the Honourable East India Company and as a consequence the achievement of the Company was used in Bengal. This achievement consisted of a red cross on a white shield, with crest, supporters and motto.

 

After the British crown had assumed direct administration of India the achievement of the HEIC was replaced by the achievement of the royal-, and from 1877 for the imperial achievement of the United Kingdom. This consisted of the crowned royal arms with garter, supported by a crowned lion guardant and a unicorn and the motto DIEU ET MON DROIT (God and my Right).

 

The national emblem consisted of a sun radiant, charged with a five-pointed star surrounded by a blue strap with the motto HEAVEN’S LIGHT OUR GUIDE. This emblem was designed for the “Most Exalted Order of the Star of India”, founded 23 Fberuary 1861. It occurred on the blue and red ensign of British India. For use by the Governors General and Viceroys of India, as the main representative of the British Sovereign, the emblem was crowned with the royal crown of the King of the United Kingdom.

 

In 1947 all these emblems were abolished for use in India.

 

The actual emblem of West Bengal consists of a portrait of a veiled Bengal lady and the title “Government of West Bengal” in red latin script.

 

ð See illustration in the head of this essay.

 

West Bengal Police

 

 

The arms of the West Bengal Police are parted per pale Gules and Vert, charged with the emblem of the service being the initials WBP within a garland and crested with the Asoka capital, and with the title of the service below, all Or.

 

CALCUTTA / KOLKATA

 

Modern Kolkata (Calcutta) was founded in 1690 by British trader Job Charnock as a trading post of the English East India Company. In the mid -17th century the Portuguese had a trading outpost in the area at Sutanuti, followed by the Dutch, who constructed a diversion canal at the bank of the Hugli River, near the present Central Business District.

The old Fort William was built to protect the English post in 1696. The city became famous in 1756, in England particularly, when Siraj-ud-Dawlah, a Bengal ruler, captured the fort and, according to British historians, stifled to death 43 British residents in a small guardroom called the Black Hole of Kolkata. The city was recaptured by the British under Robert Clive in 1757. The English initially built an intricate transport network through the Hugli - Ganges water system, but it was the railroads, introduced in the 1850s, that successfully established connections with the hinterland and the rest of India. The city eventually had the largest concentration of trading establishments in India, and a Western-style business district evolved by the end of the 19th century.

 

The Achievement

 

City of ....

 

Arms: Per chevron Or and Sable, a lion passant guardant Gules between two palm-trees eradicated in chief Vert, and a ship under sail in base Argent.[3]

Crest: Issuant out of an eastern crown, a sea-lion holding in the dexter paw a lotus-flower leaved and slipped proper.

Supporters: Adjutant-birds (Ibis leucocephalus - Ciconiidæ) holding in the beak a serpent proper, charged on the shoulder with an eastern crown Or.

Motto: PER ARDUA STABILIS ESTO.

By two patents dated 26th of December 1896.

ï  The ancient seal of Calcutta

 

The Present Emblem

 

 

On 22 February, 1961, the old achievement was changed for a new design. This reflected the spirit and ideals of the newly established Calcutta Municipal Corporation

 

It is:

A Hand of Fire symbolizing Purity and High Ideals in the hands of thepolitical authorities. It also stands for removal of diseases, filth and tardiness.

Below is the motto KOLKATA PAUROSANGSTHA  in Bengali script

It is surrounded by a frame divided in eight parts: In chief are the words  PUROSREE BIBARDHAN in old Bengali scripte between an eight-petalled lotus symbolising Beauty and Culture, and a wheel with eight spokes (dharmachakra), symbolising Industry and Progress.

On the dexter and sinister are fishes which are buddhist auspicious symbols, and stalks of rice representing the main food crop.

In base there is an old Mayurpankshi Boat on three wavy lines depicting the naval trade of southern Bengal of by-gone days in general and of the Region in particular, both ancient and modern. It is between a swastika symbolising all-round prosperity, and a double thunderbolt (vajra) symbolising Force, High Ideals and Electrical Power.

 

Kolkata Police Force

 

The emblem of the Calcutta police consists of an eight-pointed star radiant charged with an eight-pointed cross or Maltese cross, charged with a medaillon with the Asoka capital surrounded by a strap with the name of the service. It is said that the seal signifies upholding Truth, Valour and Justice. “We who enforce the law must not merely obey it. We have an obligation to set a moral example, which those whom we protect can follow.”

 

COOCH  BEHAR

 

 

 

COOCH BEHAR WAS A SMALL INDIAN STATE THAT LASTED FROM 1586 TO 1949.

It was formed when the Kamata Kingdom under the Koch dynasty split following the death of Nara Narayan in 1586.

The eastern portion, Koch Hajo, was soon absorbed by Ahom. The western portion, Koch Bihar, although nominally independent became a vassal state in turn of the Mughal Empire, of Bhutan, and then of the British East India Company.

Maharajas of Cooch Behar

Nripendra Narayan

1863 - 1911

Rajarajendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur

1911 - 1913

Jitendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur

1913 - 1922

Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur

1922 - 1970

Following the Indian Mutiny, the British East India company was replaced by direct rule from the British government - the British Raj.

 

By an agreement dated 28 August, 1949 the maharaja of Cooch Behar ceded full and extensive authority, jurisdiction and power of the state to the Dominion Government of India. The transfer of administration of the state to the Government of India came into force on 12 September 1949. Eventually, Cooch Behar was transferred and merged with the province of West Bengal on 19 January 1950 and from that date Cooch Behar emerged as a new District in the administrative map of West Bengal.

 

A coat of arms was granted to Maharaja Nripendra Narayan at the Durbar in Delhi in 1877. It was:

Raja of ....

 

Arms: Purpure, an annulet Or between a swordblade Vert and a sword proper, hilted of the second.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter, lambrequined Purpure and Or, a monkey sejant Argent.

Supporters: A tiger and an elephant.

Motto: Yato dharmas tato jayah (Where there is Law, there is Victory)

                        (T.25)

 

Some of the data given to Robert Taylor seem to have been misinterpreted by him because the achievement was very soon changed. This can be seen on the gates of the Royal Palace in Cooch Behar, constructed in 1887. Here the swordblade and sword per pale are replaced by two swords in saltire and a balance has been added in chief. The helmet is omitted, the monkey is replaced by the God Hanuman with clubs in both hands, sitting on a globe, the tiger has been replaced by a lion and in the compartment a lotus-flower is added. Like this:

 

Photo NN Internet

 

Another version shows:

 

Arms: Purpure, a blade of grass Vert and a sword proper in saltire, in chief a balance also proper, and in base an annulet Or.

Crest: Hanuman, sitting on a globe.

Supporters: A lion guardant and an elephant.

Motto: Yato dharmas tato jayah (Where there is Law, there is Victory).

Compartment: A lotusplant with buds, a flower and fruit, proper.

(Pine)

 

In this version one of the swords is replaced by a blade of grass to match the ancestral banner of the family which, according to Leithbridge, displays a sword and a blade of grass (with which according to tradition, one of the Maharaja’s ancestors cut of the head of an ennemy as an offering to the goddess Kali).

 

See also: Akshay Chavan: Cooch Behar State Insignia: Symbols of Royalty and Cooch Behar Royal Throne: Where is it Now?

 

 

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© Hubert de Vries 2009-08-22. Updated 2012-08-20

 



[1] Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1993 1993.

[2] A parallel of such a medal is the ‘Ambassadeurspenning’ struck by the government of the United Provinces of the Netherlands for use by diplomats of the Republic (after 1609).

[3] A 18th century ship of the line.