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Rajballabh, Raja


Rajballabh, Raja the Diwan of Dhaka and subsequently the faujdar of Munghyr. A Vaidya by caste, he started his career as a muharrir (treasurer) of the department of qanungo in 1717. From that petty official position, he rose rapidly in the service of the Mughals and became the diwan of Dhaka (1756-57) with the title of 'Maharaja'. Subsequently he rose to the position of the faujdar of Munghyr. His father Krishnajivan also was a muharrir of the Nawara Mahal (fleet maintaining establishment) and later on the Majumdar.

An ambitious man, Rajballabh used his official position and wealth to acquire landed estate that, with its attendant power and privileges, was considered as a hallmark of respectability in the contemporary society. With the acquisition of lands from the districts of Dhaka, Faridpur, Barisal and Tippera, he formed the new pargana of Rajnagar and subsequently extended his zamindari by adding major parts of the estate of vikramapura by questionable means. Rajballabh soon imposed his authority over countless petty taluqdars scattered over Dhaka, Faridpur and specially Barisal.

Rajballabh played a prominent role during the years (1756-63) when the political situation of Bengal was a fluid one. An accomplice of mir jafar and ghaseti begum, Rajballabh incurred the displeasure of Nawab sirajuddaula for the misappropriation of a huge fund during his tenure as the diwan of Dhaka. At his behest his son Krishnadas fled to Calcutta with the embezzled amount and took shelter with the English - a factor that subsequently became one of the causes of Siraj's armed conflict with the English east india company. Nawab mir qasim suspected him of conspiring with the English and put him to death by drowning (1763).

The Rajnagar of Raja Rajballabh displays the architectural skill of the contemporary craftsmen and at the same time it speaks of the taste and economic resources of its patron. [Shirin Akhtar]