The Exile – A novel based on the life of Maharaja Duleep Singh by Navtej Sarna
In 1839, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, one of India’s greatest rulers, died and his empire was plunged into chaos. Less than a decade later, weakened by internecine rivalry and intrigue, Punjab fell into the waiting hands of the British. The ruler who signed away the kingdom and its treasures, including the famed Koh-i-noor diamond, was an eleven-year-old boy, Duleep Singh, the youngest of Ranjit Singh’s acknowledged sons.In this nuanced and poignant novel that draws upon true events, Navtej Sarna tells the unusual story of the last Maharaja of Punjab. Soon after the British had annexed his kingdom, Duleep was separated from his mother and his people, taken under British guardianship and converted to Christianity. At sixteen, he was transported to England to live the life of a country squire—an exile that he had been schooled to seek himself.
But disillusionment with the treatment meted out to him and a late realisation of his lost legacy turned Duleep into a rebel. He became a Sikh again and sought to return to and lead his people. The attempt was to drag him into the murky politics of nineteenth century Europe, and leave him depleted and vulnerable to every kind of deceit and ridicule. His end came in a cheap hotel room in Paris, but not before one last act of betrayal and humiliation.
My review:A little boy robbed of his childhood, inheritance, kingdom, family and his faith. Ever since I first heard about Maharaja Duleep Singh’s story from my great grandfather it has filled me with curiosity to know more about him. Navtej Sarna has done a great deal of justice to answer the unanswered questions. What more could have been said about this heart wrenching story of a little boy who lost everything including his identity.People all around him were full of treachery, deceit and hungry for power. The entire lineage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was systematically wiped out by the British. Empress Victoria stooped low and connived to get hold of The empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. She not only got his elder sons killed but also went ahead to separate a little boy from his mother. The devious plan was meant to alienate the son of ‘Lion of Punjab’ from his land and his people. They brainwashed him and succeeded in taking him away from his faith and destroying his confidence and identity. In today’s world it is called as psychological torture and kidnapping. The British feared that if he would go back to his country and his people an uprising could take place.
Inspite of all that the British tried to do The Young Maharaja on meeting his mother did turn back to his faith. The British managed to imprison Maharaja Duleep Singh in England but not his mind. Even today this tormentous and heart rendering story brings tears to a person’s eyes.Extremely well written and true portrayal of the British intentions. Their fear was existence of the progeny of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and annexation of Punjab slyly tells us a lot. May the soul of our LION OF PUNJAB and his sons rest in peace. BUY NOW: