Not many have heard about Muhammad Reza Mir Miran, commonly known as Benki Nawab, a distinguished military commander of Tipu Sultan. The word Benki in Kannada translates to 'fire', a fitting moniker for a man who was renowned for his bravery and ferocity in battle.
Benki Nawab [also spelled Binky Nabob or Benky Nabob] was the son of Hyder Ali's maternal uncle, Ibrahim Sahib. He was the head of Zumra Cutcheri and is mentioned in a few records related to Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
Muhammad Reza Sahib was often employed by Tipu Sultan to lay waste of the enemy's countries. Unfortunately, there is not much else known about Benki Nawab.
Kirmani wrote that, the Sultan had once dispatched Benki Nawab and a body of troops to quell a rebellion led by some Nairs in Malabar. Benki Nawab's courage and skillful leadership led to the capture of many of the rebels, who were then locked in a house with their wives and children and burned alive as a warning to others. This earned him the name Benki Nawab.
"Comparison is made of General John Floyd and Reza Sahib by Mahomedan tradition. Floyd and his horsemen are said to have been as equally cruel and rapacious in pillaging, plundering and burning whole villages and destroying standing crops as was Benki Nawab Sahib and his men. Thus both the East India Company and the Sultan, gloried in impetous and head strong leaders and followers of like disposition", notes Stephen Basappa.
The Last Battle
Battle of Sedaseer (6 March 1799):
The battle of Sedaseer took place during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, fought on the Coorg border, seven miles from Piriyapatna [Periapatam].
On 3 February 1799, General Wellesley led an attack against Mysore with his primary force commanded by Lieutenant General George Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Presidency, and bolstered by a column from the Bombay army under Lieutenant General James Stuart.
The Mysore army was divided into four columns: the right was commanded by Sayyid Gaffur and comprised 3,000 men; the center was led by Benki Nawab and had 1800 men; the left column was commanded by Babur Jung and was made up of 3,000 troops; and the reserve, which was personally commanded by the Sultan, was composed of 4,000 men.
The Mysore army launched an attack on the vanguard of Stuart's force, commanded by Lt. Colonel Montresor, which had been stationed at Sedaseer. The two sides engaged in a fierce battle that lasted for nearly six hours. The British were on the brink of running out of ammunition when the main force, led by General Stuart, arrived and routed the Sultan's troops.
Kirmani records, "At this critical period Muhammad Reza, Mir Miran, having by much entreaty obtained from the presence leave to charge, proceeded with his division like a raging lion towards the enemy, and stretching forth the arm of valour, it went near that the whole of the enemy's army was cut up and destroyed...however...a musket shot from the enemy accidentally struck the head of Muhammad Reza, and he fell mortally wounded. His victorious soldiers took up his corpse and carried it to the Sultan, who directed it to be forwarded to the capital."
Benki Nawab's red granite tomb is situated within the Gumbaz at Srirangapatna. In recognition of his legacy, a street in Mysore city has been named after him.
Benki Nawab's Family:
After the death of Tipu Sultan, Wellesley granted a generous pension of 400 pagodas per annum to the Benki Nawab's family. Once his two sons, Muhammad Ibrahim and Muhammad Khasim, reach the age of 25, they will each receive 150 pagodas per annum, and the remainder to the Mahal and to their two sisters.
On 13 March, 1806 Tipu Sultan's fourth daughter, Fatima Begum, was married to Muhammad Ibrahim, the son of Benki Nawab. They settled in the pettah at Vellore.