Sunday, February 11, 2007

Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap was the eldest son of Maharana Udai Singh. Humayun's son Akbar was born in the palace of a Hindu king, at Amarkot, who had given Humayun shelter when he was being pursued by Sher Shah.

Akbar realized that he could never subdue Rajputs and become sole ruler of India. He decided to pursue diplomacy and was able to convince the Kacchwaha Rajput rulers of Amber (modern day Jaipur) about a matrimonial alliance. King of Amber agreed and Maan Kunwar became Akbar's queen and the mother of Prince Salim, who later became the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Soon other Rajput kingdoms in Rajasthan also gave their daughters to Akbar. This was the darkest period in the history of Rajputs. Only two kings remained against this. The Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas of Ranthambore. Hada are Chauhans. Finally Kunwar Man Singh of Amber and Akbar went and met Surjan Hada to convince him that he should become friends with Akbar. Surjan some how agreed but one of his conditions of friendship was that no daughter of Hadas would ever be asked to marry Mughals and Akbar agreed.

Surjan was very saddened by this friendship with Akbar and the fact that he could not help Maharana Pratap against Akbar. He felt so ashamed that he moved his residence to Banaras and made sure that Hindus in the holy city had no problems at the hands of Muslims.

Udai Palace at Udaipur (city founded by Maharana Udai Singh).

So there remained just the house of Mewar the sole bearer of Rajput pride in the face of immense opposition from Mughals as well as other rajputs who had sold there souls essentially to Mughals by giving there daughters. Maharana Pratap, the Sesodia ruler of Mewar, passed a law that none of his followers will intermarry with Rajputs who have given their daughters to Muslims.

This rule was followed by his loyal band of Rajputs, which included Rathores, Chauhans, Sesodias, Parihaars, Tomars, Kacchwaha and Jhalas.

Maharana Pratap never accepted Akbar as ruler of India, and fought Akbar all his life. Akbar first tried diplomacy to win over Maharana Pratap but nothing worked. Pratap maintained that he had no intention to fight with Akbar but he could not bow down to Akbar and accept him as the ruler. Some scholars argue that there was some possibility that Maharana could have become friends with Akbar but in the siege of Chittor when Akbar killed 30,000 civilian, unarmed residents of Chittor, because they refused to convert to Islam, left a lasting impression on Maharana's mind and he decided he cannot bow to such an unjust and cruel human being as Akbar was. (People should note that when Hindu Kings fought with each other unarmed civilians were never killed in the loosing king's territory).

Looking down from the Chittorgarh fort.

Finally Akbar attacked Maharana Pratap at Haldighati on 18th June, 1576 A.D. Akbar's general was Man Singh Kacchwaha of Amber, leading an army of 40 thousand men. Maharana had about 8 thousand men and some Bhil warriors. One of Maharana's generals was Hakim Khan Sur, who was from the line of Sher Shah Suri, a pathan. Pathans are the only faction of Muslims that Rajputs do not mind befriending because a Pathan would rather give his life then his word. During the first attack Maharana Pratap's army routed the Mughals and Mughals ran for there life.


Maharana Pratap decided to kill Man Singh. He cut his way to the elephant of Man Singh. His horse Chetak put its front feet on the trunk of the elephant that Man Singh was riding and Maharana threw his lance. Man Singh ducked, and the elephant driver was killed. Finally the numerical superiority of the Mughal army was too much and the battle ended in a stalemate.

When Mughal army entered the nearby town of Gogunda they were so mortified that Maharana would attack them again that no one would venture out of the camp for months. They ran out of food and conditions were just miserable in the Mughal camp. They killed there own horses and ate them to survive. Finally help arrived many months later. Akbar was very unhappy with his generals and his army and he refused to see his generals for months.

Chetak Smarak

Akbar kept sending expedition after expedition against Maharana Pratap but never succeeded. He lost lot of money and men in trying to defeat Maharana Pratap. For 30 years Pratap remained ahead of Akbar and in last ten years of his life was able to free most of his kingdom. The only fort Pratap could not recover was Chittor and that saddened him a lot. His son, Amar Singh, won that fort after Pratap's death.

It is said that somebody told Akbar that Pratap wanted to accept Akbar as the king. Akbar was very happy to hear this. One of Akbar's general was Prithviraj Rathore who was a very good poet. He told Akbar this is a lie (incidentally Prithviraj's mother and Pratap's mother were real sisters. Pratap and Prithviraj played together as kids in there maternal grandfather, Akshay Raj Songara's home who was a Chauhan rajput). Prithviraj wrote this letter to Pratap:

Maharana Pratap of Udaipur

The hopes of the Hindu rest on the Hindu yet the Rana forsakes them. But for Pratap, all would be placed on the same level by Akbar; for our chiefs have lost their valour and our females their honour. Akbar is the broker in the market of our race; he has purchased all but the son of Udai (Singh II of Mewar); he is beyond his price. What true Rajput would part with honour for nine days (nauroza); yet how many have bartered it away? Will Chittor come to this market ...? Though Patta (an affectionate name for Pratap Singh) has squandered away wealth (on warfare), yet he has preserved this treasure. Despair has driven man to this market, to witness their dishonour: from such infamy the descendant of Hammir alone has been preserved. The world asks, from where does the concealed aid of Pratap emanate? None but the soul of manliness and his sword .. The broker in the market of men (Akbar) will one day be surpassed; he cannot live forever. Then will our race come to Pratap, for the seed of the Rajput to sow in our desolate lands. To him all look for its preservation, that its purity may again become resplendent. It is as much impossible for me to believe that Pratap has called Akbar his emperor as to see the sun rising in the west. Tell me where do I stand? Shall I use my sword on my neck or shall I continue my proud bearing?

Pratap replied to him:

By my god Eklinga, Pratap would call the emperor Turk alone and the sun would rise in the east. You may continue your proud bearing as long as Pratap's sword dangles on the Mughal head. Pratap would be guilty of Sanga's blood, if he was to tolerate Akbar. You would have the better of it, no doubt Prithviraj, in this wordy quarrel.

Prithviraj was overjoyed on getting this letter.

Maharana Pratap's son, Amar Singh, fought 17 wars with the Mughals but he finally accepted them as rulers. At this time a large chunk of Maharana Pratap's band of loyal Rajputs became disillusioned by the surrender and left Rajasthan. This group included Rathores, Deora Chauhans, Parihaars, Tomaras, Kacchwaha and Jhalas. They are called "Rors" and settled mostly in Haryana, with some in Uttar Pradesh. Until today they do not intermarry with other Rajputs but "gotra permitting" with other Rors only.

Maharana Pratap literally proved these words of Lord Ram:

क्षित्रय तनु धिर समर सक ाना ।
कु ल क लंक तेिह पामर जाना ।।

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