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Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering Maharana Pratap | A Tribute

" The magnitude of the peril confirmed his fortitude, who vowed " to make his mother's milk resplendent " ; and he amply redeemed his pledge ; at one time carrying destruction into the plains, at another flying from rock to rock, feeding his family from the wild fruits of his native hills, and rearing the nursling hero Amar^ , amidst savage beasts and scarce less savage men, a fit heir to his prowess and revenge. The bare idea that "the son of Bappa Rawal* should bow the head to a mortal man" was insupportable ; and he spurned every overture which had submission for its basis, or the degradation of uniting his family with the Tattar, though lord of countless multitudes...."

^ - Son of Maharana Pratap, talks about the days when he was living in exile in forests.
* - He founded Mewar dynasty in 734 A.D., ancestor of Pratap.

-----  Annals of Mewar

Single-handed, for a quarter of a century [1572-97] did he withstand the combined efforts of the mightiest empire of his times under one of the mightiest sovereigns to have ever walked this earth. The story of the struggle between Pratap and Akbar, which is crowded and too replete with incidents, produces the impression that it was a prolonged struggle and involved the Mughals in useless sweat and toil. The repeated attempts of the Mughal commanders were nullified by the repeated counter-assaults launched by Pratap's army, and ultimately brought much misery and sufferings on the invading forces. For a long time the Mughal interest had to suffer in Bengal and North- West Frontier provinces on account of the major resources of the Mughal empire being utilized against the Rajputs in Mewar.

Scene from the Battle of Haldighati - Maharana Pratap on Chetak attacking Man Singh on his Elephant

As a general and leader of men in war, Pratap was a person suited to the need of his own time and also "his conditions". At the Battle of HaldiGhati, it is true - his army, initially,  had destroyed the Mughal army which " started to flee(not retreat) from the battle-field after the Pratap army's onslaught**", but they committed a sad error by subsequent engagement in the frontal attack against the numerically much superior Mughal army with reinforcements, where four hours of action brought disaster and ruin to them; but equally true is the fact that he made amends, by subsequently following the policy of abandoning a post and rallying his strength in the hilly strongholds. Cutting the enemy's communications, surprise attacks and retreat, the new tactics applied scientifically to his advantage against heavy odds, were legacies which he gave to the generations following him. His defensive mountainous warfare became a technique in itself. The application of Bhil Tribal infantry for dash and sudden attacks added a novelty to his system of warfare which no one can ignore.

** - The flight of Mughal Army at the Battle of Haldighati(1576), after the onslaught of Pratap's army has been recorded in many records, both Mughal(in brief) and Rajputana.. I list some of them here :

1. Al-Badaouni - Persian, Volume-2, Pg-232
2. Tabaqat-i-Akbari, Persian, Pg-333
3. Akbarnama, Persian, Vol-3, Pg-152

4. Amarkavya Vanshavali, F-43(b), 44(a)
5. Raj Ratnakar, Canto-7, VV-19/20
6. Sanskrit Inscription inscribed at the Jaganath Rai Temple at Udaipur. Scan. >

It is said that expeditions to Mewar were given up by Akbar about 1584-85 A.D. , and were never seriously taken up again till 1597, the year Pratap died. Pratap re-organised his power and undid all that was done by the Mughal forces after so much of hard struggle and loss of men and money. Though, it seems, Akbar did not leave Pratap at ease during this period and he was monitoring Pratap's actions. To support my statement i mention the following facts:

1. Raja Jagannath, brother of Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer & son of Raja BharMal, was appointed the incharge of Mughal Forces in 1584, with orders to "get Pratap" , as his activities were becoming very dangerous ("khatarnaak"). He was also made the Governor of the important Suba of Ajmer..... From Akbarnama(Persian), Volume-3, Page-440.

2. For complete one year, Raja Jagannath and Pratap were at continuous odds/clashes, and Pratap was pursued relentlessly by Mughal Forces from all sides. But the task of capturing him was not successful. Here is a famous incident. While Jagannath attacked Mewar, Rajput forces engaged him here but Pratap was not found . He was in Kumbhalgarh, knowing about which, Jaganath proceeded there but Pratap by then, was "busy attacking the Mughal forces in neighbouring districts of Kumbhalgarh". Such swift were Pratap's moves that, before Raja Jagannath could catch Pratap in neighbouring Kumbhalgarh, Pratap had already left for Chittor.....From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-440.

3. Raja Jagannath was in no mood to leave his pursuit for Pratap. On October 8, 1585 the Mughal Forces had very nearly captured the Rana. They scoured the countryside and left no stone unturned to get him. Even in his retreat Pratap was surprised by the Mughal Forces, but finally "a faithful Rajput and Pratap got away"....From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-468.

4. Rumor spread that Rana Pratap had gone to Gujarat, and Mughal forces went after him with great speed. But Pratap made himself "scarce" to be found. The armies came back. Almost same time another rumor hastened that Pratap was planning a junction with the Rai of Dungarpur(south-east Rajputana), but Mughal forces were present there beforehand , before the Rai could take any position dangerous to them. The Rai paid a huge money as tribute before the Mughals departed from there....From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-468.
{ This ruler had a track record of giving shelter to many Mughal rebels/enemies before entering the service of Akbar in 1573. He had also given shelter to Baz Bahadur of Malwa and also to Chandra Sen of Marwar. It is interesting to note that, this king was a father in law of Akbar, as his daughter was married to Akbar in 1577. She was childless.}

Kumbhalgarh Fort at Night

5. The skirmishes continued for two more years till July 1587 when Raja Jagannath was called & sent to Kashmir expedition. His task of subjugating / bringing Pratap to Akbar was not completed.....From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-523....
It is interesting to see the timeline here. > By 1588, Pratap and Rana Amar Singh had thrown off 36 Mughal garrisons, and Pratap was giving land grants(from copper plate inscription number 368 at Udaipur Commisioner's Office) to his loyal supporters for reconstruction of Mewar economy, despite the presence of Raja Jagannath in Mewar till July 1587.

6. Appointment of Raja Gopal Jadon to Ajmer in 1589.......From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-575....
(His son, Sanwal Das was a personal trusted soldier, who remained in the company of Akbar.....From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-434...}

7. Appointment of Sheroya Khan to Ajmer in 1594.......From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-655....
{ He was the son of Sher Afghan, Nur Jahan was his (step?)mother........From Maasir(Persian), Vol-2, Pg-573....}

8. Appointment of Bharti Chand Diwan to Ajmer in 1595.......From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-670....

9. Appointment of Rustum Khan as the Faujdar of Chittor in 1595.......From Akbarnama(Persian), Vol-3, Pg-696....

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Akbar had not lost hold of happenings in Mewar even in these years. We can see from the happenings above. The issue with Mughal accounts(which are easily available) is that, they conceal uncomfortable defeats in their writings. Hardly any win of Pratap has been mentioned in the Mughal accounts. One wonders after reading them, if Pratap did not win against Mughal forces, then how come he re-gained entire Mewar back(except Chittor and Mandal).? For example : No Mughal account mentions the 4 continuous sieges/fights to take Kumbhalgarh Fort, against the Rana where the Mughal forces were defeated 4 times between October 1577 to April 1578. On April 3, 1578 the fort was left due to extinction of the fighters after continuous fight and drying up of food provisions. Hence, finally, Kumbhalgarh Fort was taken. This news of taking the fort has been recorded in all the Mughal accounts but NOT the previous 4 defeats.!!

As late as 1595, were Pratap's advancement checked - One of the last persons to accept Mughal authority in 1595, after continuous battles, was a son of the late King of Gwalior, Raja Ram Shah Tanvar, who was an ally of Rana Udai Singh and Maharana Pratap. Despite being singled out from every side, Pratap remained free. 

I mentioned in the last post that Akbar wanted to remove Salim from Mughal court in 1597, but that was not successful. Finally, he was made to go against Mewar in 1599 A.D.

Whatever may be the case, but only Chittor and Mandalgarh remained in the hands of Akbar, at the end. The facts as explained above make us think that the right course for Akbar after Haldgi-Ghati War(1576) would have been to stop the useless carnage in Mewar, to be content with the results already acquired, to hold the captured forts fast, and rally the population of that part to the standard of the principles followed in the Mughal dominion. It is a strange irony of history that Akbar began his career of the conquest in Mewar with the possession of the Forts of Chittor and Mandalgarh after the Battle of Chittor(1567-68), and ended up retaining these two only at his death(1605). !! 

Fort of Chittor - An Old Painting

As regards Pratap it must be said that for 25 long years, he spent the prime of his life in hardships, and stood to the might of the mightiest person of not only Hindustan but possibly the most powerful empire of that time. Pratap had played an important part upon the political stage, and represented with remarkable fidelity the views of the great majority of his subjects. He was a great ruler by virtue of his being a good man, with homely virtue, simple life, dauntless courage, untiring industry, generosity and kindness which won him great affection and respect. *

* AmarsarYashVarnan, Verse 73, F-7(a).....See scan below>

The wear and tear of many years of almost continuous campaigning and fighting had naturally affected Pratap's nerves, while the many wounds he had received may have undermined his iron constitution and he fell ill due to an injury sustained by his leg, while striking the bow. The blow was fatal. After some days ill ness he died at Chavand on January 19, 1597. He was cremated on the bank of a stream near the village of Bandoli, 1.5 miles near his capital Chavand. - Veer V., Vol.2, Pg-164

Even after Pratap's death, Bandoli continued to be the burning place of the Mewar Royal House which is clear from an inscription dated 1601 AD. This inscription is about the date of death of a sister of Pratap, but i could not get her name.

Maharana Pratap's Chattri at Bandoli near Chavand - Place of Cremation

Pratap's death did more than close an epoch .It removed from the stage of Rajput politics it's most striking and most attractive personality. Often Akbar brought Pratap's relations against him, but Pratap indomitable spirit could not be surpassed. The princes of Marwar, Amer, Bikaner, and even Bundi, late his firm ally, was on side of Akbar. Even his own brother, Sagar(second son of his step-mother DheerBai Bhatiyani), deserted him, and joined Akbar after not being able to sustain the hardships, in 1583. DheerBai's first son, Kunwar Jagmaal had already joined Akbar long before. Pratap employed the same strategy against Akbar. By the feats of his political foresight he made alliances with some of his neighboring states and cleverly diverted the attention of Akbar to undo them. In the mean time, Pratap was ready with another task for the Mughal Forces. Abu'l Fazl notes the actions of Akbar and Pratap in Volume-3 of Akbarnama as follows > "If Akbar was a diplomat, Rana Pratap was ready to provide enough work to imperial forces."

This device of making alliances often succeeded and Mewar had to face "divided strength" of the Mughal army dispatched for Rajputana. As an eternal optimist he took the blows of adverse fortune with equanimity, and he never bore a grudge against it. By his spirit and success the soldiers were taught to act, the subjects to hope and the enemies to fear and respect.

Great warrior as Pratap was, it is to be admitted that Akbar was a master strategist who brought almost everyone into his fold whatever may be the means, except Pratap. Pratap's remaining aloof from that hold was an impediment to his task(as Abu'l Fazl says). Had Pratap joined the service of Akbar, his country could have been saved from the plunder, continuous destruction and ruin. But Pratap's name is immortal in the history of this land as a great soldier of liberty who concentrated his attention on this moral aspect of the struggle he had to wage without caring for material advantage or losses involved. He upheld the pride of his race and as long as this race lives, it will cherish with pride the memory of one who staked his all in a fight against the person "who wanted to imperialize him". As a great warrior of liberty, a devoted lover of noble cause and a hero of moral character, his name is to millions of men even today, a cloud of hope by the day and a pillar of fire by the night..

Fort of Chittor - Situated on a Hill
The court historians of Akbar, dazzled by the commanding talents and his unlimited means which enabled him to gratify his soaring ambition, seldom have a word of sympathy to spare for the gallant foes whose misery made his triumph possible. Yet they too, men and women BOTH, are worthy of remembrance. The vanquished, it may be, were greater than the victor......~~

" Thus closed the life of a warrior whose memory is even now idolized by everyone in Rajputana. Had Mewar possessed her Thucydides or her Xenophon, neither the wars of the Peloponnesus nor the retreat of the " ten thousand " would have yielded more diversified incidents for the historic muse than the deeds of this brilliant reign amid the many vicissitudes of Mewar. Undaunted heroism, inflexible fortitude, that which " keeps honour bright ", perseverance -with fidelity such as no nation can boast, were the materials opposed to a soaring ambition, commanding talents, unlimited means, and the fervour of religious zeal ; all, however, insufficient to contend with one unconquerable mind - Pratap.   "      

-----  Annals of Mewar

Such was the story of Pratap...
The MAN whose name resonates in the sands of Rajputana, even today....

The post is a tribute to this warrior. Today is 19th January 2015. 
It happens to be the 418th death anniversary of Maharana Pratap.


Article Category : Rajputs.

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  1. Posting Radhika's comment here..

    Awesome Post Abhay. Will add more later. This is a beautiful writeup.

  2. Awesome pictures taken from great angles...!! Needless to say that the writing too is awesome....:D

  3. abhay - 'tis post iz unsurpassed. i ve never read sooooo much abt maharana pratap at 1 place. 'tis iz goldmine. i m fan of akbar n muz tho name of maharana pratap holds respect in my mind n now even mor respect. no words xcpt 2 thnk u a lot 4 it.

  4. Abhay Brilliant post with pictures no doubt Maharana Pratap stands tall in history that he never gave in surrendered to any forces who invaded India and always had a clear cut demarcation in his mind on who were Indians and citizens of Hindustan He never compromised, wherein lies his greatness

  5. Thanks Abhay,Not read Post

    . MP, was Man of Courage , His Will power was extreem, He not bow down his Head, front, of Evil. Brave Rajpoot, Strong Man, Ex for Everyone,he not choosed, easy life, but give up everything, for the glory, of rajpoots, Cause of Respect i think people call him, Rajpoots, Suryavansh.. Chetak, Was his famous Horse.Rani luxumi, , Bai Horse+MP chetak, both are famous for their Loyalty. Some persons, Name always written in Golden Words our History, MP, is one of Them.

  6. Abhay, there cud not hv been greater tribute than this ! That too on his death anniversary !He is truly the pride of Rajputana.Such a combination of many good qualities, noble ideas r rare to find in a warrior. My salutes to this real "bhoomiputra'. Thank u Abhay, fr this elaborate post.:) Picture of Kumbhalgarh is real beauty :)
    His step brothers were ruling defferent provinces of Rajputana?Were they independent rulers? When did they join Akbar? Did anybody write Pratap's chronocle too?

  7. Abhay I managed to post comment..

  8. Well said Sunram, add to this his "strong ideals" which he never compromised with, whatever may be the circumstances. These all factors make one respect him more and more, as Iqra said above. :)

  9. It's great. Hoping that there won't be any problem in logging in now. :)

  10. Geeta,
    Yes his brothers were ruling from different locations. They can not be called "independent" as they were allies of Akbar. Jagmaal joined Akbar in approx. 1572-73 and Sagar joined in 1583.
    Pratap's history was penned down along with the history of his son's reign. All the texts were written in Sanskrit language, as visible from the scans above. :)

  11. Thanks Ayushi. Your words sum up Pratap's aura well. He simply refused to bow to anyone in his life, except his Ekling Ji and his parents. :)

  12. Thank you very much for this appreciation. Hope to see you regularly. :)

  13. Thanks a lot Iqra. I know you are very eager to know about MP. I think this post answered a lot of your queries. :)

  14. abhay - yes lot many things cleared. tho u knw my hunger 4 mor info bt i ll wait n ask later. plz keep writing. thnks.

  15. Hi Abhay!!
    This is such a beautiful tribute to one of the most beloved sons of Indian history.His story naturally draws in immense respect,amazement,inspiration and pride.He preferred patriotism,self respect,independence,long and difficult struggles rather than a comfortable and luxurious life under the sovereignty of Akbar.I think that the many Rajput kingdoms who fought against Maharana Pratap under the authority of Akbar might be secretly respecting Maharana Pratap.
    His ability to keep his kingdom independent in spite of a very strong and persistent resistance with unlimited resources suggests that he might have been a very intelligent man with brilliant strategies and with a will power of steel.

  16. Hi Aashrita,
    When i was writing this post, i felt you are going to enjoy reading this, as i know, MP is one of the most respected figures in your eyes, from your previous comments. So, i was correct. :)
    Yes, i completely agree with what ever you wrote here. Despite all odds and being pushed to the extremes, he remained FIRM.
    You've raised a nice point. > "I think that the many Rajput kingdoms who fought against Maharana Pratap
    under the authority of Akbar might be secretly respecting Maharana
    < ^ This was also what i read somewhere,but i not sure about this, but surely he lived up to all the ideals a Rajput warrior is known for. :)

  17. Thanks Abhay. Very informative information.
    In first picture, it looks like horse with elephant face ?

  18. Welcome Katana.
    An elephant won't allow a horse to figh with it. Hence, this was a novel technique of Maharana Pratap to give an elephant like appearance to his horse Chetak, while fighting with elephants. :)

  19. Hi

    Sharing something :)

    Akbar tried to win over MP without a battle by sending proposals for treaties 4 times! Whether he was really trying for peace, or trying to subjugate Mewar easily or was trying to prove that MP was an obstinate man not in favor of peace, is a matter of debate.

    1. Thru Jalal Khan Korchi: Within 6 months of MP becoming the ruler of Mewar, Akbar sent a treaty thru Korchi, a clever and trusted courtier, in September 1572. The talks went on till November 1572, but the Mughal team had to return disappointed.

    2. Thru ManSingh: Akbar now sent a treaty thru Mansingh, hoping that MP would listen to a fellow Rajput and could not possibly insult a fellow Rajput. Mansingh met MP in Udaipur in June, 1573, after his victory in Sholapur. Even though the samant of Salumbar asked MP not to meet Mansingh, MP met him in an atmosphere of goodwill. However, he refused to accept subjugation to Mughals.
    3. Thru Bhagwandas: Mansingh's father met MP in September, October, 1573, after Akbar's victory in Ahmedabad. To show his strength to MP, Bhagwandas conquered Badnagar, Rawalia etc on his way. The 2 met in Gogunda but again MP refused to accept the Mughal proposal.

    4. Thru Todarmal: Akbar sent the 4th treaty proposal thru Todarmal in December, 1573. Todarmal was an able commander and a clever politician and Akbar had full faith in his abilities to bring MP under Mughal control. But MP was an equally clever politician and refused to fall in with the wishes of Akbar.

    Perhaps, MP kept pointing out to shortcomings in the treaties, which is why Akbar kept sending treaties to him. MP got valuable time to increase his military strength and make future plans this way. He refused the Mughal overtures with great intelligence. He was willing to go to any length to protect the independence of Mewar. For this reason, he treated the messengers of Akbar with utmost courtesy and respect, so that any unwise / hasty act on his part did not prove deadly for Mewar.

    It is commendable that both sides did not hasten towards a battle but tried to talk things over. When all proposals failed, a fatal battle was the only option left. And that is how the Battle of Haldighati became unavoidable.

  20. Radhika,
    This is another post which should be made as a separate article so that it reaches more viewers. TFS. :)

  21. Abhay

    You would be the best person to make this post because you'd have more info / details about the interaction between Akbar and MP. :) Your posts are something else altogether. :)