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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rajput Celebration of Navratri, Ashwa Poojan & Dussehra in Rajasthan | With Old Rajasthani Paintings & Modern Pictures

Hi Everyone,

Wishing all the blog readers a very happy Dussehra / Vijayadashami / Durga Puja / Bijoya :) 
May this day be the harbinger of success, prosperity and good times in your life.

Navratri is one of the most auspicious times in the Hindu calendar. It marks the beginning of the festive season and is one of the favorite times of the year for me, and i am sure for many others too. 

Lasting for nine days and nights and hence known as Navratri, this festival is dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga, the consort of Lord Shiva. According to Hinduism, it is 'The Woman', the 'Mother', who is the source of power, energy, vigour in the universe and the force that is responsible for the propagation of creation. Maa Durga (the Divine Mother) representing Shakti (Power) is depicted in nine popular avatars (forms) during the nine days of the festival during the month of Ashvin (September / October). The mother goddess is worshipped to seek Her blessings for imparting strength, power, courage and spirituality to Her devotees. 

Note: You can learn more about these 9 forms of Durga at the following link: 
Nine Forms of Durga

Much like the rest of India, Navratri and Dussehra are celebrated in full vigour in Rajasthan, the land of Rajputs. This article is especially focused on how these festivals have been traditionally celebrated by Rajputs.

Record of Navratri Celebrations by Rajputs

The festivities started from the sthapana day. On this occasion, animals were sacrificed at the shrine of Durga, and various manifestations of the goddess in the forms of Rudrani, Maha Kali and Chandika were worshipped.1 

For all nine days, reciting the Durga Saptasati - a religious book of seven hundred verses - was an important part of the festival. 2

The Hakikat Bahi (3) of Jodhpur preserves a copy of the letter from Maharaja Vijaya Singh to the District Officer of Nagor of 1778 A.D., in which full instructions  for the celebrations of the festival were given by him. The letter throws sufficient light on the rituals and formalities observed on the occasion. 

According to it, on the first day, the goddess Durga's image was installed and jawara or barley seeds were sown and worshipped. On the 8th day, nine virgin girls, representative of Durga, were worshipped by each warrior. On the 9th day, offerings were made to fire, and feasting and merry-making concluded the Navratri festival. The sprouted jawara and the image of the goddess was taken to a pond or a tank in procession amid great rejoicing and night vigil manifested with singing and dancing.

The ninth day of Navratri, called Navami, is the culminating day of the nine-day festival. On Navami, Rajputs everywhere recognize and worship the various aspects of their life on which they depend for their livelihood. It is a known fact that one cannot separate a Rajput warrior from his horse and the reliance and dependence of the Rajput warrior on his horse can, in no way, be undermined. It is not just in India but the world over that many a household has survived because of the unflinching and faithful services rendered by the horse to man. 

Rana Ari Singh of Mewar (1761) displays his skill in horsemanship, which was learned by every Rajput warrior at an early age.

It is, therefore, appropriate that one day in the year be especially dedicated in recognition of the usefulness of the horse and its contribution to the survival of the Rajput community. This is an important festival specific to Rajputs. It is called the Ashwa Pujan, or the Worship of Horse. This practice is followed to this day by the Rajputs of Udaipur. 

Ashwa Pujan

It is an important festival for the Rajput warrior as he celebrates his devoted and valiant steed, his most powerful symbol,  and all his weapons on Dussehra. The Ashwa Poojan Ceremony or Worship of the Horse commemorates the bond of interdependence between the Rajput and the horse and the partnership of centuries. Ashwa Poojan is really the grand finale to the Navratri festivities, invoking both the power of Durga and the Ashwa.

Complete Regalia - The 'Marwari' is ready !! The pink ornament which is present between the horse's ears is called 'Kalingi' . These are the pictures of 2010. This stallion is called "Raj Tilak" , pie-bald, then aged 14 years. Complete decoration is done in silver.

The horses participating in the poojan belong to an internationally recognized breed known as ‘Marwari’. This name is reflective of their area of origin, which is now a part of the present state of Rajasthan - Marwar. The salient characteristics of the breed are that they are extremely sure-footed on hard rocky terrain and are at equal ease in the sands of the desert. Besides these versatile features, they are good battle companions, as they possess the extraordinary ability to rejuvenate themselves by overnight rest and a simple sand bath.  Chetak, the horse of Maharana Pratap was also a 'Marwari'. Read more here : Chetak & Maharana Pratap | Eternal Legend

The art of selection or choosing the horse is exceedingly complex and is described in books known as the 'Salotar'. A Salotar is an ancient encyclopaedia about horses, and includes complete information related to them, such as breeding, training, grooming, shoeing, veterinary cover, good and bad whorls etc. These documents, updated from time to time, are based on the experiences of eminent Rajput horsemen.

Neveri - The Silver Ornament on the Knee

Ashwa Poojan originated in ancient times, but is still practised in  Mewar. Every year, the magic of this custom unfolds on the ninth day of Navratri, as Mewar offers thanksgiving to its Marwari battle horses bedecked in complete Rajput regalia. 

'Halra' - Bands of Silver Necklaces Around the Neck

Celebrating Dussehra in Rajasthan

Since time immemorial, Dussehra was an important festival for all Rajputs in general and the warrior class in particular. It was observed on the 10th day (dashmi) of the bright-half of the month of Asoja (Ashvin / September-October) in commemoration of Lord Rama's victory over Ravana. 

The Mewar Ramayana manuscript, which narrates the story of Lord Rama, was commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar in 1649 and produced in his court studio at Udaipur. 

Lord Rama has divided his forces, sending the chief monkeys with their separate armies to the four gates of the city of Lanka. The allies have launched a general attack on Lanka, in which many marvellous feats of skill and daring are performed. From Mewar Ramayana.
After a tremendous fight, in which Lord Rama  shoots off Ravana's heads with his arrows only to see them grow again, Lord Rama is reminded to use his Brahma-astra (weapon). This weapon pierces Ravana's chest and he falls lifeless from his chariot. From Mewar Ramayana.
'The Great battle between Rama and Ravana' , Raghogarh folk style, Central India, 19th Century. 

'Rama grieves seeing Lakshmana unconscious', Bikaner-Deccan mixed style,18th century

'Indrajit worships Devi before battle; Lakshmana kill him on the battlefield' , Malwa style, 17th cent.
Dussehra was the culmination of the Navratri festival - nine nights of worship of Maa Durga, the warrior goddess.

This beautiful Rajasthani Painting "Dassehra Durbar",of Marwar style, depicts the king seated against a bolster in court. He is wearing a white dress. Dancers are performing to the accompaniment of music. Courtiers on either side of the king are enjoying the dance and music. They are all wearing white dresses and red turbans. The occasion is the celebration of the Dussehra festival. 

Rajput princes used to celebrate Dussehra in a magnificent style by holding darbars, receiving nazars, and conferring ranks and honour on deserving officers. Vassals used to pay homage to the Rana on this day. Horses and elephants were brought out for display after being duly washed, groomed and bedecked. 

A 1764 miniature painting depicts Maharana Ari Singh II (1761-1773) riding in procession with the traditional emblems of royalty: a chhatri (parasol) called Kirnia and two royal standards called Changi. One is in black felt and the other is in white ostrich feathers, both with a golden sun in the centre. The sun indicates that the Rajputs were Suryavanshi, i.e., belonging to the dynasty of the Sun.

Jahangir Celebrates Dussehra

Mughal Emperor Akbar is credited for celebrating Dussehra with his Rajput wife. Though, Jahangir is also known to have shown reverence to the customs. While staying at Ajmer, Jahangir celebrated the Dussehra festival in the usual Rajput manner. Decorated elephants and horses were brought before him for review. A procession was taken to the place where a sami tree was being worshipped. Illumination and fireworks followed the celebration. 

Dussehra - A Time for War

According to an old tradition, the rulers of Rajasthan used to move out from their places, on Dussehra, to organise a campaign on the pretext of Aheria hunt. War was a "sport" for the Rajputs. It was a part of their custom. For instance, Rana Raj Singh used this festival as an excuse to lead an expedition to Badnor. 4

An 1802 miniature depicts the army of Rana Bhim Singh (1778-1828) in procession to the temple of Ekling Ji. Traditionally, a triangular crimson flag (pataka) with a golden sun represented the Ranas of Mewar, but flags were also issued to the leading Rajput nobles. These flags had a Rajput dagger (kataar) on a crimson flag, as shown here. The rectangular flag with the sun, the crescent moon, the talwar (curved sword) and two stars, was called dhvaja and was carried by the royal band. The double triangle white flag depicts Hanuman, the traditional symbol of fearlessness and strength for Hindus.

Historian R.C. Dutta illustrates how medieval custom still lingers and the Dussehra festival is still celebrated with spirit and enthusiasm in Rajasthan. He writes, "The Rajputs worship the sword on this occasion ...... I witnessed the Maharaja (of Jaipur) performing the worship, assisted by his priests and ministers; I saw the Maharaja going out in a procession among joyous and enthusiastic crowds of people; and I also witnessed the grand closing review and festivities in an open plain adjoining the town. Fire-works and illuminations closed the scene, and as I came back to the city among tens of thousands of joyous, enthusiastic and loyal citizens crowding round their chief......I could to some extent realise their loyalty, their pride, their joyousness."

 The Mewar army in the 19th century, a mix of the old and new. The old-style armoured horses and elephants are seen in the foreground, the organized infantry and English-style cavalry at the back. Artillery guns fire a salute as the Rana (not seen in the picture) takes a muster of his army on the Muhalla day after Dussehra. Some of the traditional cavalry wear elephant-masks.

1 - Rajaratanakara, C 15, f. 85, C 17, f. 96; Gunarupaka, f. 75.
2 - Bhandara No.1, Basta No. 11, 1693
3 - Hakikat Bahi, No.2, 14th of the dark-half of Asoja, (19th October, 1778 A.D.)

4 -
Karmachandra-Vanshot-Kirtankam-Kavyam, vv. 526-30;
Rajaprakasha, v. 92 ;
Rajavilasa, C 6, v. 1 ;
Rajaratnakarn, C 15, v. 38, f.85 ;
Gunarupaka,  f. 104b;
Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, I, Pg. 172-173;
Bhandara No.1, Basta No. 11, records the variety of fire-works as havai, champa, charkhi, hatphula and chhachhundari in 1693 ; Hakikat Bahi, No. 20, 1778.
5 - R. C. Dutta : Rambles of India, pp. 48-49.

'Sad and perturbed Ravana seated on a golden throne, worried about his fate', Kangra style, 19th century

I now leave you to enjoy this festive season with these pictures from the archives:

Celebrating Dussehra in Kota, Rajasthan

In Rajasthan, Dussehra is celebrated with great vigour in Kota, which also reigns supreme among tourists for holding gala celebrations for the Dussehra festival. The Dussehra Festival of Kota can be touted among the major attractions of the town. During this festival, a very vibrant and colourful mela or fair is organized. This festival is usually held every year in the Hindu month of Ashvin (September-October). Dussehra is joyfully celebrated almost all over India but is a class apart in Kota! 75-feet tall effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghnath are burnt here on Dussehra day.

Diwali Celebrations in Udaipur

This view of a celebration in a Rajput palace is an early example of the genre of Rajput paintings, panoramas describing scenes of court life, that blossomed in the early 18th century at the Mewar court. The palace is most probably located in Udaipur. 

The festivities represent Diwali, the Festival of Lights devoted to Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth and Good Fortune. To secure luck in the coming year,  the Goddess is worshipped at Her shrine, and the light from the fireworks and the oil lamps on the dark New Moon night symbolises the victory of the forces of light over darkness. The palace is depicted from a bird’s eye view, the perspective of different sections skewed to present the architectural details and spaces within the building to best effect. 

The painting richly rewards close examination, with numerous entertaining vignettes and details, including the woman seen in profile through the window set into the bright orange main gate. Beyond the walls of the palace, a lively gathering includes a group of musicians, men sprinkling the dust with water from a goat skin bag, a pair of sadhus (ascetics) and even a man leading a leopard on a leash. 

Within the palace, the Diwali festivities take place in the presence of the Rana who is accompanied by the women of the raniwaas. Here he is being entertained by a diminutive performer. The open placement of the women in the painting depicts the freedom enjoyed by the ladies in the palace. To the left, a priest bows before the Diwali lights. The combination of intricate, lively details contained within a framework of palace architecture and landscape, and executed in dense, bold colours, characterise the Rajput painting. 

Date Created : 1690
Type: Opaque Watercolours and gold paint on paper

Celebrating Ashwa Poojan in Udaipur

Rana Bhupal Singh at the Ashwa Poojan festivities in 1950.
Silver gelatin print,
Accession Number - 2008.04.0004
 All rights reserved - City Palace, Udaipur

Unknown and undated portrait of the Ashwa Poojan festivities in Udaipur 
All rights reserved - City Palace, Udaipur 

Ashwa Poojan celebration in Udaipur, wide view of festivities. You can compare this picture with the above portrait. The location is same.

Here are the pictures of the Ashwa Poojan ceremony at Udaipur performed this evening on 21st October, 2015.

Ashwa Poojan Ceremony Being Presided by Rana Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar, the present Rana of Udaipur

Rana Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar offers arati to a Marwari Horse

Rana Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar worships a Marwari horse in the traditional manner even today.

A wide view of the festivities in the Udaipur palace on the occasion of Ashwa Poojan, 21st October 2015

Our Facebook Page can also be followed for interesting historical inputs. 

Thanks to Radhika for her inputs in the compilation of this article.
The article has been posted under the Rajputs section of this history BLOG.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Akbar was Born | The Incredibly Romantic Story of the Birth of Mughal Emperor Akbar as a Refugee in a Rajput Citadel of Amarkot | With Akbarnama portraits depicting celebrations on Akbar's birth

" Akbar did not have a single drop of the "blood of Hind" running through his veins, colloquially speaking. Yet he was a native son of the soil of Hind, not just because he was born here but also because he lived almost his entire life here and accepted Hind as his ONLY homeland. And, what is more - we have accepted him as one of our own - as a monarch who continues to rule over many hearts after 400 years for his reforms, despite his administration which lasted only for forty-nine years, eight months & three days. "

Akbar as a 15 year old boy, about 1557 AD (Tashbih-Khurdsal-Akbar-Padshah )
Johnson Collection, India Office ; Album XVIII, F-4 ; Artist unknown.
The earliest Indo-Persian painting of Akbar.

Jalal-ud-din Muhammad  Akbar was (officially) born on Sunday, 15th October, 1542*, at Amarkot (also known as Umerkot), a small town of less than 5000 inhabitants, amidst the forbidding sand-dunes of the eastern extremity of the Sindh desert. The adjoining sea of sand in Rajputana provided a bleak backdrop for the birth of a child destined to rank among the great sovereigns of the world. This was not the first time that providence chose a grim setting to raise the curtains on an important event in history.

Map Showing Location of Amarkot in Sindh, now in Pakistan.

*  - There is a discrepancy about the DOB of Akbar. Check this post for the details -
REAL Date of Birth of Akbar & Akbar's Horoscope | Was Akbar a Title ?


Let us trace the events that immediately preceded the birth of Akbar. What were the circumstances that led Akbar to be born in a Rajput palace-fort when Rajputs and Mughals were traditional foes? I can tell you this is one very interesting and romantic story that will leave you spell-bound by the vagaries of Fate.

Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum Reach Amarkot
Humayun and his 15-year old consort, Hamida Banu Begum, reached Amarkot on 22nd August, 1542, following a perilous march from near Jodhpur through a tract of desert as forbidding in its scarcities as in the hostility of its Rathor ruler, Rao Maldeo Rathore. 
It was indeed a wonder that the fleeing Mughal Emperor and his small band of followers escaped death or capture at the hands of one whom Ferishta described as "the most powerful and influential prince of the time in Hindustan" & Nizam-ud-din described as the "greatest Rai of Hind".

Rao Maldeo Rathore of Jodhpur

Some modern authors allege that ambition & power led Rao Maldeo to forget the traditions of Rajput chivalry, according to which he should have provided shelter to Humayun, who was wandering in exile after losing his empire to Sher Shah Suri. But, in my opinion, this charge is not true. Initially, Rao Maldeo did agree to provide refuge to Humayun, but due to a "mistake" by Humayun's camp followers, Rao Maldeo turned against Humayun, who consequently had to flee Jodhpur. 

Mistake of Humayun turned Rao Maldeo Rathore against him, though he did not molest him and allowed him to pass safely through his kingdom of Jodhpur.

Reference :
Glorious Rathores, Pg-23 ;
Author: Bisheshwar Nath, Superintendent of Archaeological Department of Jodhpur, Member Historical Records Commission, Jodhpur Archaeological Department ;
Published in 1943 under the Orders of Jodhpur Darbar for His Highness Maharaja Umaid Singh Ji of Jodhpur ;
Printed at Jodhpur Government Press

Fortunately for the much troubled Humayun, he was received with utmost respect and courtesy by the Rana of Amarkot - Rana Veersal. Humayun made Amarkot his base for gaining a foothold in Sindh*.

* - Sindh and Amarkot are now in Pakistan.

Hopelessness bred in Humayun and his men a desperation which enabled them to win the battle against hunger, thirst and the raiding parties of pitiless pursuers. Humayun and Hamida Banu entered Amarkot at the head of a weary troupe of seven attendants; the rest straggled in several hours later in small batches. 

Birthplace of Akbar in Amarkot(now called Umerkot), Sindh, Pakistan

The gallant Rana of Amarkot, from the Hindu Sodha Thakur Rajput clan*, not only gave the royal couple a gracious welcome, but he also received every member of the Mughal party with courtesy and made suitable arrangements for their stay and entertainment. He even went to the extent of vacating his own palace inside the fort for Humayun and his young wife, and ordered his courtiers to pay homage to them in the same manner as they did to him.

Brief Note about the Sodha Thakur Ranas of Amarkot :

* - The descendants of Sodha Rajput Ranas still live in Sindh, Pakistan. They have one more sovereign who is remembered in history for his heroic sacrifice for his fierce love of independence. Their ancestor Rana Rattan Singh fought to keep Sindh free from British colonialism. The British captured and executed him in his own fort at Amarkot (in 1853), on top of a high platform constructed especially to make his hanging visible for miles around and serve as an example to those who dared to defy their rule. Legend has it that even at the gallows, his last wish was to give a twist to his magnificent moustache in a final gesture of his defiance to British rule. The Sindhi folk song 'Mor tor tillay Rana' is based on his heroism can still be heard from the bards of Amarkot. The site has been converted into Umerkot Museum.

They were in news in 1999, as the Late Rana Chandra Singh of Umerkot had brokered the former Indian Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s historic trip to Lahore to meet Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for peace talks.

Sodha Ranas continued to form matrimonial alliances with the royal families of Rajasthan in India, even after the partition of India. Borders did not affect them. Recently, in February 2015, they came to India to marry a princess of Kanota dynasty (Jaipur), Rajasthan. It was a much talked about wedding in the royal circles.

Read more here :

Birthplace of Mughal Emperor Akbar in Amarkot has been marked by the Umerkot Museum authorities

Hamida Banu Begum Treated as a Daughter of the Royal Family by the Rana of Amarkot
When the Rana came to know that Hamida was seven months with child, he placed at the disposal of his guests the meagre medical resources of his desert kingdom. Rajput ladies of high status were deputed to keep her company and to see that the memories of her arduous trek through the desert did not in any way disturb her equanimity.
In a signed document to his officers, the Rana wrote:

We have the privilege of playing host to a royal couple. Fortune has not been kind to them in recent months. It is our moral obligation to make them feel at home in our realm and to leave nothing undone to restore their peace of mind. Therefore, I command you all, in the name of our traditions and canons of honour, to extend to them such courteous submissions as would bring them happiness.

A special obligation devolves upon the ladies of your families to personally pay their homage and express their good wishes to the Queen who is expected to gain in a few weeks the high honour of being a mother. We attach great importance to the coming happy event. It will perhaps be the first time in history that a Muslim princess will give birth to a child in a Rajput palace. Our duty is clear.

The young Queen must be accorded the same courtesies and facilities as would be extended to a daughter of our own royal family. Arrangements may therefore be made, in consultation with the custodian of our household, to fill the days of our honoured guest with amusements such as would raise her spirits and generate in her the confidence of being amidst genuine friends.

This was a circular which, in a way, anticipated the concept of Hindu-Muslim unity the unborn child was destined to work for, later in his life. Notice how the Rana commanded his officers and their womenfolk to accord the young Hamida the same courtesies and facilities that they would offer a daughter of the Rana's family. In other words, the Rana accepted them not as refugees, but his own people, who had been struck by misfortune. It is hard to imagine the large-heartedness of the Ranas of those days!

Hamida Banu Begum, wife of Mughal Emperor Humayun. Anglo-Indian painting at Lucknow, late 19th century. The inscription on the picture reads - "Hamida Banu Begum, zaujah (wife) Shah Jahan Badshah (king)". This is a later painting. Hence, an error of the makers. Hamida Banu Begum was Humayun's wife.

Humayun and Rana Veersal Bond
Humayun was touched greatly by the warmth of deferential submissions made to him and his wife. The Rana placed at his disposal the entire resources of his kingdom, including an army comprising 2500 well-trained Rajput soldiers, for joint punitive action first against Shah Hussain of Sindh and then, if fortune favoured them, against Sher Shah Sur whom they considered to be the arch usurper and a common foe.
However, this union was later broken, thanks to Humayun's indulgence in sensual pleasures and inactivity. This is another story and is not part of our present discussion.

Humayun seated in a landscape, painted 1650. Original is present in Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.

Humayun Advised by Astrologers to Not Meet Akbar for a Month
At the instance of a Hindu astrologer, who foretold Humayun that if he did not set his eyes on his child for 30 days after his birth, the newborn would bring good fortune to him and the Timurid dynasty, Humayun decided to immediately march south-west of Amarkot, before Akbar's birth. Superstitious by nature, Humayun left Amarkot on 12th October, 1542, in disregard of the counsel of his Amirs. Three days later, Akbar was born.  

Celebrations At Akbar's Birth
The birth of a male child was a signal for festivities, the like of which had seldom before been seen in Amarkot. The fortress, enveloped in the light of the full moon, became the focal point of rejoicings which, as is customary in Hind, initially took the form of prayers to thank the Lord of Creation for bestowing upon the royal guests the gift of a son and heir. Drums were beaten to proclaim the happy event to the population. When dawn broke, alms were distributed to the poor. Community kitchens were set up and food served free to merry-makers and all those who came to town to take part in the celebrations. Temple bells were sounded, and dancers, clad in their shimmering red and yellow raiment, went into ecstatic performance of their skills before the images of deities worshipped for their sway over the forces of procreation.

Inside the palace, the motley group of Mughal ladies congratulated each other on an event they all believed was of uncommon significance. Traysful of sweets were passed around, and tables heaped with luscious fruits were laid out for the members of the King's household to feast upon. Merry-making continued for two days and nights without a stop. Khwaja Muazzam, brother of Hamida Banu, received the felicitations of Rajput courtiers on behalf of Humayun, and bestowed upon them khilats and robes of honour - suited to their ranks. The Khwaja sent hard-riding horsemen to convey the news to the "kingdom-less" Emperor who was camped sixteen miles from Amarkot at a picturesque place abounding in water and vegetation.

This is a portrait from Akbarnama - rare to be found. Hamida Banu Begum Gives Birth to Akbar - Hamida Banu Begum is reclining on a bed as she
is offered sweets for giving birth to the Mughal heir. Another woman seems to be waving something over her head, may be to drive away evil spirits.

The newborn Akbar is cradled by a Rajput lady, as the other ladies wait to attend to the baby with scented oil. A woman seems to be pounding
turmeric in the extreme left, to be applied to the mother and child along with the oil at the time of their first bath after the delivery.

A couple of brahmins in the centre seem to be waiting to look at the child before drawing his horoscope.

Notice the comfortable settings which Hamida Banu was provided by Rana Veersal for her confinement.
Can anyone say the Mughal couple was on the run for their life at this moment after losing their entire kingdom ?

This is the page of Akbarnama from which the above (and below) pictures showing birth of Akbar were carefully taken. The celebrations can be seen in the later half of the picture. Drums are beaten & alms are distributed to the poor in Amarkot on birth of Akbar.

More clear view of the above picture showing birth of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Everything written in the post can be seen in pictures, ranging from sweets to tumeric to oil, and the preparations to draw horoscope. The hospitality & help given to Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum by the Rana of Amarkot can be clearly seen.

Distribution of alms to the poor in Amarkot on birth of Akbar.
In the background, we can see Mango leaves on the doors of the fort, which points to a typical Hindu style of celebration.

Rejoicing in Amarkot on birth of Akbar. The performers can be seen showing acts with swords in hands.
Drums are beaten to announce the arrival of a Mughal prince. People can be seen praying to the Almighty.

When Tardi Beg broke the news to him, Humayun prostrated himself on the ground to thank Allah for His munificence. The assembled courtiers did the same. Some of them ventured to suggest that the Emperor return to Amarkot to share with Hamida Banu the joy of parenthood, but in vain. Humayun was determined to evade having a look at his son for thirty days. 

3 year old Akbar with Humayun and Hamida Bano Begum at Kabul..Portrait from Akbarnama

Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar Padshah, who ruled over sufficient part of Hind for forty-nine years, eight months and three days between 1556 and 1605 was totally illiterate. But he had the intrinsic curiosity to question almost everything and the only answer to his questions was a convincing reason. He questioned everything ranging from the use of Arabic alphabet to child marriage, or the denial of a daughter’s share in her father’s property but above all, he questioned religion as the basis of legitimacy of the state. 

Akbar's remarkable journey in the land of Hind started - in the palace of a Rajput Rana. And within a score of years, his life again intertwined with the Rajputs irrevocably. His birth had forecast a new dawn in the politics of India which demanded unity of all sorts and the later part of his life was dedicated to this mission. 

Today is the 473rd birth anniversary of this Mughal Emperor. Do share your thoughts about this magnificent legend in his memory today. 

Today is also the Birth Anniversary of the visionary leader, scientist and a great human, Late. Shri APJ Abdul Kalam Ji - the former President of the Union of India, who devoted his entire life for the progress of this nation.

Our Facebook Page can also be followed for interesting historical inputs. 

Thanks to Radhika for her contribution to this post.
The article has been posted under the Rajputs and Mughals(Akbar) section of this history BLOG.

Last Blog Post:
Details of Wives & Children of Maharana Pratap | With notes about availability of Rajput Records & Video of Udaipur Museum regarding conservation of artefacts with inputs from present Rana of Udaipur

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Details of Wives & Children of Maharana Pratap | With notes about availability of Rajput Records & Video of Udaipur Museum regarding conservation of artefacts with inputs from present Rana of Udaipur

Hi Everyone

Many of you have requested for details about the personal life of the Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap, seeking reliable information about his wives and children. This article is a culmination of my research into these aspects of the Maharana's life and aims to provide insightful details about his family, culled from various sources.

It is an accepted reality that one cannot easily adopt an objective approach while writing about the personal life of any historical character. One can only strive to consult as many sources as possible, before reaching any conclusions. A prime reason for confusion or simply lack of information in the open domain about the wives and children of historical figures is that eminent historians are usually more concerned with the social, political, religious, and other such aspects associated with the reign of any king. Royal protocol of many kingdoms also prevented detailed mention of the queens in chronicles that could be publicly accessed.

Another reason is that while several historical manuscripts are present in the private collections of the erstwhile ruling houses of Rajasthan, only those that are considered important are taken up for research and translation by eminent scholars. Hence, anyone who really wants to dig up something concrete about the personal lives of their favourite legends would benefit by reading the untranslated manuscripts which lie buried anonymously among thousands of other historical artefacts in these private collections.

I have gone deeply through 8 sources to prepare this article. These sources have been specified in the article, along with scans from them. I must admit, however, that i could not access 10 other sources that could have provided some additional information. This does not in any way imply that the article is lacking in details of any sort, as readers would also observe after a careful study.

The present article, by no means, claims to be a final authority regarding information about the wives and children of Maharana Pratap. My intention in posting this article is only to share the observations from my reading on this topic till now.

I have already stated that i could access only 8 ( out of 18 sources ) that could shed light on this highly personal and hard to procure information. I have provided details of the exact locations / addresses of the places in Rajasthan where such manuscripts are present, so that readers who wish to continue their personal research into this topic may be able to do so. It would be a pleasure if readers could share their research findings here with the rest of us. At the end of this post, a video has been uploaded which shows the wealth of information that may be obtained by a visit to the City Museum of Udaipur. Some points - worth thinking, have also been included at the end of the post, about availability of Rajput records.

Portrait of Maharana Pratap

This is not the original portrait of Maharana Pratap Singh. This portrait is based on a miniature made available from the Udaipur palace to the artist - Raja Ravi Varma Coil Thampuran. The original portrait is still with the Mewar Royals. 

Raja Ravi Varma was a 19th century painter and artist from the princely state of Travancore (present southern Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu). He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art and his works rank among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art.

Overall List of the Wives of Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap had 11 wives:

1. Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar - first wife of Maharana Pratap. He married her at the age of 17 in 1557. She was the disciple of Shri Vallabhacharya. See this post : Click Here

2. Rani Pur Bai Solankhini { A Solanki princess }

3. Rani Champa/Chaand Bai Jhali 

4. Rani Jasoda Bai Chauhan

5. Rani Phool Bai Rathore { Phool Kanwarani Ji before marriage, a Rathore princess from an offshoot of the Rajputs of Marwar }

6. Rani Shahmati Bai Hadi { A Hada princess - offshoot of Chauhans; Hadas were the rulers of Kota and Bundi. }

7. Rani Khichan Asha Bai

8. Rani Alamde Bai Chauhan { Another princess from the Chauhan clan. }

9. Rani Ratnawati Bai Parmar { Another Parmar princess after Ajabde Bai Parmar }

10. Rani Amar Bai Rathore { Another Rathore princess }

11. Rani Lakha Bai Rathore { Another Rathore princess }

This record, which can be termed the most authentic, as it is from the personal collection of the royal family of Mewar, has been used to compile the list of the wives and sons of Maharana Pratap. The details are from the manuscripts held in the private collection of the Maharanas of Mewar.

Maharana Pratap did not have any concubine in his women's residential quarters. He exercised a high degree of morality and followed a strict code of ideals & values in an era when keeping a concubine was considered the norm.
Most of his marriages were political alliances. The major exception to this was the first marriage of Maharana Pratap to Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar. Rana Amar Singh who succeeded Maharana Pratap as the ruler of Mewar and carried on his father's struggle against the Mughals was born to this couple.

Overall List of the Children of Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap had 17 sons from his 11 wives. No historical record of any daughters[see end of this post] could be found by us. None of his sons entered the Imperial Mughal service personally.

Here is a list of the Maharana's sons along with their estates:

1. Rana Amar Singh Ji 

Mother - Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar

The Maharana’s first son and successor, Rana Amar Singh Ji, was born in 1559. He inherited the estates of Gogunda and Udaipur from his father. When the Maharana was dying, Rana Amar Singh promised him that he would never enter the personal service of Mughal Emperors- a promise he kept lifelong. 

Rana Amar Singh waged continuous wars with the Mughals from 1597 to 1614. He fought in 17 individual battles including the major wars of 1606 and 1610, before the last long-drawn struggle which ended in 1614.

Description from Mewar Records - Birth of Rana Amar Singh on 16th March 1559 - the first son of Maharana Pratap & Ajabde Bai Parmar.  Rana Udai Singh was so happy that he proceeded immediately from Chittor and first went to pray at the Ekling Ji temple & then for hunting, at the village of Aahad. 
Later, Rana Udai Singh ordered a dam to be built on the Berach river to ensure adequate supply of water to Mewar. The Udai Sagar lake was developed as an outcome of this dam, which drains about 479 sq km, and covers an area of 10.5 sq km.

Udai Sagar Lake

Udai Sagar Lake - View from City

The Berach river is a major tributary of the Banas river in western Rajasthan. Chittorgarh was situated on the bank of this river. It originates in the Gogunda hills in the Udaipur district. 

Continuing the list of the sons of Maharana Pratap...

2. Kunwar Bhagwaan Das Ji
Mother - Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar

3. Kunwar Gopal Singh Ji

Mother - Rani Pur Bai Solankhini

4. Kunwar Sahasa / Sahem / Sahas Mal Ji.  He was granted the Dhariawad estate. His descendants are called Dhariavadwals.
Mother - Rani Pur Bai Solankhini

5. Kunwar Khachro Singh Ji inherited the estate of Jolawas, a place in the Gogunda tehsil of Udaipur district. He served as a deputy in the estate of his eldest brother Rana Amar Singh.

Mother - Rani Champa Bai Jhali

6. Kunwar Samwal Das Singh Ji inherited the estate of Jamuda in Salumber, which was the traditional estate of the loyal Chundawat sardars. Remember Rawat Chundawat who died in the battle of Chittor ?

Mother - Rani Champa Bai Jhali

Estates of the Sons of Maharana Pratap.
From : History of Rajputana, Khand 4, Zild 2, Pg-781, Vaidik Granthalaya, Ajmer, Rajasthan

7. Kunwar Durjan Singh Ji
Mother - Rani Champa Bai Jhali

8. Kunwar Kalyan Das Ji . He was granted the estate of Parsad (Parshad) area near Udaipur.
Mother - Rani Jasoda Bai Chauhan

9. Kunwar Chaanda Singh Ji, the second son of Maharana Pratap. He was given the estate of Anjana in Dariba tehsil.
Mother - Rani Phool Bai Rathore

10. Kunwar Shaikha Singh Ji. He was granted the estates of Bahera, Nana and Bera (Bijapur),  in the Gorawad.

Mother - Rani Phool Bai Rathore

11. Kunwar Pura Ji , also known as Thakur Puran Mal Ji. He was granted the estates of Mangrop (in the present Bhilwara district of Udaipur), Gurlam, Gadar-Mala & Singoli. He founded the Purawat offshoot of the Sisodia Rajputs.

Mother - Rani Shahmati Bai Hadi

12. Kunwar Haati Singh . He was granted the estates of Boriyas/Vais, Dantra and Gendlya (Gedalyo).

Mother - Rani Khichan Asha Bai

13. Kunwar Ram Singh. He was granted the estate of Mankari and Udaliyawas.

Mother - Rani Khichan Asha Bai

14. Kunwar Jaswant Singh / Jasut Singh Ji who was assigned the estates of Jaloda & Karunda.
Mother - Rani Alamde Bai Chauhan

The Sons of Maharana Pratap and Their Estates as per the Manuscript of Ranawali

15. Kunwar Maal Singh
Mother - Rani Ratnawati Bai Parmar

16. Kunwar Natha Singh

Mother -  Rani Amara Bai Rathore

17. Kunwar Rai Bhan Singh

Mother -  Rani Lakha Bai Rathore

Details From Other Rajput Records

Now we come to some other records that were encountered while searching for information about the sons and wives of Maharana Pratap. Listed here are 5 such records. Relevant scans have also been provided from these records. 

Before we begin, let me add that the some sources provided differing information. I have included these details, as i found them from the different sources, so that readers may analyse and draw their own conclusions without being influenced by my views. 

Record - 1

Manuscript - 827 {Hand-Copied}
Leaves : 14 - 11
Rajasthan Prachya Vidhya Pratisthan Library,

The Wives and Sons of Maharana Pratap, as per Manuscript 827

Here is the English translation of the scan:

1. Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar: Name of sons - Amarsingh Rana Ji, Bhagwan Das Ji
2. Rani Pur Bai Solankhini: Name of sons - Sahasa Ji, Gopal Ji
3. Rani Champa Bai Jhali: Name of son - Khachro Ji, Samwal Das Ji, Durjan Singh Ji
4. Rani Jasoda Bai Chauhan: Name of son - Kalyan Ji
5. Rani Phool Bai Rathore: Name of sons: Chaanda Singh Ji, Shaikha Singh Ji
6. Rani Shahmati Bai Hadi: Name of son - Pura Ji
7. Rani Asha Bai Khichan: Name of son - Haathi Singh Ji, Ram Singh Ji
8. Rani Alamde Chauhan: Name of son - Jaswant Singh Ji
9. Rani Ratnawati Bai Parmar: Name of son - Maal Singh Ji
10. Rani Amara Bai Rathore: Name of son - Naatha Singh Ji
11. Rani Lakha Bai Rathore: Name of son - Rai Bhan Singh Ji

Record - 2

Manuscript - 828 {Hand-Copied}
Leaves : 65 - 68
Rajasthan Prachya Vidhya Pratisthan Library,

The Wives and Sons of Maharana Pratap, as per Manuscript 828

This record mentions only 9 wives and 15 sons. The names of Rani Phool Bai Rathore and Rani Amara Bai Rathore have been left out. The names of Bhagwan Das Ji and Chaand Singh Ji have been left out.  

Here is the English translation of the scan:

1. Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar: Name of son - Amarsingh Ji
2. Rani Pur Bai Solankhini: Name of son - Bhagwan Das Ji
3. Rani Champa Bai Jhali: Name of sons - Sahasa Ji, Gopal Ji 
4. Rani Jasoda Bai Chauhan: Name of sons - Khachro Ji, Samwal Das Ji, Durjan Singh Ji 
5. Rani Shahmati Bai Hadi: Name of sons - Kalyan Ji, Shaikha Singh Ji, 
6. Rani Asha Bai Khichan: Name of son - Pura Ji 
7. Rani Alamde Chauhan: Name of sons - Haathi Singh Ji, Ram Singh Ji
8. Rani Ratnawati Bai Parmar: Name of son - Jaswant Singh Ji 
9. Rani Lakha Bai Rathore: Name of son - Naatha Singh Ji, Rai Bhan Singh Ji

As can be seen from the scan, there are contradictions regarding the mothers of the sons of Maharana Pratap. It's almost as if the sons have been assigned to the name of the succeeding queen in the list in many instances. This matches with Record 4 to a great of extent.

Record - 3

Manuscript - 867 {Hand-Copied}
Leaves : 24 - 28/26 {Could not read the number clearly in the photocopy i made, it is either 26 or 28}
Rajasthan Prachya Vidhya Pratisthan Library,

This record provides the names of the sons only, as can be seen in the scan. It lists only 10 sons, out of which the name of one son (Meg Raj Ji) appears in only 2 of the 5 records posted here.

It leaves out the names of Thakur Bhagwan Das Ji, Thakur Samwal Das Singh Ji, Thakur Durjan Singh Ji, Kunwar Ram Singh, Kunwar Jaswant Singh, Kunwar Rai Bhan Singh, Thakur Gopal Singh Ji, and Kunwar Maal Singh.  

The Sons of Maharana Pratap, as per Manuscript 867

As per this record, the names of the Maharana's sons are:

1. Rana Amar Singh Ji
2. Sosi Ji - Thakur Sahahsa / Sahem / Sahas Mal Ji
3. Pura Ji or Puravat - Thakur Pura Ji
4. Sesho Ji or Seshavat - Thakur Shaikha Singh Ji
5. Yati Ji - Kunwar Haati Singh
6. Kalan Ji - Thakur Kalyan Das Ji
7. Kachro Ji - Thakur Khachro Singh Ji
8. Megraj Ji - Kunwar Meg Raj Ji: This name has not been mentioned in the previous 2 records. It is only mentioned in this record and in Record 5 (see below).
9. Nag Ji - Kunwar Natha Singh
10. Chando Ji - Thakur Chaand Singh Ji
11. Left blank
12. Left blank


Record - 4

Manuscript - 872 {Hand-Copied}
Leaves : 136 - 146
Rajasthan Prachya Vidhya Pratisthan Library,

This record again provides the names of the wives and sons of the Maharana. According to it, the Maharana had 10 wives (Rani Shahmati Bai Hadi is left out) and 14 sons. It does not mention the names of the princes: Thakur Chaand Singh Ji, Thakur Shaikha Singh Ji, and Kunwar Haati Singh.

The Wives and Sons of Maharana Pratap, as per Manuscript 872 

As mentioned earlier, this record matches Record 2 to a lot of extent. 

Here is the English translation of the scan:

1. Maharani Ajabde Bai Parmar: Name of son - Amarsingh Ji
2. Rani Pur Bai Solankhini: Name of son - Bhagwan Das Ji
3. Rani Champa Bai Jhali: Name of sons - Sahasa Ji, Gopal Ji 
4. Rani Jasoda Bai Chauhan: Name of sons - Khachro Ji, Samwal Das Ji, Durjan Singh Ji 
5. Rani Phool Bai Rathore: Name of sons - Kalyan Ji 
6. Rani Asha Bai Khichan: Name of son - Pura Ji 
7. Rani Alamde Chauhan: Name of sons - Ram Singh Ji
8. Rani Amaravati (same as Ratnawati Bai Parmar): Name of son - Jaswant Singh Ji 
9. Rani Amara Bai Rathore: Name of son - Maal Singh Ji
10. Rani Lakha Bai Rathore: Name of son - Naatha Singh Ji, Rai Bhan Singh Ji

Record - 5

Manuscript Number - 262
Leaves : 21 - 24

Sisod Vanshawali,
Literature Section of Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University Library,
Pratap Nagar, Udaipur - 313003, Rajasthan

{Folks staying in Udaipur can visit this University to access this manuscript.}

This record also provides information about the sons of Maharana Pratap. Again, it lists only 10 sons and is similar to Record 3.

The Sons of Maharana Pratap, as per Manuscript 262

It lists the following names:

1. Rana Amar Singh Ji
2. Sosi Ji - Thakur Sahahsa / Sahem / Sahas Mal Ji
3. Pura Ji / Puravat - Thakur Pura Ji , also known as Thakur Puran Mal Ji.
4. Sesho Ji - Thakur Shaikha Singh Ji
5. Haati Ji - Kunwar Haati Singh
6. Kalan Ji - Thakur Kalyan Das Ji
7. Kachro Ji - Thakur Khachro Singh Ji
8. Megraj Ji
9. Nag Ji - Kunwar Natha Singh.
10. Chando Ji - Thakur Chand Singh Ji
11. Left blank
12. Left blank


The discrepancies found in the lists of family members in the last 5 records are to be expected. This is because these records were made later, without the official sanction of the Mewar royal house. Most of the information in these records may have been compiled based on memory or "commonly known" details. These were not written in Mewar and their author is unknown till now. Research is still going on in this field.

It is possible that the names of the mothers of the royal princes were not clearly known to the common people, especially from later generations, because princes were usually brought up together by all the royal women of the raniwaas, especially the senior queens. We saw that the names of some of the queens and princes have been omitted or left blank, most probably because they were not known to the later generations of chroniclers.

The most important reason for the discrepancies could be an error in copying from the original manuscripts or understanding the sequence of sons and queens in the list. For instance, the most common mistake in these records is that the son of one queen has been assigned to the succeeding queen. This kind of error explains a lot about how the mismatches could have occurred.

However, clear records are present in the private collection of the Maharanas of Mewar, which serve as a reference for historians, and which have been used to compile the overall lists of wives and sons of Maharana Pratap in this article. 

Readers are requested to share any information they may have regarding this topic,  in general interest, because such information is quite rare and hard to gather.

Update on Daughters of Maharana Pratap :

Though, I have personally, not found any information about the daughters of Maharana Pratap. However, a friend has recently provided the following information about the daughters of Maharana Pratap. I am still in a process of going through the records, the details will be updated, as soon as they are obtained. Till then, here is what i have to be shared with my readers :

1. Asha Kunwarni Ji : She was the wife of Raj Rana Jhala Deeda of Sadhri. He died in 1609, fighting the forces of Mughal Emperor Jahangir under Abdullah Khan. (He was the son of Raj Rana Beeda Singh Jhala who died in the Battle of Haldighati, 1576). See the end of this post , point number 4 of Epilogue : Click Here

2. Suk-Kunwarani Ji 

3. Rama Kunwarani Ji

4. Rakmavati Kunwarani Ji

5. Kusumavati Kunwarani Ji

6. Durgavati Kunwarani Ji


Miscellaneous Information for Interested Readers

 A Video About the City Museum of Udaipur

Mughal records were accessible to the British 200 years back. Out of an earnest curiosity to learn about the dynasty that had ruled India for centuries before them and the manner in which it had been able to do so, the British started translating Mughal chronicles from Persian to English over the years. As a result, most Mughal records can be read in English today.

The same did not hold true for Rajput records. They remained almost unknown and inaccessible to anyone. Historians strangely neglected this vast reservoir of an alternative POV of history till around the mid-20th century. 

In the 1950s, the Government of India explored means to bring to light the rich history of Rajasthan. In 1953, a fact finding committee was appointed by the Government of India, with a view to preserve & study the public as well as private records in the custody of erstwhile royal families of Rajasthan. The committee submitted its report after 8 years, in 1961, in which it declared that "the cultural heritage of Rajasthan goes back to the remotest period of Indian history and the archival wealth of the area is enormous."

Incredible Depth of Historical Records in Rajasthan: Exploring and Cataloguing Private and Public Manuscripts

Since then, various initiatives have been taken and research into these untranslated records is still under progress. Many special measures were taken in the 1980s.

The following video depicts the recent conservation activities and efforts being undertaken in Udaipur, Rajasthan to make Rajput records more easily available to the common people. It features the present Rana of Udaipur. Even today, many Rajput records are locked in the private collections of erstwhile royal families and many glorious details and several important facts lie hidden from our eyes. In this video, one can see "sealed, age-old trunks" containing various artefacts and historical records, which are in the process of being catalogued and archived systematically. 

The historical records of the Jaipur (erstwhile Amer) and Mewar royal houses are among the richest in our country. The records of Jaipur go to the extent of preserving the details of daily proceedings in the Imperial Court. The collection of Mewar alone contains 35,000+ paintings, which are slowly being brought into the public domain through the palace museum. Last year, the present Maharana had announced the declassification of 13,000 historical artefacts during his lifetime so that common people today could read and understand the rich heritage of Mewar. 

Both the videos are the same. You can watch whichever video streams faster in your browser, to get a glimpse of how this initiative is being nurtured and how time-consuming and expensive the process of archiving these details is. Unfortunately, the government is not providing much financial support for the process.

We hope that just like Mughal and other records are easily available for us to read today, the glorious past of Rajasthan will also be soon available for everyone to discover and appreciate.

Our Facebook Page can also be followed for interesting historical inputs.

Thanks to Radhika for her contribution to this post.
The article has been posted under the Rajputs section of this history BLOG.

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