Rajputana history is filled with so much fearlessness and bravery, making it fascinating to study. Many fierce and holy warriors like Bappa Rawal, Rana Sangha, and Rana Hamir were born in the land of Mewar and were given the title ‘Rana’ but there was one holiest of the holy king who was bestowed with the title of ‘Maharana’.
And, that valiant, valorous, and chivalrous king was Pratap Singh or Rana Pratap. A renowned history professor in the book ‘Maharana Pratap’ has written a spirited account of Pratap Singh in which he glorified the undaunted king.
He said, “if courage was the distinguishing badge of the Rajputs, Pratap had more than his share of it; if the unflinching resolution and indomitable will ever be made a hero of a man, Pratap was one. If ever a man fought against fearful odds and pulled through them, it was he.”
Early Life and Accession to Throne
The Greatest King of Mewar Maharana Pratap was born on May 9, 1540, in Kumbhalgarh Fort of Rajasthan. He was the son of Rana Udai Singh and Rani Jeevant Kanwar. Husband of twenty-five royal consorts, Rana Udai Singh was the father of 25 legitimate sons.
Maharana Pratap was the eldest among twenty-five sons. Maharana Pratap was said to be 7 feet 5 inches tall, and weighing more than 110 kilograms.
Udai Singh willed that Jagmal, his second son, from his favorite wife should succeed him. Jagmal was not known to possess any overwhelming merits. Udai Singh’s death had to be followed immediately by his successor.
The decision of Rana Udai Singh to allow Jagmal to succeed him came as a thunderbolt to the chiefs of the Mewar. Some of the chiefs resented it as an insult as they were not consulted. The followers of Mewar’s chief were with Maharana Pratap.
Maharana Pratap’s maternal uncle, Rao Akhai, Raja of Jhalor took the lead and after consulting Rawat Kishan Daas, Rawat Sangha, and Raja Ram Parshad, the deposed ruler of Gwalior made Jagmat vacate his royal seat.
Jagmal had not dared to disobey all these irreversible demands. The throne was now vacant and Pratap was proclaimed Rana. The chiefs paid in their customary ‘nasrana’ and the royal court resounded with cries of ‘Pratap Ro Jai’.
The accession to the throne of Mewar was not a bed of roses for Maharana Pratap. At that time, it was hard and stern responsibility upon the shoulders of Pratap.
Also Read : Contribution Made by Ancient Indian to Science and Technology You Never Knew !
At that time Akbar became the Emperor of India. For Akbar, the problem of governing India was twofold:
- First, the question of conquering the larger part of India and consolidating those conquests
- Second, the method of governing India
Though, Akbar soon found the solution. He abolished the humiliating distinctions between his Hindu and Mohammedan subjects. His system of Mansabdars included Hindus also. Raja Todar Mal was one of the nine ratnas.
Raja Bhagwan Dass, Raja Man Singh, and Raja Ratan Singh of Bikaner were Akbar’s famous Generals. By offering lenient terms to the conquered and by allowing the Rajputs to retain their territories as fiefs from the Imperial government and by other generous measures, Akbar made it easier for the opponents to submit to him.
But Akbar’s desire to expand imperialism came in a clash with Pratap’s firm decision not to submit before the Emporer. Maharana Pratap’s accession to the throne gave a tough challenge to Akbar’s expansionist ambitions. By 1572, Akbar had conquered a large part of India.
- The defeat of Sikandar Shah had given him Punjab alone.
- The battle of Panipat in 1556 put the Doab at his disposal.
- Mewat and Alwar fell in 1557.
- Jammu was also conquered and occupied in 1558.
- Raja Ram Shah of Gwalior was dispossessed in 1559.
The first to submit to the Emperor was Raja Bhar Mal of Amber. In 1562 Raja Bhar Mal married his daughter, Jodha to Akbar. Jodha was the mother of Salim.In November 1570, Rao Chander Sen of Jodhpur, Rao Kalyan Mal of Bikaner, and Rao Udai Singh Rathor confirmed their submission by matrimonial alliances with Akbar.
Of the Rajput rulers, the Rathors of Jodhpur and Bikaner, the Bhatis of Jesalmer, the Kachhwahas of Jaipur, the Deoras of Sarohi, the Hadas of Bundi, the Sisodias of Mewar had all been made the presence of the Great Ruler on the throne of Delhi.All these states except, Mewar, Bundi, and Sarohi confirmed their submission to the Emporer by matrimonial alliances. Rao Chander Sen of Jodhpur and Rao Surtan of Sarohi who were against Akbar at that time were dwindled down by the Imperial forces.
The Battle of HaldiGhati
Akbar faced the real issue presented by Maharana Pratap. In the words of historian RN Prasad, “The Maharana stood like a stumbling block in the Emperor’s scheme of annexing the whole of Rajasthan to his Empire.” Akbar even tried to open negotiations with Pratap. Though he was not successful.
On 18 June 1576, the Historic Battle of Haldighati was fought between Maharana Pratap and Akbar forces. Akbar’s army led by Man Singh was 2,00,000 soldiers while Pratap’s army was only 22,000 soldiers.
The presence of Maharana Pratap was a great encouragement to his soldiers and his heroic acts on that day were their inspiration. Maharana Pratap and his soldiers concentrated all their energies on the battle. They began to ply their swords and were using their spears as well.
Chetak’s Profound Loyalty
Maharana Pratap with his sword and spears had made a glorious day of it. One thing in the entire battle that had so much heart was when Rana Pratap’s horse Chetak jumped on the head of the elephant, mounted by Man Singh, and Pratap delivered his full blow.
However, Man Singh managed to save himself but his Mahaut (elephant) fell down dead. The small spear in the long trunk of the Mahuat pierced one foot of the Chetak.
The advantage of a number made the Mughals decidedly at a better stand. Maharana Pratap stood surrounded by all sides and was in no small danger. Pratap cut his way through and managed to leave the battlefield safely.
When Pratap was making away from the field, two Mughal soldiers recognized him and started chasing him. Pratap was very exhausted.
Chetak was also tired out and was all bruised. A 28 feet-long-running stream came in the way and Chetak crossed it over. After some time, Chetak fell down dead at his feet. This made Pratap weep like a young child.
Later, A beautiful garden was constructed by him in memory of Chetak.
The Death of Maharana Pratap
Maharana Pratap took his last breath on 29th January 1597 at the age of 56. He died of hunting after being hit by the lion on his chest due to which he was badly hurt and the wound inside his chest increased which gradually deteriorated his health.
Men have shrunk back from the very thought of adversity; Maharana Pratap, a Prince among men, invited it. Comfort and luxury have been accepted by thousands of this world’s heroes, but Pratap scorned them when they had to be bought at the cost of his independence.
To read the stories in Hindi follow StackUmbrella.in