The history of Rajasthan is as fascinating and romantic as its forts, Aravalli and chivalry. Among all the nobles and kings, there the niche in which Rana Pratap stands has become the holiest of holy. If courage was a distinguishing badge of Rajasthan, Pratap had more share of it. If unflinching resolution and indomitable will ever be made a hero of man, Pratap was one. If ever man fought against fearful odds and pulled through them, it was Pratap. Comfort and luxury were hugged by thousands of the world’s heroes, Pratap rejected them when they have to be bought at cost of independence and sovereignty. All of Persia, England, and Arabia felt honoured in sending costly embassies to Mughal Court, but Pratap sent word of defiance. What was the result of this? There was not a single pass in Aravalli which hasn’t witnessed the blood of brilliant victories and glorious defeats.
Mewar before Maharana Pratap
Under the present dynasty, the history of Mewar began in 728 A.D., when Kalbhoj Bappa Rawal claimed the throne of Chittaur. He is reputed to have defeated the Muslim force under Mohammad bin Qasim and threw them on other side of the Indus. Bappa Rawal was succeeded by the race of warriors. In the first Battle of Terain, Sumer Singh proved to be a staunch ally of Prithviraj Chauhan and defeated Mohammad Ghori. After the sack of Chittaurgarh and Jauhar of Rani Padmavati in 1295, Mewar came under Muslim rule. This began the more eventful period of strife, never deciding yet never-ending resistance between Delhi and Mewar, which dyed the history of Rajasthan in the blood of its heroic defenders. Then rose Rana Hammir, he expelled the Muslim governor from Mewar and waged a successful war against Muhammad Tughlaq. Tughlaq was defeated and made prisoner, he was released after surrendering Ajmer, Nagaur and Ranthambore. Rana Hammir was considered the lord of all the Princes in Rajasthan. Then came Rana Kumbha, he defeated Mahmud, King of Malwa and captured it, there is a Vijay Stambh in Chittaur Fort. Kumbha built Kumbhalgarh fort and heavily fortified it. The most famous ancestor of Pratap was his grandfather Rana Sanga. Rana Sanga consolidated the whole Rajputana, Central India and Malwa by defeating Sultan Mahmud, and making him prisoner. Princes felt honoured to follow Rana Sanga to every battlefield, he lost one hand, one leg and an eye in battles, yet lived a courageous life to inspire his followers. Rana Sanga defeated Ibrahim Lodhi at Khatali in 1517 and again in 1518 and captured Chanderi. Sanga moved toward Delhi in order to establish Hindu dominion over Delhi after 350 years. After seizing Bayana, Rana Sanga was defeated at the Battle of Khanwa on March 17, 1527, and Delhi was lost to the Turks. Linked guns were used first time in this battle and Shiladi of Raisen switched sides in midst of the war and joined the Turk camp under Babur. Rana Sanga left no successor worthy of his name.
Mewar during Maharana Pratap
Pratap was born in 1540, considered to be the rightful heir of his courageous grandfather Rana Sanga. Against the decision of Rana Udai Singh, Pratap was coronated at Gogunda by all other chiefs and commanders in a decided ‘coup de main’. Pratap was now proclaimed Rana, custodian of Mewar and began to rule in the name of Ekling Nath Ji. Jagmal, his brother left Mewar and joined Turk(Mughal) camp against Rana Pratap. Rana Pratap left for Kumbhalgarh, where he was received by Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur, who had vowed eternal enmity against Turks. Accession to the throne of Mewar was not a bed of roses but it was the only seat of resistance against foreign Islamic imperialism.
Akbar in order to consolidate his rule started Mansabdari system and included a large number of Hindus, who were not ready to fight for freedom. This includes Todar Mal, Maan Singh, Bhagwan Das, and Rao Raj of Bikanaear. Their ancestors were once fighting along with the army of Rana Sanga and now they were subjugated in the service of Turk Akbar. Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur, Rao Kalyan of Bikanaear, and Rao Udai Rathore didn’t submit and started a resistance in exile. Thus, when Pratap assumed the position of Rana, almost the whole of Northern India acknowledged Turks as their sovereign and master. Mewar, Bundi and Sarohi didn’t surrender or, entered any alliances. The rulers who surrendered eventually get their rule back but in the form of Jagir by Akbar.
At the time of Pratap’s accession to the throne, half of the Mewar was under Turk but they never received revenue from that area because Pratap vowed farmers to not grow a single crop and defy the foreign, farmers did the same. The whole tract of land has no crop whatsoever, Turk outpost has to be supplied food grains from Ajmer. Even Turks were not able to measure the part of the land (7 districts) they control in Mewar. These are the self-evident fact that they control part of Mewar only on paper. Mewar was in the way between Gujarat ports and Agra, hence Akbar was desperate to see Rana Pratap submitting sovereignty of Mewar in Mugal (Turk) court.
Akbar sent 6 diplomatic missions to persuade Rana Pratap, but he defied every mission. Maan Singh, Bhagwan Das and Todar Mal were the main ones to carry these missions to Mewar. Maan Singh was invited to dinner when he arrived to meet Rana Pratap. After Maan Singh’s departure, Pratap gave the order for purification of the site. The holy water of Ganges was poured to remove every stain of place having been defiled by the presence of Rajputs who had preferred luxury over motherland and hard independence. Every proud son who has been invited to occasion bathed and changed clothes to remove the unholy touch of Maan Singh. Such was the Rana Pratap’s dislike for the Turks and their allies (whosoever they are). The empire of India was not worthwhile for Akbar if it had two sovereign heads in India with Hindupat in Mewar.
Akbar knew that Mewar, the holy land of Hindupat can’t be invaded so easily. He was hesitant in going to the battlefield. He doesn’t even fully trust his other Hindu commanders, he probably knew that in every Hindu heart whether sovereign or submitted, Mewar is inherently loved. For them, Pratap was not just a rebel but a Sovereign Hindu King because Mewar in its history of 800 years of existence never submitted to any invader. In the time of Rana Sanga, they were very close to even capturing Delhi. Mewar had subdued Malwa, Gujarat and Central India under its sword, Vijay Stambh in Chittaur signifies the glory of Mewar. Pratap himself rejected every offer of a place in the Imperial court and decided to hug the independence of his motherland and defend it as long as he can.
Turk army invaded Mewar and a battle was fought in Haldighati. The ground was uneven and it abounded in prickly shrubs. Mewar’s forward attack was so hard that Turk forward fell back upon its centre. The left wing of the Turk army was defeated in no time, the central command under Pratap swept Ghazi Khan and the central command of the Turk army was broken, Turk army started running away. Badayuni described that “in 20 years this is the first time Mughal Army (Turk) is fleeing away from battle field”. Abul Fazal and Badayuni both praised the Mewar army whose valour pushed back the large imperial army. Most of the Turk soldiers fled up to 12 miles away from Haldi Ghati (Akbarnama, Vol.3 Page 174-175). The presence of Rana gave great encouragement to his followers, the left centre and forward army of Turks was broken, fled and killed (Jagdish Temple inscription verse 40-42). The battle was finished and Bhil archers were killing every Turk with bows and arrows from hills and bushes. The Mewar line of Elephant penetrated the core of Turk battle formation. Maan Singh mounted on his elephant was faced by Rana Pratap on his horse ‘Chetak’. Rana Pratap was busy the whole day sword and made a glorious day, but there was one thing he had so much in heart – engagement with Maan Singh. Rana was at last on his prey & balancing his spear spurred, he delivered a full blow. The spear pierced through the body of Mahawat and cracked steeled Howdah. Maan Singh was saved but swords mounted on the trunk of the elephant pierced Chetak’s one leg (Amar Kavya, Page 85).
Jhala Man saved Rana by sacrificing his own life and Rana Pratap rode Chetak out of the battlefield. Battle was called of by Maan Singh due to heavy casualties on the Turk side and he’s asked for more reinforcements from Ajmer. (Akbarnama, Badayuni, Sanskrit Inscriptions and Raj Prashasti have opposing views on casualties)
Marxist historians claimed that the Mughals have a decisive victory on that day in Haldighati. But it should be noticed that even after the Battle of Haldighati, all the lands donated or assigned to farmers were given in the name of Shri Ekling Ji, undersigned by Dewan Rana Pratap. Akbar banished Maan Singh and Muslim commanders from the imperial court for one year. Do Kings banish their victorious commanders or facilitate them?
Rana Pratap was left with limited resources around 3000 soldiers and a few Bhil soldiers. Rana Pratap changed his way of battle from Open field to a new technique of Guerrilla warfare which was later mastered by his great-grandson Rana Raj Singh and in Deccan by Chhatrapati Raje Shivaji. (The guerrilla technique was so effective that once Raje Shivaji sent a letter to Aurangzeb taunting him that if he has guts then collect Jaziya from Hindupat Rana Raj of Mewar). Rana Pratap decisively defeated Mughals in the Battle of Dewair, 1582 around 30 Mughal posts were captured and 36000 Turks surrendered. Rana continued the Guerrilla war for 11 years, Bhil, Lohar and Traders everyone left their homes and went to live in the jungle to support their ‘Hindupat’ Rana. Rana’s attacks were now more frequent, surprising and even more slaughtering. Marxist historians when talking about Haldighati take only the next 2-3 months into consideration when a large number of Turks were poured from Ajmer and Agra in order to capture Gogunda. They don’t take Battle of Dewair or 11 years of prolonged war into consideration. Either they should talk about only Haldighati day or talk about the whole 11 years of war. Even Akbar stationed himself in Malwa sending more army to Mewar to completely capture Rana, but he failed, he never went to Mewar himself leading forces. Rana Pratap then defeated the Mughals and captured back all the Mewar including Kumbhalgarh and Gogunda, he only couldn’t capture back Chittaur fort. To wipe off ancient scores with Maan Singh, Rana led an expedition to Jaipur and captured all the revenue collected in Malpur, and brought it back to Mewar. His life was so happening in the jungle that, Rana used to have 3 meals on 2-3 different places in those 11 years from 1576 to 1587. He died in 1597, rather peacefully establishing Mewar to older glory except for Chittaur Fort.
Maharana Pratap occupies a very high place in the galaxy of the Hindu leaders who inaugurated the war against Muslim domination in India. When the whole northern plain submitted there was a line of warriors from Rana Hammir, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga and Maharana Pratap who kept hold of the sovereignty of Hindupat. They were later joined by illustrious Chatrapati Raje Shivaji, Maharaja Chhatrasaal and Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab. Rana Pratap believed in forming coalitions against Turks, he united Deoras, Rathores, Hadas and Chauhans. As soon as one coalition died Rana would build another one. According to him, no coalition is permanent only the goal of independence of the motherland is permanent. Rana’s followers which include 1 Raja, 3 Raos and 7 Rawats never deserted him even after 11 years of fight and innumerable invasions, they bought their freedom by courage and blood. Rana has nothing to offer to Bhil tribals but they choose motherland over wealth and Swadharma over Turks. Rana Pratap hated Turks so immensely and think of them as violated of Swadharma and Swantantrata. Pratap taught that there is no harm in delaying battles till the appropriate force is acquired, and no problem in sudden attack without announcing it to the enemy.
A great General, a brave warrior, a successful organiser, a Prince among men, a generous foe. Maharana Pratap’s name is sure to be honoured where this virtue is respected.