History of Mewar and Maharana Pratap
Vikrant Parmar and k. Singh
Let’s start this article by citing a wonderful composition in the honor of Maharana Pratap by Shrimad Ishadutt (श्रीमदीशदत्त-विरचित):
अभूत्पुरा भारतभाविभासकः स एकलिङ्गस्य सदंघ्र्युपासकः।
महाबली दुर्गचित्तोड़शासकः प्रतापसिंहः परतापनाशकः॥
The one who had spread Bharatiya glory, the worshipper of Shri Ekalingaji, the ruler of Chittor fort (दुर्गचित्तोड़शासकः), Maharana Pratap Singh was always quick to relieve the suffering of others.
अर्थात् – भारतीय गरिमा को फैलाने वाले, श्री एकलिंग जी के उपासक, चित्तौड़ दुर्ग के शासक, दूसरों की पीड़ा को (परेषां तापं) दूर करने मे तत्पर महाबली प्रताप सिंह राजा हुए।
Brief Introduction to Mewar
Sanskrit inscriptions and literary evidence suggest that Mewar was called Medpata (मेदपाट) in earlier times. There are many small and big forts in Mewar but the most famous ones are the forts of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh and Mandalgarh. Chittorgarh had been the capital seat of Ranas of Mewar until Maharana Uday Singh (reign: 1540-72) founded Udaipur (Rajprashasti Inscription: “राना उदयसिंहोथ स दिव्योदयसागरं तथोदयपुरम्”) and made it as the second capital. Uday Singh started establishing Udaipur (much before the fall of Chittor in 1568).
Mewar is famous for Ekalingaji Temple, situated in Kailashpuri village (at Girwa Tehsil, Udaipur District), near to the former Mewar Capital, Nagda. Ekalinga Mahatmyam mentions that Bhagavan Shiva will appear on the land of Medapata by the name Ekalinga and that Shri Nandi will appear as the King by the name Bappa (शम्भो श्रीएकलिङ्ग नामा भव भुवि मेदपाटत्वम्। श्रीनन्दिन…त्वं श्रीमति द्विजानां वंशे बाष्पो नृपो भूयाः).
Rima Hooja in her book (A History of Rajasthan) comments: “Bappa was given the title of Diwan (regent) of Ekalingaji. This title has been proudly borne by rulers of the line since that time. Bappa is said to have helped the Pratihara King, Nagabhatta-I, in repulsing Arab invaders at that time.”
Ekalingaji is considered as the head of Mewar Rajya (Mewar-Adhipati), and therefore Maharana of Mewar is also called दीवाणजी (Diwanji). Shrimad-ekalinga-daivata (श्रीमदेकलिङ्गदैवत) i.e. worshipping Shrimad Ekalinga had also been used for the rulers of Mewar in Ekalinga Mahatmyam.
Various names of Ekalingaji (एकलिङ्गस्य नामानि) that are mentioned in Ekalinga Mahatyam:
▪️ गुहिलवंशवर्धनलिङ्ग (Guhila-vansha-vardhan-linga)
▪️ श्रीकुम्भेश्वरलिङ्ग (Shri-kumbheshwar-linga)
▪️ श्रीमोकलेश्वरलिङ्ग (Shri-mokaleshwar-linga)
▪️ महालिङ्ग (Mahalinga)
▪️ आदिलिङ्ग (Adilinga)
▪️ राजेश्वरलिङ्ग (Rajeshwar-linga)
▪️ अनन्तलिङ्ग (Anant-linga)
▪️ जगदीश्वरलिङ्ग (Jagadishwar-linga)
Rajavaṃśa (राजवंश) of Mewar Rājya
Guhila rajavaṃśa of Medapata (Mewar) is named after Raja Guhila or Grahaditya or Guhadatta (circa 6th century CE). Guhila is mentioned as one of the kings in the ancient line of Suryavaṃśa Kshatriya in the Rajprashasti Inscription of Mewar: श्रीराणाराजसिंहस्य ज्ञहावीरस्य वर्णने। वाष्पः सूर्यान्वयी सर्गे सूर्यवंशं वदेग्रिमे॥ The vaṃśavali in this inscription starts from ancient Kings of Suryavaṃśa like Ikshavaku till Guhilas, Sisodiyas and so on.
After Guhila, Bappa was one of the illustrious king in the line of Guhilas (Rajprashasti Inscription – “ग्रहादित्यसुताः सर्वे गहिलौताभिधायुताः जाता युक्त तेषु पुत्रो ज्येष्ठो वाष्पाभिधोभवत्”). This verse clearly tells that Bappa (वाष्पः) was a Suryavaṃśa Kshatriya. Bappa has been identified as Kalabhoja by G.H. Ojha and he gave the time of Bappa to be around 734 CE to 753 CE.
Moreover, the title of “Rawal” was used by Bappa (Rajaprashasti Inscription: “रावलाख्यां पदवी दधानो वाष्पाभिधानः सरराज राजा”). This Inscription also explains that the word Rawal (रावल) is made up of the first letter of these three words:
▪️ रा = राज्यातिपूर्णत्व
▪️ व = वरत्व
▪️ ल = लक्ष्मीमयत्व
Rima Hooja in her book (A History of Rajasthan) comments: “… tradition holds that it was Bappa Rawal who took the famed fort of Chitrakuta (Chittor) from Man Mori (King Manuraja), the last of the Mori kings of Chittor. For this, and other activities of his life, Bappa apparently had the blessings of a holy man named Harit rishi, whom Bappa had accepted as his spiritual preceptor (guru) at a young age. It is said that it was this sage who initiated Bappa into Saivism, and encouraged him to build the now-famous Ekalingaji temple at Nagda, the Guhila capital. It is claimed that the Ekalingaji temple has been revered as the shrine of the family-deity of the Mewar ruling clan since that period.”
From Rawal Ranasimha (Karansimha), two prominent branches of Guhila rajavaṃśa emerged. Main branch (which used the title of “Rawal”) ruled using Chittor as capital. Other branch (junior branch) of Guhila rajavaṃśa came to be known as Sisodiyas (because they held the estate of Sisoda). Sisodiyas trace their descent from Rahapa (who used the title of “Rana”). Rana Rahapa was one of the younger sons of Rawal Ranasimha (Karansimha).
It is famous that Shri Sharasalla, a Pallivala Brahmin from Sanderao (Pali) & well-known scholar of Vedas, gave blessings of victory to Rana Rahapa (Raj Ratnakar: “एकदा शरसल्लाख्यं ब्राह्मणं वेदपारगं गुर्जरादागतं हृयं पत्लीवालकुलोद्भवम्“). Thereon, Rana Rahapa declared that Sharasalla descendents will be Rajapurohitas of Sisodiya Rajputs. Sharasalla Descendents continued serving Mewar, infact, Purohit Gopinath fought alongside Maharana Pratap at Haldighati (Battle of Khamnaur); another later descendent, Purohit Garibdas, was the key advisor of Maharana Raj Singh-I.
During the reign of Rawal Ratan Singh (r. 1302-1303 CE), Alauddin Khalji had taken hold of Chittor. Therefore, the senior ruling branch of Guhilas of Mewar had perished. It was Rana Hammira Singh of junior branch of Guhila Rajputs i.e. Sisodiyas, who took the possession of Chittor around 1337 CE and freed Mewar from the clutches of Delhi Sultanate. Infact, G.H. Ojha concludes that not only Mewar but nearly the whole of Rajputana became practically independent of Delhi Sultanate at that time. After Hammira Singh, Sisodiyas continued consolidating their position and built a powerful kingdom. Under Sisodiyas, Mewar saw many powerful kings like Rana Kheta, Rana Mokal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, Rana Pratap etc.
Thus we observe that Rana Pratap belonged to the Rajput clan of Sisodias, which itself was one of the branches of Guhila Rajputs. Guhilas were descendents of Raja Guhila and Raja Guhila is explicitly mentioned in the ancient line of Suryavaṃśa Kshatriyas in the Rajprashasti Inscription of Mewar. In a nutshell, Rana Pratap was from the vaṃśa to which Bhagavan Shri Rama belonged i.e. from Suryavaṃśa !
The Invincible King: Maharana Pratap Singh
MAHARANA PRATAP was born in the kingdom of Mewar, on 9th May, 1540 (Jyeshtha Sudi 3, 1597 of the Vikram Samvat) to Queen Jayawanti (belonging to Songara clan of Rajputs) and Maharana Uday Singh. Maharana Pratap was given the name Kika by the Bhils in whose associations his early days were spent. In the Bhili dialect of south-western Mewar and Gujarati, the word Kika stands for a small boy. Abdul Qadir Badayuni addresses Maharana Pratap by the name of “Kika” in his work Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh: “Rana Kika, ruler of kumalmair (Kumbhalgarh) & Kokandah (Gogunda).”
Francois Bernier (17th century) described entrance of Red Fort:
“… two large elephants of stone, placed at either side of the principal gate. On one of elephants is a seated statue of Jemel [Jaimal Rathore]…on other is the statue of Polta [Patta Sisodia]… These are the brave heroes who, with their still braver mother, immortalised their names by the extraordinary resistance which they opposed to the Ekbar [Akbar].”
Jaimal and Patta were great Rajput warriors who died protecting Chittorgarh in 1567-68 against Mughal forces (दिल्लीश्वरेणार्कवरेण युद्धवा ययौ दिवं जैमलकः पतश्च). GH Ojha noted that Akbar had ordered the erection of two memorials commemorating the memorial of Jaimal and Patta outside the chief gate of Agra fort. These memorials were later taken away to Delhi.
By 1568, Akbar forces had captured two famous forts of Mewar (i.e. Mandalgarh and Chittorgarh) from then Maharana Uday Singh (father of Maharana Pratap). GH Ojha writes that after the fall of Chittorgarh, Maharana Uday Singh used to live in the fort of Kumbhalgarh and used it as a base along with the nearby fort of Gogunda, since Udaipur was still not completely established by that time.
NOTE: Maharana Kumbhakarṇa (r. 1433-1468 CE), popularly known as Maharana Kumbha, had built the great Kumbhalameru Fort / Kumbhalgarh (Rajprashashti Inscription: कुम्भकर्णः अथ भूपः अभूत् दुर्गकुम्भलमेरुकृत्”).
After the death of Maharana Uday Singh in Gogunda (1572), his eldest and most ablest son of Uday Singh i.e. Pratap Singh ascended the throne of Mewar with the support of the Nobles. In 1573, Akbar sent Kunwar Man Singh as an emissary to Udaipur, in order to win over Maharana and to make him accept the suzerainty of Mughals. He was unsuccessful. After Man Singh, Raja Bhagwant Das of Amber and Raja Todarmal were also sent to Udaipur for the same purpose BUT the proud Maharana was well aware of the legacy of his illustrious clan and all these missions were unsuccessful in changing the mind of Maharana. Finally in 1576, the memorable battle between Maharana Pratap & Akbar’s forces was fought at some distance from Haldighati near the village of Khamnaur (Rajprashasti Inscription: “अकब्बरप्रभो पार्श्वे मानसिंहस्ततो गतः गृहीत्वा तद्बलं ग्रामे खंमनौरे समागतः”). Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama also called it as the Battle of Khamnaur.
Akbar chose Kunwar Man Singh as the commander of the Mughal imperial army. Iqbal-Nama gives the understanding that Man Singh was selected as the Commander because his ancestors had earlier owed allegiance to the Maharanas of Mewar and thus, Maharana Pratap would be provoked by Man Singh’s commandant of the army and may come in open conflict. Akbarnama mentions the reason for choosing Man Singh as the Commander: “Kunwar Man Singh who was among the first in the court for wisdom, loyalty and bravery … was nominated for the service.”
Khandan-i-Timuria: True Islamic king is bound to look on jubilantly when his infidel subjects cut each other’s throats, for “whichever side may be slain, Islam is the gainer.”
On 3rd April 1576, Mughal forces left Ajmer and soon reached Mandalgarh (where it stayed for 2 months for additional reinforcements). Around the end of May, Mughals marched towards Gogunda and encamped at Molela, situated at the banks of river Banas. Maharana gathered his armies, marched from Gogunda and encamped at a distance of 3 Kos from Mughal camp (as per Vir Vinod). Maharana’s movements were so secret that Man Singh had no idea that the enemy was so near. Infact, Nainsi-ri-khyat mentions that once Mansingh, when he went on a hunting excursion, was seen by the spies of the Rana. On getting this report, Rana was persuaded by his chiefs for immediate action, But he did not relish such a cowardly act. Finally, The battle was fought at some distance from Haldighati near the village of Khamnaur in June 1576.
Al Badayuni in his work Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh writes that when Mahārāṇā Pratāpa and Hakim Khan Sur charged out at Mughal army in Battle of Haldīghāṭī, the first attack was so fierce that Mughal army started fleeing from battlefield, along with Mughal generals like Qazi Khan & Sheikh-sons of Sikri, and din’t stop till 5-6 kos (कोस) beyond river. Badayuni further comments: “Flight from overwhelming odds is one of the traditions of the Prophet.” Advance body of Mughal army mixed up together and sustained a complete defeat. Raja Ram Shah of Gwalior performed “prodigies of Valor” against Mughal army.
Thus, Mewar forces succeeded in disarraying the front line, advance guards and left & right wings of Mughal army. The Mughal Centre was attacked by Ram Shah Tomar and it was there that he performed “Prodigies of valor.” The Mewar army pushed itself to the Mughal centre and a fierce fight was fought. Maharana on his horse Chetak came within a striking distance of Man Singh, who was seated on Elephant. Maharana flung his spear at Man Singh. Some accounts say that it missed Man Singh and Chetak’s legs were injured by the sword held in the trunk of Man Singh’s elephant. Vir Vinod mentions that assuming Man Singh was killed, Maharana returned from the battlefield.
Al Badayuni, on other hand, states that active operation of Maharana on the battlefield attracted Mughal reserve forces on him which began to pour showers of arrows on him. Thus, Rana retreated to high mountains. BUT interestingly, Al Badayuni also mentions:
“…when the air was like a furnace and no power of movement was left in the soldiers, the idea became prevalent that the Rana, by stealth and stratagem, must have kept himself concealed behind the mountains. This was the reason why they (Mughals) made no pursuit, but retired to their tents and occupied themselves in the relief of the wounded.”
This statement of Badayuni clearly tells us that the Mughals didn’t even dare to pursue the retreating Maharana out of fear that Rana would attack them. Apparently, the immediate condition of Mughal army was pathetic after the battle.
As per primary sources, both sides claim victory. Raj Ratnakar mentions that Man Singh was injured by Maharana”s attack and hence out of fear, the Mughal army fled and Maharana emerged victorious from Battlefield. Jagannatharaya Inscription mentions – “कृत्वा करे खड्गलतां स्ववल्लभां प्रतापसिंहे समुपागते प्रगे सा खंडिता मानवती द्विषच्चमूः संकोचयंती चरणौ पराङ्मुखी” i.e. “When Pratap Singh came to the battlefield in the morning with his beloved sword in hand, the enemy’s army scattered & started running away.” Rana Raso also mentions the victory of Maharana in this battle. Moreover, the leftover Mughal army after battle kept itself dormant in Gogunda, where they weren’t even able to sustain themselves with supplies due to constant fear of Rajputs. Due to this distressed state of Mughal army, Man Singh & other mughal generals were asked to return. On return of Man Singh, Akbar dismissed him temporarily from the court due to mismanagement of the army in the conquest of Mewar. Rana Pratap was issuing grants within a couple of months of Battle of Haldighati, whereas Mughals stationed in Gogunda were harassed with frequent skirmishes and supplies blocked, until they were recalled.
Al Badayuni noted, Akbar’s imperial commanders were so apprehensive about night-attacks by the Maharana and his men, that on taking possession of Gogunda, Mughal soldiers were ordered to barricade streets, dig a trench around Gogunda to serve as a dry moat, and raise crude walls all around, up to a height that Mewari horse riders could not leap over.
Soon, the grand Mughal amirs (nobles) were reduced to killing their horses for meat, the only other food available being mangoes and some wild fruit that grew within Gogunda – and not enough of those either. Upon learning of the distressed state of his army in Kokandah (as Gogunda was spelt in Mughal court records), Emperor Akbar recalled Man Singh, Asaf Jah Khan and Qazi Khan from Gogunda in September 1576. Man Singh and Asaf Khan were temporarily excluded from court.
These accounts prove that the claim of Mughals doesn’t carry sufficient weight. The Rajput sources mentioning the account of their victory cannot be disregarded as such because the Muslim sources themselves claim the pathetic condition of Mughal army. By analysing the facts we may say that no party succeeded in achieving “complete victory” and Mansingh’s campaign failed in its primary objective. Thus the result of this battle conclusively to be called DRAWN.
Popular misconception is that Maharana after the battle lost everything and led a miserable life. BUT this is absolutely untrue. AL Shrivastava comments: “He (Maharana Pratap) returned to Kumbhalgarh and began to take active interest in consolidating the parts which had suffered ruin in the central part of Mewar. Two copper-plate inscriptions dated the 5th of the bright-half of Bhadrapad, V. S. 1633, (just three months after the battle of Haldi-Ghati) which he issued from Kumbhalgarh granting the villages of Pipli and Sathana in Central Mewar to Balbhadra, establish the fact that he was reviving his authority over the parts which have fallen prey to the aggrandising activity of the enemy and was creating a body of his supporters in that area to check the Mughal influence.”
It is said that in a hill cave of Rohania village, Maharana Pratap met Rupanath, a Nath Yogi. Rūpanath gave him blessings (आशीर्वाद) of victory for the Battle of Dewair. Pratap obtained a decisive victory against Mughals when he attacked towards Dewair.
Regarding the Battle of Dewair, Rima Hooja comments: “In 1582, around the time of the festivities associated with Dussehra, Pratap attacked the imperial Mughal garrison commanded by Sultan Khan near the village of Dewair, 40 km north-east of Kumbhalgarh. Reinforcements from nearby Mughal outposts arrived, and there was a fierce and decisive battle, in which the elephant-borne Sultan Khan mounted a horse after his elephant was struck down dead. Pratap’s son, Prince Amar Singh, then charged Sultan Khan and struck him such a fierce blow that Sultan Khan’s helmet and armour shattered, and the Mughal commander and his horse fell dead. The demoralized Mughal soldiers fled the field in disarray, leaving Pratap the undisputed victor in the battle of Dewair. After his victory at Dewair, Maharana Pratap immediately headed towards Kumbhalgarh. He and his forces overran thirty-six Mughal outposts in a single day, and the tracts stretching from Dewair to Kumbhalgarh were cleared of Mughal occupation. Having retaken Kumbhalgarh, the Maharana proceeded towards Zawar, capturing all the Mughal garrison outposts that lay en route, among them Amet, Madariya and Zawar… Between 1585 and his death thirteen years later, in January 1597, the Maharana had succeeded in recovering a substantive part of Mewar…”