Maharana Pratap

9 May 1540
29 Jan 1597
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Pratap Singh (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) or Pratap Singh (9 May 1540 – 29 January 1597) was the ruler of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present day state of Rajasthan. His birth anniversary (Maharana Pratap Jayanti) is celebrated as a full-fledged festival every year on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla phase. He was the eldest son of Maharani Jaiwanta Bai and Udai Singh II, founder of Udaipur.He belonged to the Sisodia clan of Rajputs.Maharana Pratap Singh is widely regarded as a fearless warrior and ingenious strategist, who successfully fought the Mughals and safeguarded his people until his death. In popular Indian culture, he is hailed as an inspirational figure for exemplifying gallantry and resourcefulness. He was succeeded by his eldest son Amar Singh I.

In 1568 during the reign of Rana Udai Singh II (Maharana Pratap’s father) Chittorgarh Fort was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar after the third Jauhar at Chittor.However, Udai Singh and the royal family of Mewar had left before the fort was captured and moved to the foothills of the Aravalli Range where Udai Singh had already founded the city of Udaipur in 1559.Rani Dheer Bai wanted her son Jagmal to succeed Udai Singh but the seniors in the royal court preferred Pratap, as the eldest son, to be their king. The desire of the nobles prevailed.At the end it was found out that it was only due to Rani Bhatiyani Dheerbhai, that Udai Singh nominated Jagmal Singh as his successor who was weak, inefficient and a drunktard. Kunwar Pratap had always been his favourite and most loved son.

Nearly all of Pratap’s fellow Rajput chiefs had meanwhile entered into the vassalage of the Mughals. Even Pratap’s own brothers, Shakti Singh, Jagmal and Sagar Singh, served the Mughal emperor, Akbar.Indeed, many Rajput chiefs, such as Man Singh I of Amer (later known as Maharaja of Jaipur) served as army commanders in Akbar’s armies and as members of his council. Akbar sent a total of six diplomatic missions to Pratap, seeking to negotiate the same sort of peaceful alliance that he had concluded with the other Rajput chiefs. The first three missions were led by Jalal Khan Qurchi, the fourth by Raja Man Singh, the fifth by Raja Bhagwan Das, and the sixth by Todar Mal. The fifth mission of Bhagwan Das was fruitful in that the Rana agreed to put on a robe presented by Akbar and he sent his son Amar Singh I to the mughal capital.The missions failed, however, since the Rana refused to personally present himself in the mughal court. Since no agreement could be reached at, all out war between Mewar and the Mughals became inevitable.

In 1576, Akbar deputed Man Singh I and Asaf Khan I to lead a force of 60,000 soldiers against Rana Pratapsinghji. The Rana advanced with a force of 20000 soldiers and took a position near Haldighati which was at the entrance of a defile.In Pratap’s army the main commanders were Gwalior’s Ramji Das and his son, Acharya Raghavendra, Kishandasji Chundawat, Maan Singhji Jhalla and Chandrasenji Rathore of Marwar. His army also included Afghans lead by Hakim Khan Sur and a small contingent of Bhil tribals headed by Rao Poonjaji fighting alongside him.The Mughals cheated the Maharana by sending assassins to kill his family before the war but Pratap was saved by his wife Ajabde who sacrificed her own life for the sake of her husband. Pratap took an oath to take revenge by slaughtering the Mughals at Haldighati. Anticipating the mughal attack, the Rana had also devastated the entire region up to Chittor to prevent the mughal forces access to food and fodThe Mughals heavily outnumbering the Rajputs, were stuck in the hilly region and the Bhil jungles. The bhils made the ultimate sacrifice by reducing the Mughal numbers by almost 20000 soldiers but were ultimately defeated. Man Singh’s strategy helped the Mughals to sneak out of the Aravallis and reach Haldighati.
The Battle of Haldighati was fought on 18 June 1576 for around 12 hours. It was primarily fought in the traditional manner between cavalry and elephants since the mughals found it difficult to transport artillery over the rough terrain. In a traditional fight the Rajputs were at an advantage; their impetuous attack led to a crumbling of the mughal left and right wings and put pressure on the center until reserves, and a rumor of Shakti Singh’s arrival with a force of 100000 turned the tide, and resulted in a Rajput retreat. The heat, and fear of ambush in the hills, resulted in the mughals deciding not to pursue the Rajputs into the hills. Thus this battle failed to break the existing stalemate. This fight can be viewed as an assertion of local independence arising from local and regional patriotism.Maharana Pratap and his forces though outnumber in the ratio of 2:1 crushed the Mughal army. Man Singh couldn’t believe what he saw as the Mewaris fought with valour. Pratapsinghji mounted on his horse Chetak attacked him with a spear which killed his Mahawat. But Chetak’s leg got deeply wounded due to an attack by Man Singh’s war elephant. Man Singh fell down and sustained an injury on his forehead. He then devised a plan and told Multan Khan one of his generals to spread a rumour that Shakti Singh who was actually coming to the battlefield with a force of 10000, arrived with a force of 100000. Also news came that Jagmal stormed Udaipur. The Mewari enthusiasm was shattered and the soldiers fled. When Acharya Raghavendra came to know about the numbers and that Jagmal stormed Udaipur, he, Chundawatji and Rana Poonjaji with 300 trusted soldiers retreated backwards for the safety of the royal family. Pratap was ambushed at the back by Qazi Khan and he was severely injured. Man Singhji Jhala understood the situation and he told the Rana to escape. The Rana denied but due to pressure from Jhalaji and Acharya Raghavendra, he escaped. Chetak ran very fast and after crossing a minor river with a jump, he succumbed to his injuries. Maharana Pratapsinghji is said to have been saddened the most at the demise of his favourite war horse. But the Rana was chased by Multan Khan and Qazi Khan. Meanwhile, the fresh Mughal recruitments decisively crushed the remaining few Mewaris. Man Singh Jhala who wore Pratap’s royal chhavri was stabbed by Mughal soldiers under Man Singh’s command. They thought they managed to kill Pratap but they couldn’t really. The battle was over. The arrival of fresh Mughals under Shakti Singh turned the tables on the Rajputs who had almost won. However no side was able to be called the victor as the number of Mughal soldiers left were less than 10000. Shakti Singh got to know about Multan and Qazi Khan chasing Pratap. He had different intentions though. He went to save his brother by attacking Multan and Qazi Khan and killing both of them. He met Pratap and told him he was still a proud Mewari and was waiting for an opportunity to strike at the Mughals. He told Pratap that as long as he lives, the hope for a free Mewar lives. And he gave Pratapsinghji his own horse and told him to leave immediately. Amar Singh I and the royal family was safely escorted to the Aravallis by Chundawatji and Acharya Raghavendra. Man Singh was shocked to see that it was not Pratapsinghji but his chieftain Man Singh Jhala who was killed. In the next three days he overran the other parts of Mewar and the whole of Mewar except some of the Aravallis were in Mughal hands.

On the third day after the Battle of Haldighati, i.e. on 23 June 1576, Man Singh I conquered Gogundawhich was later recaptured by Pratap in July 1576.Pratap then made Kumbhalgarh his temporary capital.After that, Akbar decided to personally lead the campaign against Pratap. In the process, Gogunda, Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh were occupied by the mughals, forcing the Rana deeper into the mountainous tracts of southern Mewar.Mughal pressure was exerted on the Afghan chief of Jalor, and the Rajput chiefs of Idar, Sirohi, Banswara, Dungarpur, and Bundi. These states, situated on the borders of Mewar with Gujarat and Malwa had traditionally acknowledged the supremacy of the dominant power in the region. Consequently, the rulers of these states submitted to the Mughals. A mughal expedition was also sent to Bundi where Duda, the elder son of Rao Surjan Hada, had collaborated with Rana Pratap to take control over Bundi and adjacent areas. Both Surjan Hada and Bhoj, the father and younger brother of Duda, took part in this conflict in support of the mughals. After a mughal victory, Duda escaped to the hills and Bundi was conferred upon Bhoj. At this point Rana Pratap found himself isolated and marginalized in Rajput affairs.

Mughal pressure on Mewar relaxed after 1579 following rebellions in Bengal and Bihar and Mirza Hakim’s incursion into the Punjab. In 1585, Akbar moved to Lahore and remained there for the next twelve years watching the situation in the north-west. No mughal expedition was sent to Mewar during this period. Taking advantage of the situation, Rana Pratap recovered many of his lost territories including Kumbhalgarh and the areas around Chittor (but not Chittor itself). During this period, he also built a new capital–Chavand, near modern Dungarpur.His successful defiance of Mughals using guerrilla strategy also proved inspiration to figures ranging from Shivaji to anti-British revolutionaries in Bengal. Maharana got a lot of money from Bhamashah who was given the title of DanShiromani Bhamashah. He used that money to rebuild his army. He conquered Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore and atlast Udaipur from Jagmal. He built up a force of 40000 soldiers and he consolidated his position.

Maharana Pratap had a cabinet of able ministers / advisors and commanders including Bhamashah (treasurer) and Rao Poonja.

Maharana Pratap’s first and favourite wife was Maharani Ajabde Punwar. She supported him through everything. They both loved each other unconditionally. Sadly, she died in her thirties. He only loved Maharani Ajabde, the other marriages were political alliances. Maharana Pratap had 11 wives. He had 17 sons and five daughters. Of his children, Amar Singh, who was born to Maharani Ajabde, was the eldest and who later succeeded him .The list of Queens and Sons is as follows:

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