Friday, March 30, 2012

A song to the Rana, by Prithviraj Rathor

Maharana Pratap, 
oil painting 
by Raja Ravi Varman
Maharana Pratap having renounced all worldly comforts, lived with just one single objective; freeing his capital Chittor from Mughal occupation. Till such time he vowed to live in a forest, eat bread made from grass and sleep on the ground. He vowed, he will eat proper bread and sleep on a bed only when he frees his lands. All his soldiers and ministers followed suite, but the plight of his children over prolonged periods of time shook the great Rana to his roots. His children wore rags and barely had enough to eat. They had to sleep on trees tied to a branch or in a basket hung from trees because of fear of wild beasts. Not able to bear the sufferings of his children the Rana wrote to Akbar seeking terms.  Akbar was over joyed with this news, seeing an end to a struggle which had put a great strain on his treasury and army not to speak of the rift the Rana's position was creating among the Rajputs and the Mughals which he had artificially bridged through opportunistic alliances. He showed the letter to his counsellors which included Prithviraj Rathore of Bikaner, a first cousin to the Rana's from his mothers side. Prithviraj was surprised and saddened and sought Akbars permission to write back and confirm the Rana's intentions, he said "he knew the Rana well and it was not in him to give up, this letter maybe a forgery". Akbar gave permission. Below is the letter written by Prithviraj Rathore to Maharana Pratap, translated from Mewari.   

The hopes of the Hindu rest on the Hindu; yet the Rana forsakes them but for Patta* all would be placed on the same level by Jalaluddin.

For our chiefs have lost their valour and our females their honour. Akbar is the broker in the market of our race: all has he purchased but the son of Uda*; He is beyond his price. 

What true Rajput would part with honour for nine days (Nauroza)^.

Yet how many have bartered its away? Will Chittor come to this market, when all have disposed of the chief of the Ivhatri***? 

Though Patta has squandered away wealth, yet this treasure he has preserved Despair has driven man to this mart, to witness their dishonor. 

From such infamy the descendant of Hamir § alone has been preserved. 

The world asks whence the concealed aid of the Pratap? None but the soul of manliness and his sword: with it well has he maintained Kshatriya pride. 

This broker (Akbar) in the market of men will one day be overreached; he cannot live forever. 

Then will our race come to Pratap, for the seed of the Rajput to sow in our desolate lands. 

To him all look for its preservation that its purity may again become resplendent” 

*Patta is a nick name of the Great Rana, used by relatives and friends.
**Uda is Raja Udai Singh, the Rana's father
*** Ivhatri refers to the desert
^ A nine day period of great debauchery. This was Akbar's idea borrowed from his ancestor Genghis Khan
§ Rana Hamir is a great ancestor of the Rana, the founder of the Sisodia line

'This effusion of his cousin Rathor was equal to ten thousand men, it nerved the drooping mind of the great Rana. It was a noble incentive to find every eye of his race fixed upon him' says Col. James Tod, an admirer of the Rajputs. 
The Rana once again rejuvenated by this support realised he was not alone in this struggle, mounted a series of brutal campaigns against the Mughals and in short span of 2 years recovered all of Mewar from the Mughals barring Chittor. Till his dying day (29th January 1597) the Rana slept on the floor and continued living in a hut, his dream of ruling from Chittor unfulfilled.

What is interesting to note here is the contemporary view held by the Rajputs of Jalaluddin Akbar who call him a mere 'dalal' a broker, speaks volume of the emperors perception by Rajput nobles. Akbar is also considered lower in stature by the Rajputs primarily owing to the fact that he never fought a battle in person or led his army from the front. Most of his victories were won by few trusted generals like Bairam Khan, Man Singh of Amber and Bhagwan Das, last two were Rajputs.

Akbar mostly made alliances via marriage or otherwise and the both sides were happy not be involved in a war which is always a costly affair and a final resort. For this propensity to deal making the Rajputs call him a dalal and not a king.

Thus the above view is contrary to the hyperbole and words of praise used by modern historians, who even go the extent of calling Jalaluddin the greatest monarch India has ever seen, which I find mildly amusing. How ignorant or purposefully misleading is their approach to Indian history.

PS: People interested in real Indian history prior to British entry into the scene should read British records or even records of contemporary Muslim historians which are more reliable than pseudo secular version dished out by our modern Indian historians. 

1 comment:

  1. Bringing the post Gupta fragmented India under centralized rule again was not an evil design.
    But there were inherent conflicts. Akbar and Mughals were considered outsiders. Before the very last years of his life even Akbar didn't make any efforts to that regard, so we can conveniently forget about his bigoted bretheren.
    Before those lasy years, he was any other ruthless invader like the ones before, just with a bit more intelligence, vision and perseverence. I for one can never forgive him for the massacre of 30,000 civilians in the already fallen Chittor fort. War and its savage nature is not unknown but to kill 30,000 civilians after you have already achieved victory?
    Contrast it to what Huen Tsang wrote in 6th A.D. about Indian warfare where the armies would battle it out in open and the farmers near by would be ploughing their fields. There was hardly any ruthless collateral damage.
    War is another reflection of a society.