Bishwa Nath Singh:
Can we recollect the version of Col. Tod, the famous British antiquarian who had bestowed title of Leonidas of Rajasthan on Maharana Pratap?. As per Tod, there is not a pass in the Alpine Aravalli that is not sanctified by some deed of Maharana Pratap – some brilliant victory, or oftener, more glorious defeat. Maharana Pratap was the ...only Rajput who never surrendered to the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Maharana Pratap succeeded to the titles and renown of an illustrious house, without capital and without resources. Yet possessed by the noble spirit of his race, he thought day and night of the recovery of Chitor, and of restoring the honor of his house. Living up to traditional Rajput pride, Maharana Pratap had once refused to eat with Raja Man Singh of Amber because Man Singh had given his sister in marriage to Prince Salim. Let us have glimpse of the life of that great patriot of our motherland Maharan Pratap who was the son of Maharana Udai Singh being the only Rajput ruler who’s Birth Anniversary is celebrated throughout the country for his courage and patriotism with gaiety and fervor!
(Photo of Maharana Pratap)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Maharana Pratap was born on May 9, 1540 in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan. at Juni Kacheri of Pali city whereas some historians believe that he was born at Kumbhalgarh now in Rajsamand District of Rajasthan State of India..His childhood name was ...Pratap Bhattarai who was the eldest of four brothers and two sisters, His father was Maharana Udai Singh II and his mother was Rani Jeevant Kanwar. Maharana Udai Singh II ruled the kingdom of Mewar, with his capital at Chittor. Maharana Pratap was the eldest son and hence was honored with the title of Crown Prince. He was destined to be the fifty fourth ruler of Mewar, in the line of the Sisodiya Rajputs..In 1567, when Crown Prince Pratap Singh was only twentyseven years old, Chittor was surrounded by the Mughal forces of Emperor Akbar. Maharana Udai Singh II decided to leave Chittor and move his family to Gogunda, rather than capitulate to the Mughals. The young Pratap Singh wanted to stay back and fight the Mughals but the elders intervened and convinced him to leave Chittor, oblivious of the fact that this move from Chittor was going to create history for all times to come. In Gogunda, Maharana Udai Singh II and his nobles set up a temporary government of the kindom of Mewar. In 1572, the Maharana passed away, leaving the way for Crown Prince Pratap Singh to become the Maharana. However, in his later years, the late Maharana Udai Singh II had fallen under the influence of his favorite queen, Rani Bhatiyani, and had willed that her son Jagmal should ascend to the throne. As the late Maharana's body was being taken to the cremation grounds, Pratap Singh, the Crown Prince decided to accompany the dead body of the Maharana. This was a departure from tradition as the Crown Prince did not accompany the body of the departed Maharana but instead prepared to ascend the throne, such that the line of succession remained unbroken. Pratap Singh, in deference to his father's wishes, decided to let his half-brother Jagmal become the next king. However, knowing this to be disastrous for Mewar, the late Maharana's nobels, especially the Chundawat Rajputs, forced Jagmal to leave the throne to Pratap Singh. Unlike Bharat, Jagmal did not willingly give up the throne. He swore revenge and left for Ajmer, to join the armies of Akbar, where he was offered a jagir - the town of Jahazpur - in return for his help. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Pratap Singh became Maharana Pratap Singh I, 54th ruler of Mewar - founded in 568 AD by Guhil - in the line of the Sisodiya Rajputs. The year was 1572. Pratap Singh had just become the Maharana of Mewar and he had not been back in Chittor since 1567. His old fort and his home beckoned to him. The pain of his father's death, and the fact that his father had not been able to see Chittor again, troubled the young Maharana deeply. But he was not the only one troubled at this time. Akbar had control of Chittor but not the kingdom of Mewar. So long as the people of Mewar swore by their Maharana, Akbar could not realize his ambition of being the Jahanpanah of Hindustan. He had sent several emissaries to Mewar to get Maharana Pratap to agree to sign a treaty but the latter was only willing to sign a peace treaty whereby the sovereignty of Mewar would be intact. In the course of the year 1573, Akbar sent six diplomatic missions to Mewar to get Maharana Pratap to agree to the former's suzerainty but Maharana Pratap turned down each one of them. The last of these missions was headed by Raja Man Singh, the brother-in-law of Akbar himself. He persuaded all Rajputs, who refused to sup with Raja Man Singh. With the failure of efforts to negotiate a peace treaty in 1573, Akbar blockaded Mewar from the rest of the world and alienated Mewar's traditional allies, some of whom were Maharana Pratap's own kith and kin. The emperor Akbar was much offended at the insult offered to him, and the incident hastened the first of those bloody battles which have made Pratap's name immortal. Prince Salim led the war guided by Man Singh, Mahabat Khan and son of Sagarji, brother of Pratap. The scene of battle was a mountain pass, named Haldighati. Pratap with the flower of Mewar, defended the pass; and the struggle was glorious. At length when he was nearly overwhelmed, Manah, the chief of Jhala, seized the umbrella and raising it over his head, drew after him the attack of the enemy, while Pratap was forced from the field. The noble of Jhala fell with all his brave followers. Of Pratap's twenty two thousand warriors, only eight thousand left the field. Pratap was defeated and driven towards Gogunda. Unfortunately, Pratap’s favourite charger Chetak died in the battle, but not before saving the life of his master. The horse is supposed to have jumped over a mountain stream when pursued by two Mughal chiefs. Chetak died soon after he had seen his master to safety. Rana escaped to the jungles of Chavand, living with the Bhils and sometimes going without food. Left without an army, Pratap took to guerilla warfare, hitting the Imperial army and withdrawing into the forests. Years thus rolled away, each ending with a diminution of his means and a comparative increase of his misfortunes. His family was the chief cause of his anxiety; it was on the point of being captive many a time. He had beheld his sons and relatives fall around him on the battle-field without any emotion -"for this was the Rajput born", but the lamentation of his children for food unmanned him, and he asked Akbar to alleviate their miseries. Akbar showed Pratap's letter to Prithvi Raj, a brother of prince of Bikaner. This prince adored the very name of Pratap; and this news filled him with grief. He told the emperor frankly that the letter was a forgery of some foe to the fame of Pratap. He made a strong appeal to Pratap not to submit. Prithvi Raj saved Pratap and Mewar from disgrace; for this appeal was equal to 10,000 men, and it roused Pratap into action. The honour of saving Mewar also belongs to Bhama Shah, the minister of Pratap. He offered to the Rana the accumulated wealth of himself and his ancestors, quite sufficient for the maintenance of 25,000 men for twelve years. Thus the name of Bhama Shah has been preserved as the saviour of Mewar. This went on for 25 long years, and eventually the Rana was able to conquer most of Mewar. On his deathbed Pratap took an oath from his chiefs "by the name of Bappa Rawal" that they would not permit mansions to be raised till Mewar had recovered her independence. He made his successors vow that they would not live in palaces, sleep on beds nor eat off metal utensils until Chittor was recaptured. Maharana Pratap died on January 19, 1597 with the unfulfilled dream of conquering Chittor, but not until his courtiers assured him that they would not submit to the MughalsLet us join to pay
our humble obeisance’s to that great patriot who is widely adored over billions of people for his heroic act!