RANA PRATAP AND THE HOUSE OF MEWAR PART-VII

Raj Singh’s romantic feat

After the occupation of Jodhpur by the Mughals, Aurangzeb demanded the hand of the princess of Kishengarh, a feudatory of the Marwar house. The young lady was famed for her beauty and accomplishment throughout Rajputana. Along with the demand, compliance with which was regarded as certain, a cortege of 2000 horse to escort the fair lady to court. The Rajputani rejected with disdain the proffered alliance, and entrusted her cause to the arm of the chief of the Rajput race, offering herself as the reward for protection. The family priest, her preceptor, deemed his office honoured by being chosen the messenger of her wishes, and the letter he carried is incorporated in the annals of Mewar. “Is the Swan to be the mate of the stork? A Rajputani, pure in blood to be the wife to the monkey faced barbarian?” So wrote the princess, concluding with a threat of self-destruction if not saved from dishonour. The Rana with a chosen band rapidly appeared before Kishengarh, cut up the imperial guards, and bore off the prize to his capital.

Raj Singh correctly realized that Aurangzeb’s real intention was to blot out the Rajput states from existence took up the cause of Ajit Singh of Marwar and prepared to offer a tough resistance to the Mughals. But Aurangzeb forestalled the Maharana’a designs and sent 7,000 chosen troops under Hasan Ali Khan to invade Mewar. The Maharana thereupon retired to the hills, abandoning his capital at Udaipur. Hasan Ali Khan occupied Chittor and Udaipur and demolished the temples there. He pursued Raj Singh and defeated him on 1st February, 1680. Aurangzeb now returned to Ajmer leaving prince Akbar in charge of Chittor. Raj Singh then raided the Mughal outposts and cut off their supplies and later defeated Akbar at Bednor. Aurangzeb then planned another invasion of Mewar and sent three armies from three different directions under his sons Muazzam, Azam and Akbar. The first two generals failed to force their entry into the heart of Mewar while Akbar after failing in his attempt to drive Raj Singh, realized the futility of his father’s reactionary policy and entered into negotiations with the Rajputs on January 11, 1680. He rebelled against his father and with the assistance of the Rathors and Sisodias proclaimed himself emperor of India. It was agreed that the Sisodias and Rathors would place their forces at the disposal of the prince who would celebrate his accession and proceed against his father. But Raj Singh’s death on November 1st, 1680 and the accession of his son Jai Singh delayed the project of an attack on Aurangzeb. Later during the reign of Maharana Jai Singh, the proposed project to attack Aurangzeb failed due to the fraud played by the emperor and Akbar had to sought refuge in the court of Shambhuji, son of Shivaji. Aurangzeb now decided to patch up a peace with Jai Singh in order to proceed to the Deccan to put down Akbar’s pretensions to the sovereignty of India, before the latter could secure the assistance of the Maratha king and endanger the peace of the empire. Maharana Jai Singh whose dominion was threatened by the imperial force was equally anxious to settle matters with the emperor. Accordingly a treaty was concluded between the two on 24th June 1681. The Rana ceded the paraganas of Madal, Pur and Bednor in lieu of the jaziya imposed on him. The emperor appointed the Maharana to the mansab of 5000 and confirmed him in his territory with the title “Rana”.

Rana Amar Singh II

It was during the reign of Rana Amar Singh II, who ruled from 1700 to 1716 that the ruler of Marwar, Ajit Singh and the prince of Amber formed a triple league with Mewar against the Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah. This treaty of unity of interests against the common foe was confirmed by nuptial alliances, which had not taken place since the days of Pratap. In fact, to be readmitted to this honour with the Sisodias was one of the main considerations, which led the princes of Marwar and Amber to join the league. These princes held a prolonged conference on the border of the Puskar lake and after full deliberation proclaimed a solemn concerted policy- that they would not thenceforth give their daughters in marriage to Muslims and if any prince acted contrary to this resolution, the others should join and put down the deserter by force if necessary. The declaration went further. The Ranas of Udaipur were acknowledged to be of purer blood having all along refused to give their daughters in marriage to Muslims; so the Puskar conference laid down that if any Rajput prince had any issue from a daughter of the Udaipur family, that issue should be given preference over those born from other wives in choosing the successor to the vacant throne. This in the long run led to wars of succession and the umpire who was called upon to settle the disputes, which ensued there from, proved more baneful than the power from whose grasp they were endeavouring to free themselves. The treaty laid prostrate the throne of Babur, but it ultimately introduced the Marathas as partisans in the family disputes, who, in all such cases, made the bone on contention their own.

Mewar under British protectorate

Accession of weak rulers and the invitation given to the Marathas to arbitrate in their internal strife led to the weakening of the house of the Sisodias. The Marathas not only alienated fertile revenue yielding territory of the state but also levied war contributions that exhausted Mewar financially. After the defeat of the Marathas in the third Anglo-Maratha war, Mewar along with other states in Rajasthan passed under the protecting arm of Great Britain. In January 1818, Rana Bhim Singh entered into a treaty with the East India Company represented by Charles Theophilus Metcalf by which Udaipur agreed to pay one-fourth of the revenue of the state annually to the British government as tribute for five years; and after that term three-eights in perpetuity.

It is a pity that the so called votaries of Shivaji’s legacy and idealism were responsible for the decline of the fortunes of the family of Rana Pratap, who in fact was the source of inspiration for Shivaji in his fight against the Mughals. But more regrettable is the fact that today, while history curriculum in various Indian Universities, discuss and even eulogies the role of barbaric invaders of medieval times, the part played by the family of Sisodias in defending the national honour has been belittled and neglected.(Concluded)

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