Posts tagged ‘rAjapUta’

January 20, 2011

Maharana’s puNya divasa

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

In 1597, on January 19, died mahArANA pratApa siMha, the foremost luminary in the galaxy of all Hindu leaders that raised the standard of tumult to answer the jehAd.  But before he died he fulfilled the mission of his life of regaining control over his mAtR^ibhUmi, and even at his deathbed he made his heir and his band of men swear by Lord Ekalinga to continue fighting the battle for Hindu independence.

Never did that dharmAbhimAnI compromise on Hindu liberty and never did he submit even to the lucrative offers of moghal tyrant.  His insignia read “जो दृढ राखै धरम कौ ताहि रखै कर्तार”: Those Who Stiffly Protect Dhrama find Protection of The Creator. It is by his grit and that of his followers that the sapling of Hindu revival was kept nourished, which would in next century become the mighty vaTa. Thus while negotiating treaty at Purandar with Jai Singh, cHatrapati recalled mahArANA and his hardships.

But for that vIra-pu~Ngava, all was lost beyond hope, as says surAyajI, a contemporary rAjasthAnI poet:

हिन्दू हिन्दूकार, राणा जे राखत नहीं
तो अकबर एकार, पहो सहो करत परतापसी
हिन्दूपति परताप, पत राखी हिन्दवाणरी
सहे विपति संताप, सत्य सपथ कर आपणी

[Had rANA not kept the Hindu flag independent,
Akbar had all but succeeded in crushing them to joining/becoming Moslems
But O Hindupati Pratap, You kept the Hindu pride undiminished
Even bearing hardships and pains, never did you waver from your grit]

Even a rAjpUt courtier of Akbar, ADhA dUrasA of sirohI, wrote in his “viruddha cHihattarI”:

एही भुजे अरीति । तसलीमत हिन्दू तुरक
माथै निकर मसीत परताप कै परसादसी
रोहै पाताल राण । जाँ तसलीम न आदरै
हिन्दू मुस्सलमाण एक नहीं ता दोय हैं

[When such is the usage of the day that Hindus have to bow low and perform Tasleem to Musalmans,
It is only in your country, O Pratap, that the temples are seen reconstructed where mosques were squatting
Only if, O Pratap, you hold the Hindu Banner high and don’t acknowledge (Akbar’s) suzerainty
Hindus will retain their independence and identity and not get merged with Musalmans]

रोकै अकबर राह । लै हिन्दू कूकुर लखां
बीअर तो बाराह पाडै घणा परताप सी
सुख हित स्याल समाज, हिन्दू अकबर बस हुए
रोसीलो मृगराज पजै न राण परताप सी

[Akbar obstacles the path of pratApa with help from a lakh Dog-Hindus (those who have gone to Akbars side)
But when did they stop the Boar-like march of pratApa! A single vArAha-Hindu is enough.
For sake of comfort some coward jackal-Hindus have taken Akbar as overlord
But when did Lion-Hindus like pratApa ever accept his suzerainty!]

लोपै हिन्दू लाज सगपण रोपै तुरकसूँ
आरज कुल री आज पूंजी राण प्रतापसी

[When Hindu honour has disappeared; they shamelessly give their daughters to musalmans;
O Pratap rANA, today You are the only refuge left for the Aryakula honour]

pratApa siMha, the standard forever of Hindu bravery, had no hesitation to denounce the cowardly deeds of his father and used to openly lament that had udaya not been born between his grandfather Sangram Singh the ‘Hindupat’, and himself, the Moslem rule in hindusthAn would have been wiped out in the time of bAbur himself.  (This is not a mere boast)

सांगो धरम सहाय बाबुर सूं भिडियो बिहस
अकबर कदमा आय पडै न राण प्रताप सी
मन अकबर मजबूत! फूट हिन्दवाँ बेफिकर
काफिर कौम कपूत! पकडूँ राण प्रताप सी

[If for the protection of dharma had rANA sAMgA gone to clash with bAbUr
It is for the same reason that pratApa does not give in to Akbar
Akbar’s mind is carefree and strong seeing the prevailing disunity among the Hindus
But even he knows that amongst Kafirs these are the black sheep; So he goes after Pratap]

Once a rumour was spread in Agra that mahArANA was willing to accept Akbar’s overlordship and had sent such communication to Patsah. Alarmed about this, a rAjpUt prince of bIkAner, Rai Prithviraj who was at Akbar’s court, wrote to pratApa seeking the truth of the matter. He wrote:

पातल जो पातसाह बोलै मुख हूता बयण
मिहर पच्छम दिस माह उगै कासप राववत
पटकूँ मुच्छाँ पाण कै पटकूँ निज तन करद
लीजै लिख दीवान इण दो महली बात इक

[I have been told that pratApa has started calling Akbar his Patsah,
which to me seems as impossible as the Sun rising from the west
But tell me O Regent (of EkaliMga) where I stand –
Shall I proudly put my fingers on my moustaches or sword on my neck?
Just write back which of the two is for me?]

To which pratApa siMha wrote back the below lines which are proudly memorised by every true Rajput:

तुरक कहासी मुख पतो इण तन सौं इकलिंग
ऊगै जाहीं ऊगसी प्राची बीच पतङ
खुसी हूँत पीतल कमध पटको मूच्छा पाण
पछटन है जेतै पटौ कलमा सिर केवाण
सांगा मूड सहै सको समजस जहर सवाद
झड पीतल जीतो झलाँ वैण तरकसूँ वाद

[By Lord Ekalinga, I shall call Akbar Turak alone (and not Patsah),
as surely as the Sun would rise tomorrow from the East.
You may, O Prithviraj, continue proudly stroking your moustaches
As pratApa’s sword continues to dangle on the Mughal heads, and,
Let the Sanga’s blood be on my hands if I ever rest before crushing them
You would, Prithvi, no doubt, have the better of this quarrel of rumours at the court.]

When the news of pratApa’s death reached Akbars court, it is said that Akbar mourned for his death (so say also the persian sources). At this, a rAjasthAnI poet at Akbar’s court expressed his homage to pratApa like this:

अस लैगो अनदाग पाघ लैगो अणनामी
गौ आडा अवडाय जिको बहतो धुर बामी
नवरोजे नह गयो न गो आतसाँ नवल्ली
न गओ झरोखा हेठ दुनियाण दहल्ली
गहलोता राणा जीती गयो दसन मून्द रसना डसी
निसास मूक भरिया नयन मृतु शाह प्रतापसी !

[Kept his horses unbranded (of mughal seal), Head unbowed and fame untarnished
Carried on his fight against vidharmI yoke merely by his singular fortitude
Never went to Navroz and Atish festivals of Patsah nor mounted guard at his jharokha darshan
O rANA the guhilota! The victory be yours. Even in death you make Patsah speechless and blind
Breathless, Patsah’s tongue is stuck in throat and blinded, as his eyes are moistened from sadness]

June 7, 2010

Ramblings about the sword of bhavAnI

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

The legend of bhavAnI having blessed the cHatrapati founder of hindU svarAjya with her own khaDga for smiting the turuShka-s, is all too famous.  So we have the bhAkars mentioning about the miraculous sword, and we have contemporary bhUShaNa telling us about it.   But the fame of the khaDga was known far and wide, and it seems used to even awe the hearts of his enemies.

Thus we have the contemporary Italian  mercenary and freebooter Manuzzi telling us about his having once witnessed the abhimantrita maharaTTA sword.  In his Storia do Mogor he records that on one occasion he led a diplomatic mission on behalf of awrangzib and his portuguese allies to negotiate the terms of truce with shambhAjI and  the rebellious son of awrangzib who was in shambhAjI’s safe custody.  (shambhAjI introduced to Manuzzi durgAdAsa the famous rAThora general in disguise as prince Akbar.)  During the visit he once requested shambhAjI whether the latter could show him but once the famous divine sword that his father had, and shambhAjI would let him see from far just one flash of it.

The hindu revival in the founding of the maharaTTA empire had for its foundation its predecessor, the great vijayanagara.  the footprint of vijayanagara are visible in the resurgent maharaTTA-s in many ways: the legend pf jagadambA appearing before the valiant warrior-king and offering him her own khaDga to destroy the enemy being also one.  Thus we read the princess-poetess ga~NgAdevI describing in fourteenth century how the Goddess from madurai appeared to her husband yuvarAja kampanarAya, son of the founder of the empire bukkArAya, and gave him her sword to go out and thrash away the sultanate of the islamite tyrants from the draviDa lands.  The princess describes at length in madhurAvijaya the glory of this sword and how it originally belonged to mahAdeva, was given by sage agastya to various kings, and finally is being trusted by bhavAnI to the worthy arms of the vijayanagara.

It is of course very frequent throughout the hindU itihAsa-s and purANa-s for worthy warriors to acquire divine shastra-s from the deva-s.  Thus in padma purANa we have rAma getting the dhanuSha from mahAdeva, and rAvaNa had received before His sword.  mahAbhArata is of course full of description of such arms which can fill reams. 

But this had continued down to the later historical times, even before vijayanagara, that we read about bhavAnI’s or mahAdeva’s sword.  Thus we read in the histories of nAthayogI-s that the famous nAtha siddha delivered the divine sword of bhavAnI and mahAdeva to a rAjapUta named kAlabhoja who founded the house of mevADa.

Later in the eighteenth century, we similarly hear of the famed bhavAnI sword having been acquired by blessed pR^ithvI nArAyaNa shaAha who went on to found the now abolished hindU svArAjya in nepAla country.  We have had multiple occasions to be at this shaktipItha on the borders of nepAla, where young pR^ithvI nArAyaNa performed his arduous tapas and finally received the anugraha of devI.

That reminds us of our childhood chahamAna friend, now settled at this place, who would often tell us about a khaDga of bhavAnI also having been given to the chahamAna-s, and that his family was in possession of the sword.  Their family would even now perform the ritual shastrapUjA on the vijayadashamI day when every adult (male and female) of his clan would perform their own symbolic bali before devI and offer their own blood at its blade.  We would of course be denied access to see it. 

Until last, when we did get to witness the rAjapUta sword of bhavAnI.  On its golden hilt is inscribed some mantra in devanAgarI text, now hardly legible, but we guess it is from atharvan veda… and its blade is graced by the image of raNodyata kAlI…


October 25, 2009

vasudhaiva kuTumbakam again

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Aah! Spotted this lovely subhAShita again, this time inscribed inside the courtyard of an anglo-rAjapUta havelI in ambara country!

DSC03828

October 13, 2009

mAna siMha the rAShTrakUTa II

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Military strength of the kacHavAhA-s alone was formidable enough, but when others joined ranks against mAna, including the house of bIkAnera, the French-trained and led infantry of sindhiyA-s, the paid afghAn mercenaries, and the detractor fractions of rAThora-s, the build up simply made jodhapura army look like a marriage party. Faced with such an asymmetrical equation mAna suffered major losses and the jaipura confederacy rapidly ran over mAravADa and invested the very capital of jodhapura. The career of mAna seemed to be done with before it had even taken off.

But the asymmetry of forces arrayed against him was only to make his subsequent turn around in the conflict appear as miraculous as his recent ascent to the throne. When everything seemed to be going against him, in a surprise reversal of fate he turned the tables by luring afghAn mercenaries with promise of bribery (although once his object was met he would suspend the payments of promised installments, a characteristic of mAna to which we shall return). The afghans, whose loyalty was ever flexible to align with the highest bidder unless there was a jehAd, took an about turn and unleashed a series of devastating plunders in the domain of jaipur, allowing a forward force of mAna to dash directly to kacHavAhA capital, forcing the gates of jaipur to be shut down for the first time since the founding of the city. This compelled jagat siMha to abandon the siege of jodhpura and rush to secure his capital, only to find his returning army charged at from two sides by the jodhapura detachments, causing a total stalemate for him. On other fronts, through the diplomacy of his kAyastha and vaishya envoys, mAna successfully extracted the conduct of neutrality from bIkAnera and other houses, although his efforts of engaging holkars in neutralizing sindhiyA-s proved futile.

Pressed badly and the conflict proving more costly than estimated, jaipur abandoned kR^iShNa’s hand and desperately proposed to jodhpura a restoration of friendship, which was accepted and sealed through a reciprocal matrimonial alliance: mAna married a kaChavAhI princess and jagata siMha a rAThorian.

Besides his regular force, mAna had the support of an interesting band of militant sAdhU-s fighting under the command of a sanyAsI general named mahanta karmadAsa bhAratI. [Such bands of militant sAdhU-s of nAgA, nAtha and goswAmI varieties have a history going back several centuries, when they had picked up arms in reaction to the Islamist invaders, generally for shielding the tIrtha-s and maTha-s from any sudden eruptions of allAh-u-akbar, and for resisting the invader until the regular Hindu armies, generally of slower mobility than the AtAtAyins, could relieve them. There is an incident of such a band fighting against Akbar’s jehAd in rAjapUtAnA, there is also a less known incident of their liberating ayodhyA for a brief period during awrangzib’s time, and in all probabilities they seem to have also inspired the sikh bands under bandA bairAgI. lAmA tArAnAtha also mentions the unsuccessful attempts of raising similar sAdhU armies in north-east against the jehAd of bakhtiyAr khaljI. Thus the sannyAsins of eighteenth century who gave British an armed resistance in va~Nga, an event eternalized by ba~Nkima chandra through his AnandamaTha, had a long vintage. Captain James Tod, who had occasioned to witness first hand such sAdhU fighters during his visits to rAjapUtAnA, rightly applied to them the title of ‘Hindu Knights Templar’, and Jadunath Sarkar provides a more detailed account in a less circulated work of his dedicated to the history of the nAgA-s. Even to this date, their descendants still symbolically preserve some of the earlier military rigour in some forms. On the outskirts of where we lived in childhood, a nAgA-maTha used to be situated and we have vivid memories of the naked sAdhU-s working out at their mudgara-s].

In an extremely tragic consequence however, kR^iShNA, for whose hand the very confrontation had begun, committed suicide by drinking poison from her father’s hand, and became immortal in the bardic legends. Many accounts provide varying motivations for the tragedy, but in our view the most reasonable seems to be that victorious mAna now turned his attention to mevADa and along with the paid afghan mercenaries pressurized mevADa for the hand of kR^iShNA. Being already engaged to the defeated prince, her marrying mAna would have meant a disgrace for mevADa, but on the other hand since the rAjapUta to whom she was engaged had himself abandoned her hand, retaliation against mAna was also meaningless. Therefore as becoming of a descendant of pratApa, suicide would have appeared more agreeable to kR^iShNA.

Besides this tragedy, the entire episode legitimized mAna’s ascent, established his authority, and further consolidated his faith in the nAtha-s, for whom he established a great maTha and endowed a district he created called mahAmandira comprising several villages, which became a major center of the nAtha-s in west and flourished until British later dismantled its maTha.

mAna siMha, although now in control of his kingdom, is about to face a much more formidable adversity like most of his contemporaries, arising from the altered configurations of geopolitics across the Hindu Nation and the arrival of the Great Game. In the larger picture of the time, maharaTTA-s were now deeply entrenched in internal conflicts with each other, and it seems while they were able to see through the mechanizations of the mlechcHa, were unable to outwit them at it (true to the prophetic assessment of bhUShaNa who had noted a few decades earlier already that, ‘while Hindus remain unsurpassed in manliness and valour, the Europeans are superb at strategizing and trap-laying!’). The inter-maharaTTA rivalry and the British game in encircling them was about to reach its climax, although even now it was the maharaTTA force of dawlatrAva sindhiyA led by his well known French Generals Pierre Cuillier-Perron and Louis Berquin that was controlling the moghal seat in dillI as a maharaTTA puppet, just like mahAdajI sindhiyA had done before him with his own French General Benoît de Boigne. From Indore, the holkars were also growing powerful, now under yashavantarAv holkar, the grandson of legendary general of peshavA, malhArarAv, famous for leading the maharaTTA legions beyond sindhu to hoist the saffron banner in Attock. yashavantarAv also depended upon the French mercenaries in his leading military positions, the most famous of whom was Captain Dudernac.

As an aside, we wonder whether maharaTTA-s could have fared better under Hindu Generals leading the charge, rather than outsourcing the key leadership positions of military, especially of the infantry and artillery, to French. Besides the backlash or jealousy from the native Generals, there is evidence to suggest the frequent treacheries at the worst moment, desertions, and less than spirited fight back by the European mercenaries fighting on the native side. Or whether they could have done better had they at least kept their own Generals in the lead, like the policy mahArAjA raNajIta siMha was following at the same time with much greater success? [While raNajIta siMha had employed Italian Generals like Jean-Baptiste Ventura and Paolo Di Avitabile, French Generals like Claude August Court, and even an American veteran of Russian army Alexander Campbell Gardner, he made it a point to remain suspicious of foreigners and keep them under close control, either directly under his own command on field, or sandwiched between the native senior Generals like hari siMha nAlvA or jassA siMha AhlUvAliyA.]

But coming back to mAna siMha and it is interesting to view these events from the vantage of his position. British had offered a very favorable treaty to the house of jodhapura before mAna had ascended the throne, under the larger policy of keeping the sikha-s, jATa-s, and rAjapUta-s neutral while they liquidated the maharaTTA-s in North India. Their negotiations were on with bhIma siMha rAThora before his premature death. But once mAna took the reign, he outright rejected the British proposal, refused to ratify the treaty which was already ratified by the East India Company and instead sent to them at dillI a draft of his own, with those conditions next to nullified which were the very objects of the British. Governor General Wellesley refused to sign the new treaty, and this was the end of their negotiations with jodhapura. It would seem a bit strange since by this time many others in rAjapUtAnA had already signed some sort of a treaty with British or the other, and rAThora-s being relatively weak would have looked up to some alliance.

But even before he had come to the throne of jodhapura, he was very friendly with yashavantarAv holkar, and had given him support during the latter’s intra-maharaTTA struggles, particularly after holkar had emerged as the potential rallying point in North India having defeated the joint forces of sindhiyA and peshavA on the dIpAvalI eve of 1802.

Once the Anglo-holkar conflicts broke out, mAna took open sides with yashavantarAva, frustrating the English policy of keeping rAjapUta-s neutral. During the 1804 siege of bharatapura, in which jATa-s and Holkars were able to humble the force of famed Lord Lake for a sustained period, not only had mAna sent a horse detachment to assist holkars, but had also brought the holkar family to the safety of his own city where they remained for a whole year despite all the diplomatic pressures the British resident in dillI applied on mAna to hand them over. No wonder, later on during his own contest against jaipur, he had expected his friend from Indore to come to his assistance, although that did not happen.

mAna was probably also inspired by the gorakhAlI-s of kAThamANDU, who were still successful in repulsing the British, and in fact the initial trial ventures by the British towards nepAla were met with such fierce retaliation that the mlechcHa-s were left quite intimidated and tamed. mAna, a spiritual brother of the shAha-s, bound with them in the nAtha brotherhood, probably underestimated the British at the moment.

However within the next decade the entire landscape changed with British gaining all their objectives on almost all the fronts, and the Hindus losing theirs one step by one. By 1805 itself, British had decisively defeated both the holkar and sindhiyA, thrusting on them very restrictive treaties, especially forcing them to cede most of the territories they had acquired beyond their base – holkar all territory to the north of ga~NgA, and sindhiyA all of his to the west of chambal, in south peshavA was already reduced to a puppet, although one more war in the next decade will ultimately seal the fate of the maharaTTA power. Besides, Europe being completely secure with the decisive elimination of Napoleon Bonaparte, angrez were now able to focus on delivering the sucker punch in the Indian colony, concentrating all their resources, technology, and man power to this theater.

Keeping the superb strategy and technology aside, we think British surely had a clear upper hand simply from the point of the quality of their battle-hardened military leadership, with such men leading their companies as Maj. General Charles Cornwallis, who had resisted George Washington in battles of New York, Princeton, Philadelphia and Virginia, before now coming to India to redeem his repute; Arthur Wellesley, whose war-resume boasted of extremely diverse experience across the continents ranging from the Flanders Wars along side the Austrians against the French, the naval war against Spanish in Philippines, action in Iberian peninsula, and finally the Waterloo campaign that ended the career of Napoleon, besides being a superb politician – he retired as the PM of UK; Thomas Hislop who had seen action on the British side during the American as well as French Revolutionary Wars, had commanded naval operations against Dutch in West Indies, had successfully led the Siege of Gibraltar defeating joint armies of Spaniards and French, now leading British action against the maharaTTA-s; General Gerard Lake, veteran of American, French and Irish wars; General David Ochterlony, an American colonial product born in Boston and veteran of a variety of battles in America and Europe before arriving in India (famous for his harem in dillI of over a dozen women). We must also say that the Europeans had also gained a very diverse exposure in different theatres even within India, from va~Nga to karNATa and nepAla to maharaTTA country, and the resulting cross-pollination of experience was a huge advantage to them which Hindus lacked at this stage of conflict to a large extent, with the old generation of the Great maharaTTA Generals gone, who had once scaled the whole map of Hindu Nation. Besides, the British Plan already had the solid backing of a very thorough study of India by now and evaluation of its people. Consider this: Captain James Tod had already surveyed the history and geography of the entire rAjapUta country with every single one of its clan – even though they were politically still independent – and had already produced in the first two decade his celebrated ‘Annals and Antiquities of rAjapUtAnA’, not to mention that the European Indology as a discipline was already flourishing with its second generation with the likes of Colebrooke and Schlegel now in chairs, William Jones dead just a couple of years back. In contrast, we seriously doubt if there was even one Hindu at the time who properly knew the basic history and geography of Britain! We must keep these views in mind when evaluating how the native states fared against such a well informed adversary with such a great military exposure, not to mention their technology and strategy for the Great Game.

But what did it mean for mAravADa, and mAna siMha its last independent king? In one single decade all his hopes of independence were dashed and he had come to realize that it was no use openly confronting the British. Those he looked upto, the holkar of indore and shAha of nepAla, had given up, and he himself was now facing renewed internal threats to his throne.

Continued

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September 14, 2009

mAna siMha the rAShTrakUTa

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

The recent discussions spawned by the rAjapUta jettisoned by the faux-hindutva party directed us to look into certain issues about the relation of his clansmen with a maverick leader of the rAThora-s, mahArAjA mAna siMha of jodhapura, in whom we find a good case study of considerable interest.

While mAna siMha is no hero, nor is he pretending to be, in our view his character still represents the collective contemporary Hindu psyche, with all their aspirations and consciousness as well as weaknesses and helplessness, of that sAndhya period when on one hand the Moon of the Hindu Resurgence was on the rise, and on the other the grahaNa wrought upon it by the mlechcHa-ketu was also imminent, an eclipse from which the Hindu fate never seems to have fully recovered.

In the tumultuous struggle of centuries fought by the mahArANA-s of mewADa, from saMgrAma siMha to pratApa siMha, against the hordes upon hordes of Islamites, none had joined them for longer, and watered the desert battlefields with their blood more plentifully, than the ‘hara-hara-mahAdeva’ shouting fierce hADA-s of koTA-bUndI and the rAThora-s of mArawADa, those North-West-wardly extraction of the legendary rAShTrakUTa-s from South.

Since the days when their contingents had fought under the Generalissimo of bhojadeva the pramAra in annihilating the Moslem barbaranins from ghazanA, to the era when they had sent their Princes and Generals to serve under the columns of mahArANA sAMgA against bAbUr, where they valiantly dyed kAlindI with their blood on the fateful day in biyAnA, to the era when they preferred to get slain in the samara rather than yield to the suzerainty of the moghul tyrant (until a black episode of their history which they recall as an eternal disgrace and curse upon themselves), to the time when now although yoked under the overlordship of shAhajahAn they perpetually remained in rebellion until gaining a virtual independence: their blood appears to have never seemed too costly a merchandise to them, for the honour of their five-coloured pacharaMgA mast.

Then emerging from the dark pall of the moghal sway, it was theirs that was the first rAjapUta sword, represented in legendary General durgA dAsa rAThora, the first among all rAjapUta-s of his time, that rose to strike down at the writ of awrangzib and reclaim a complete swarAja for mArawADa, as was being done at the same time in their ancestral country in South by the son of cHatrapati, to whom he had personally met to hand over the custody of the rebellious son of awrangzib, and giving a taste of his own medicine to the Islami maniac, had kept a Moghal princess, a grand-daughter of awrangzib, in a respectful detention in mAravADa until awrangzib himself begged for the demand of whatever ransom and terms of release. Their connection to cHatrapati goes further back to those days when it was through the intelligence sharing and guidance of the Lord of maru-s, jasawanta siMha rAThora, still counted in the first row of all time great rAjapUta warriors, who had secretly sought a meeting with shivAjI on the dense outskirts of pUnA and not only guided him about the designs which awrangzib had laid for the Rising Sun of hinduvAnA, to use the term bhUShaNa uses, but also tacitly helped him get the better of shAistA khAn by silently withdrawing the rAjapUta-s troops from the fort on the night of the operation. (Incidentally, both shivAjI and jasawanta siMha shared a lot in common: the similarity of the cunning they had independently employed in their early careers; both of their sons were sent to torturous death by awrangzib; even the year when both of them breathed their last is the same, but this interesting subject we shall broach on some other occasion.)

In short, of rAThora-s is a saga of those qualities of valour, cunning and loyalty to motherland, which every rAjapUtAnI of marriageable age seeks to find in her future husband, and when she becomes sagarbhA, prays to bhavAnI for the fruit of her womb to be endowed with.

Such is the valiant clan whose leader our subject became at a time when the Hindu History was staring at a major crossroad. The epoch of the time of his birth was such that the maharaTTA power was still holding considerable sway generally from coast to coast in dakShiNa and while much mismanaged and neither as united nor spirited as they used to be under the early peshavA-s, their writ was still running in the Gangetic plains from dillI to va~Nga. A flowering Hindu kingdom erected a little earlier in the himAlaya by the blessed pR^ithvI nArAyaNa shAha was already flourishing in nepAla. In North-West, the followers of gobinda siMha had effectively subjugated the Islamites to create a powerful kingdom that sprawled from the plains of pa~nchanada to as far west as knocking gAndhAra and as far North as enveloping the entire kashmIra; the fierce and rustic jATa-s had all but completely ejected afghAn savages from the place of our birth; and the remaining centers of Moslem power were now limited to being pale patches upon the mAnachitra of Hindu Nation like the receding pimples from the skin of a swiftly recoveing patient of small-pox. The year was 1804 when the destiny of young mAna siMha saw him take the mettle of jodhapura, which he attributed to the blessings of his guru, a miraculous nAtha yogI.

His ascension, like his many counterparts of contemporary landscape was not smooth, indeed it happened against all odds. We shall do injustice to the colourfulness of events if we omit some of those interesting backgrounds.

His grandfather, rAjA vijaya siMha rAThora, had several wives and children and grand children, and although well past the prime of his youth he fell in amour with a beautiful damsel from a rich oswAla family of his capital. The whole matter caused much scandal across mAravADa, but the antidote of the prospect of losing repute was not strong enough to subdue the affliction caused by the arrows of rati’s husband! Marriage, although vijaya siMha desired so, was disallowed to him by his priests and nobles, so the elderly rAThora simply took the lady of his infatuation as a concubine. Soon it seems his heart sank in the passion for this rUpasI from one depth to the other and infatuation turned to devotion. The young object of his dote, on the other hand, was not so selfless and demanded equal rights as his other wives, and treated the old king with no dignity; on one occasion she is reported to have thrown her sandals at him. The royal lover, ripe in body but teenager at heart, finally decided to install upon her all the legal rights that his other legally wedded rAjapUtAnI queens had, including giving her a real heir of his own vIrya. To this effect, and biologically being too old to put a child in her lap, he decided to adopt a young grandson of his own, with the lady of his love as the adopting mother, and declared the child, this grandson turned son, our mAna siMha, the yuvarAjan.

This way, while mAna siMha legally superseded his several uncles and biological father, who incensed at being deprived of their birth rights and supported by the nobles disgusted by the behaviour of their king, plotted and eventually dethroned the old king and had the lady murdered. A wily uncle of his, bhIma siMha took the throne, followed by a bloody liquidation of all other competitors except one, the young mAna siMha, who survived because he was at the time away in the fort of Jhalore, which was not in the immediate reach of the arms of jodhapura, and although the assassin bhIma siMha later laid many sieges to Jhalore, he did not succeed in liquidating mAna.

Growing up in seclusion, away from his country and without care of any parents, mAna siMha once chanced upon meeting a nAtha siddha while wandering in the araNya, and the rest of the story is in the template of what we have heard on many instances, now in relation to bappA rAvala and now in the rise of pR^ithvI nArAyaNa of nepAla. Although having no hopes for future, living a life of deprivation, and being captured and executed appearing a matter of time, his fate took a surprise turn, which he attributed to the blessings of the yogI, when suddenly in mid of a siege usurper-assassin bhIma siMha died without any apparent cause, allowing mAna siMha to swiftly claim, with a small band of his armed followers, his legal right to the throne founded by his illustrious ancestor jodhA siMha rAThora.

When he assumed office, he was faced with two challenges: one, the sindhiyA-s of Gwalior refused to recognize the sovereignty of mAravADa and threatened a war. Second, some of the nobles loyal to bhIma siMha pretended that a wife of bhIma siMha was pregnant at the time of his death, and the posthumous child born in secrecy was the legal heir to throne, not mAna.

But it was another event which might seem trivial and unnecessary to an uninitiated but will be immediately understood and felt, by those familiar with the rAjapUta psyche, which caused a long drawn war and resulted in much bloodletting for which rAjapUta-s were always ready.

As we know, mewADa is the most sacred seat of rAjapUta pride, indeed the pride of India. Up until the late times, no Hindu king at least of North India would be legitimized until he receives the approval of this house. It was no wonder that shivAjI always aspired to declare his lineage to be from this house, and the brAhmaNa-s of kAshI were presented written letter of approval from the then rANA before shivAjI’s rAjyAbhiSheka would be performed. Even saradAra vallabha bhAI paTela, the Iron Man, had first approached mewADa before any other state for the accession to the Republic of India, and the signature of the rANA of mewADa was the first on the instrument, before any other, and likewise after the Consitution was accepted, the first President of the Republic, Dr. rAjendra prAsada, rode on the first republic day from rAShTrapati bhavana to Red Fort on the royal elephant sent by the rANA, as a symbolic gesture of mewADa’s goodwill towards the democracy.

So, even if physically weakened at times, the house of bappA rAvala had always reserved the universal claim on being the first of all the rAjapUta clans. Marrying one’s daughter into the mewADa house, to the pure bloodline of the rANA-s, the living descendants of rAmachandra and very regents on earth of mahAdeva, is a matter of much prestige for any rAjapUta clan, what to say of receiving the hand of a sisodiyA daughter in matrimony!

A princess of mewADa named kR^iShNA kumArI was the daughter of bhIma siMha, the then rANA, and she was reputed as much for the qualities becoming of a good rAjapUtAnI as for her looks. Before his death, bhIma siMha of jodhapura had approached the eponymous rANA with matrimonial proposal for himself with this princess. This was natural as the rAThora-s were always considered more preferable matrimonial allies by the house of mewADa, examples of which include such names as mIrAbAI, a rAThora princess by birth and sisodiyan queen by marriage, or the mother of jasawanta siMha rAThore, a mewADian chief princess. But before rANA could have responded, the matter simply ended with the untimely death of bhIma siMha rAThore, and allowed another prince, jagata siMha kacHavAhA, the prince of jaipur, to approach rANA for the fair hand of kR^iShNA.

The marriage was very important for the house of ambar, who with all their fat purse gained from the centuries of alliance with moghals, were suffering due to the same cause, from a low prestige. They were considered almost next to an outcast by more important of the 36 clans of rAjapUta-s, since that day when mahArANA had refused to see the face of and dine with the kacHavAhA prince and envoy of turuShka because not only had the house of ambar accepted the suzerainty of the Moslem but also given them their daughter in marriage! But now, with the changed landscape, the glory of jaipur can be instantly restored in the eyes of other houses, if the present rANA would agree to the matrimonial alliance, that too of the famed princess kR^iShNA.

But this was not acceptable to rAThora pride. With young mAna on the cushion of jodhapura being available to replace bhIma siMha in the previous proposal, rANA’s even considering to give the fair hand of sisodiyA princess to the lowly kacHavAhA-s was not any less than a sacrilege! It should be noted here that lately the rAThora face was not altogether clean of the same blot too, and they had on multiple occasions married their daughters into moghals; indeed the famous jodhA was a rAThorian, and even the last recorded marriage of any rAjapUtAnI to a moghal, was also of a rAThorian princess, the daughter of ajita siMha rAThora. It is possible that it was from the same motivation as that of the kacHavAhA-s that the hand of kR^iShNa became such a matter of prestige for rAThora-s too.

They declared a war upon jaipur and its allies.

Continues…

jodhapura

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