“I vow before Gods that I would sleep on a straw bed and eat on pattras (leaf Plate) and leave my palace to live in jungles until I bring back the glory of Chittor.” -Maharana Pratap
On the 481st birth anniversary of the valiant king, we offer an ode to his unparalleled bravery, selfless duty towards motherland, and unshakable grit and resilience against the expansionist Mughal forces.
Who was Maharana Pratap?
Pratap Singh was born on May 9, 1540, in Kumbhalgarh to Rana Uday Singh ll and Rani Jeevant Kanwar. He is hailed as the hero of Rajasthan and several ballads and folklores are weaved around episodes of his heroic spirit, sacrifice, and resilience.
When the brave Mewari Raja, beaming with pride used to stand against his enemies, even the mightiest of warriors used to get terrorized by just a glimpse of him. Maharana Pratap was 7 feet and 5 inches tall and carried an 80-kilogram spear and two swords, which collectively weighed 208 kilograms. The armor he used to wear weighed 72 kilograms.
He belonged to the lineage of Rajput kings who were known far and wide for their valor and pride like Rana Hammir Singh, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sangha who fought until their last breath but never let down the pride and glory of their land.
The brave son of the motherland:
The life of Maharana Pratap is an eternal tale of inextinguishable love for one’s motherland, written with pride in the history of Rajasthan.
Maharana Pratap was an ideal king who cared for his people like a father who cares for his son. A proud Rajput, he refused to submit before the Mughal forces led by Akbar even after his continuous efforts. He was the only Rajput ruler who dared to not just resist but defy the massive army of Akbar and fought until his last breath, preserving the pride and glory of his motherland.
From a very tender age, Pratap Singh took a keen interest in the geopolitical and military exploits of his father against the barbaric invasions of Afghan generals.
He also assisted his father Rana Uday Singh in battles, which proved the steel of the crown prince’s love for the nation and his fearless and fiercely independent spirit to the nobles.
Of Maharana’s charismatic leadership and compassion:
It was the Maharana’s humility, compassion, and charisma that made him so dear to everyone, from his nobles to the common people and even the often neglected tribes of Mewar. The brave king had a compassionate heart, which vowed to never attack an un-armed enemy.
Pratap Singh had such devoted allies, who were ready to happily stake their everything on Maharana’s command. From Gwalior’s Ram Shah Tanwar and his three sons-Rawat Krishnadas Chundawat Ji, Maan Singh Jhala Ji, and Chandrasen Rathore Ji of Marwar to Rao Jaimal Ji, Patta, the Afghan leader Hakim Khan Sur, and a small army of people from the Bhil tribe led by Rao Poonja. The Bhil tribe was so much touched by the Maharana’s humility, that they used to call him ‘Kika’, which means son.
His words were so powerful and filled with the fierce spirit to preserve the pride of motherland, that it could motivate armies to give up their everything and change the course of a battle.
The historic battle of Haldighati:
On the yellow sand fields of Rajasthan, the historic war of Haldighati was fought on 18 June 1576 between Maharana Pratap Singh and Akbar’s forces led by Raja Man Singh l of Amer.
Anguished by a long wait of 3 years and several attempts made by the Delhi emperor Akbar to bring Maharana Pratap under his clutches gone in vain, Akbar declared a war.
Maharana too shifted his capital from Mewar to Kumbhalgarh in the Aravalli, in the midst of thick forests and surrounded by unfathomable mountain ranges. Maharana Pratap trained the Bhils, the tribes of Mewar as they had no experience of fighting any war. Further, Maharana used his guerilla war tactics in the battle against the massive army of the Mughals.
An army of 22,000 soldiers led by Maharana Pratap engaged the army of Akbar with 2,00,000 soldiers in a fierce battle. With a terrific war-cry, Maharana Pratap moved forward, his beloved horse Chetak pounced on the enemy’s elephant, intimidating it with his pride and fierce courage, in the next moment Maharana rose above in the air and split the enemy of his motherland, Behlol Khan into two halves with a single swing of his mighty sword.
His soldiers exhibited exemplary valor and grit in the battle. Although he had to retreat in the battle, but Akbar’s army was not successful in completely defeating the mighty warrior.
Chetak: an epitome of profound loyalty
पड़ी अचानक नदी अपार
घोड़ा कैसे उतरे पार।
राणा ने सोचा इस पार
तब तक चेतक था उस पार।।
It is not every day that we come across tales like these of profound loyalty and love.
Maharana Pratap had a faithful horse named ‘Chetak’, who was immortalized in the battle of Haldighati, becoming a personification for a selfless act of loyalty. Chetak had received serious injuries in the battle of Haldighati, but to save Maharana from the troops of enemies who followed him, he jumped over a big canal. As soon as he crossed the canal, ‘Chetak’ fell down and died saving Rana Pratap’s life.
At this moment, the mighty Maharana wept like a young child over the death of his faithful horse, beholding his face in his hands as he rested his body on his lap. Later, a beautiful garden was constructed by him at the place where Chetak had breathed his last.
Sand from the land whose son sacrificed his everything for the welfare of its people…
The US President Abraham Lincoln once stated that when he was about to visit India, he asked his mother if he could bring something for her from the country. To which, his mother said, “Bring me the sand of Haldighati of that great country, whose king sacrificed his everything for the welfare of his people and loyalty towards his motherland. ”
Of a death that led even an enemy to shed tears:
Maharana Pratap breathed his last on 29th January 1597 at the age of 56 in Chavand. He died of injuries received during a hunting event. After the news of his death reached Akbar, it made even his greatest opponent shed a tear, of pain and loss in the memory of a mighty warrior.