Today is the 481th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap (1540-1597). Sometimes, a picture speaks more than a thousand words.
This picture depicts the map of India in 1590. As can be seen, most of North India had been conquered by Mughal invaders from Central Asia. But the map shows a very tiny saffron drop around Mewar. This is the independent Hindu kingdom of Mewar under Maharana Pratap which had not capitulated to Mughal imperialism. The tiny saffron kingdom of Pratap included Kumbhalgarh, Udaipur and Gogunda.
The map is a testimony to courage, determination, spirit of Independence, will power and stratagem of Maharana Pratap. Can we even imagine the difficulty to not capitulate to an imperialist Jihadi superpower like the Mughal kingdom surrounding him on all sides, which never left any stone unturned to conquer and destroy Hindu kingdoms.
This is all the more remarkable that Chittor DID NOT have any fort when Pratap became king in 1572. Akbar had invaded in 1568 and destroyed Chittor fort in a five month long siege. The reason given in Akbar's Fathnama for Akbar's invasion was that the Hindu "infidel" ruler of Mewar had not accepted the supremacy of Islam under Mughal rule. Akbar wanted to be the undisputed master of Hindustan. Mewar was the only stone in his path.
The Chittor fort according to Mughal records was 10km in length and 1.6 KM in width. It took Akbar 7500 kg of Gunpower to blow up away the walls of Chittor fort. It was defended by a force of 5000-8000 Rajputs who were faced against a massive Mughal army of 80,000. During the peak of siege, around 200 Mughals were killed by Rajputs everyday. It took Akbar almost 6 months to capture Chittor fort, after which there was 2 days of intense Saka ("fight to death") by Rajputs.
That was when the entire family of Rana Pratap commited Jauhar including all his aunts and nieces. After the conquest of Chittor fort, Akbar order general massacre (Qatl-e-am) of all Rajasthani civilians and atleast 30,000 were murdered. Akbar described the battle as Jihad and glorified this massacre as a great victory of Islam in his Fathnama.
Pratap inherited a destroyed kingdom. And he sustained it in face of all odds. He fought open battles and restored its glory. He was facing a formidable Mughal enemy which had world's greatest army (numerically) and unlimited resources at its disposal. And Pratap had absolutely nothing. EVERYTHING had been lost and destroyed in Akbar's devastating Jihad of 1568. He inherited a kingdom which did not have soldiers. Did not have a standing army. Did not have forts. All he really inherited was the royal Sisodia blood and the pride of Mewar. The rest was the military and administrative genius of Pratap. He had to build everything from scratch. Therein lies his unparalleled greatness.
In Haldigathi, he faced a Mughal army twice his size. Although this battle turned out to be quite inconclusive as Pratap could not be vanquished. In absence of strong forts, Pratap leveraged his Guerilla strategy perfectly. He retreated up the hills if an army pursued him and thundered down on them once they retreated. In 2 decades, Pratap regained much of lost Mewar kingdom.Therein lies his unparalleled greatness.
1)Akbarnama by Abul Fazl
2)Akbar's fathnama dated 1568
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