- Pratap Singh ascended the throne in 1572. During this time, Akbar acted as the Mughal Ruler in Delhi.
- In the Battle of Haldighati that took place in 1576, 20,000 Rajputs fought against a Mughal army of 80,000 headed by Raja Man Singh.
- In the last ten years of his life, Rana fought many wars, retaking control of Mewar.
Born to Maharana Udai Singh II and Rani Jeevant Kanwar on 9 May 1540, Maharana Pratap was the eldest of twenty five sons. Heir to his father’s kingdom, he was destined to rule over Mewar as the 54th ruler in the line of Sisodiya Rajputs.
However, before his death in 1572, Maharana Udai Singh had named his son, Jagammal heir to the throne. Unsatisfied with this wish, the nobles of the deceased Maharana had named his elder son the heir once again.
Pratap Singh ascended the throne in 1572. During this time, Akbar acted as the Mughal Ruler in Delhi. In order to realise his dream of becoming the Jahanpanah of Hindustan, Akbar had taken various measures to seize control of the Rajput kingdoms.
He had sent six emissaries to Mewar to get Pratap Singh to sign a treaty. To his disappointment, Rana refused each time. He was not ready to let a foreigner seize control of his motherland.
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Rana’s constant refusal to sign the treaty angered the Mughal emperor. He declared war on Mewar. He alienated Mewar from all their traditional allies and encouraged the people of Chittor (the capital of Mewar) to rise against their king. Moreover, Rana’s brothers, Shakti Singh and Jagammal Singh had sided with Akbar.
In preparation for the inevitable war, Maharana brought about changes in his administration. He directed his army to head towards the Aravali ranges and leave no resources behind for the Mughal army.
In the Battle of Haldighati that took place in 1576, 20,000 Rajputs fought against a Mughal army of 80,000 headed by Raja Man Singh. To the astonishment of everyone, the result of the battle was indecisive. Even though Rana Pratap was surrounded by the Mughal soldiers, his army was undefeated. Also, in this infamous war, Rana’s beloved horse, Chetak had died protecting his owner.
After the war ended, the Mughal emperor made several attempts to take over Mewar. The attempts proved to be fruitless. However, the relentless attacks by the Mughals left the Rajput army weak. Rana, along with his family, was on the run. They travelled from jungle to jungle, in the mountains and valleys. Food was scarce and they often slept empty stomached.
There also came a time when the Rajput king had almost made truce with Akbar. When his children’s meal of bread made from grass was stolen by a dog, Rana was deeply hurt. He was filled with self doubt and grief. During this time, he had demanded a “mitigation of his hardship” from the Mughal emperor.
In response to this, Pruthviraj, a poet from Akbar’s court wrote to Rana. He boosted his morale and told him not to give up his fight. This filled the Rajput king with inspiration and motivation that was needed to continue with his fight.
During this time, Bhama Shah, a minister of Rana, could not see his king suffer any longer. He gave away all his wealth to his king, so that the army could be sustained. It was because of his contribution that an army of 25,000 sustained for over 12 years.
In the last ten years of his life, Rana fought many wars, retaking control of Mewar. However, he never gained control of Chittor again. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Amar Singh I. He instructed his son to never give up his fight to free their motherland from the clutches of foreigners.
Maharana Pratap Singh is still remembered for his bravery and courage. His valiant nature has been a source of inspiration for many. May his memory never die!
-By Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi
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