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In throwing back assault after furious assault launched by barbarous Muslim hordes abetted by their terrorized Hindu henchmen for 11 long and weary years, Rana Pratap has written page after page of Indian history with the scarlet of Hindu blood and the gold of India's patriotic glory.
Contrary to popular belief it was Rana Pratap who ultimately emerged the victor while Akbar was tired out in that war of attrition. By his incessant struggle, Rana Pratap demonstrated to his dispirited, disheartened leader-colleagues that a patriotic Hindu struggle for survival based on truth, justice and purity of emotion, bravely and relentlessly waged could always triumph against medieval Muslim tyranny, treachery, deceit, torture, cruelty, lechery, rape and rapine.
Such heroes are remembered for making their mothers' milk resplendent. And Rana Pratap is truly among the foremost of such tenacious fighters who not only added rare nectar to his own mother's milk but also eternal glory to the ancient cradle of Mother India.
Rana Pratap was a scion of the Sisodias, the royal house of Chittor. The Sisodia family had had a succession of heroes seldom equaled by any single family in world's medieval history.
The names of Kalbhoj Bapa, the progenitor of the Sisodias, Sumer Singh who helped Prithvi Raj fight the invader Shahabuddin Ghori, Bhim Sen the commander in chief of Rana Ratan Singh who fought off tooth and nail the lecherous Allauddin Khilji, Rana Hamir who heaped defeat after defeat on the Muslims to redeem Chittor, Rana Kumbha who defeated the Muslim usurpers of Malwa, and the redoubtable Rana Sangram Singh, the war-scarred hero of many a battle against the alien Muslim tyrant, constituted some of the scintillating star-leaders born in the Sisodia galaxy.
They had all made their mothers' milk glorious by trying to clear India of the Muslim invaders whose regimes, stinking with bribery and corruption, murder and massacre, torture and tyranny, rape and rapine, sacrilege and devastation, Jeziya and Jihad, adultery and incest, sexual perversion and drunken revelries, sodomy and barbarity had made life hell for all peace-loving Hindu inhabitants of the subcontinent. Like a pest these alien marauders infested a major part of India.
The Sisodias, unlike many others, could never be cheated into believing or be coaxed into putting up with Muslim barabrities on the specious plea of achieving a wonderful fusion of Arabic and Persian culture (sic) with the Indian. The Sisodias were not the ones who could sit tight on their thrones with eyes shut when a monstrous, devastating and parasitic Muslim graft was being forcibly implemented in the prosperous garden that was India.
The one reason why Mewar is a desert today is that for centuries all vegetation in it had been systematically burnt down by Muslim marauders to reduce the brave Rajputs to submission through sheer starvation.
Rana Pratap was the grand-son of the great warrior Rana Sangram Singh who contended against the first Moghul invader, Babur.
Rana Sangram Singh alias Rana Sanga's death on January 30, 1528 A.D. was followed by stupid anarchy and intrigue within the Sisodia household while alien Muslim invaders prowled over the countryside like wolves and hyenas eager to make dainty morsels of maimed and fangled Hindu principalities.
At last Uday Singh succeeded to his father Sanga's throne in 1537 A.D. But he could not bring order and cohesion in that tormented house. Though not a good organizer and stern leader of men, the Sisodia spirit in him refused to seek submission by sacrificing proud Rajput virginity to Akbar's vile venery, which insisted on dragging Rajasthani beauties to his vicious harem.
One of Uday Singh's minor sons, Shakti Singh, had, however, been lured away by the wily Akbar to be used as a tool to cleave Rajput loyalty to the Sisodias.
Straining at the leash to humble the proud Sisodias, Akbar flew at their very throat by besieging the Chittor fort, their ancient seat, and pressing the attack with his brutal might and beastly Muslim atrocities. The splendid mountain-fortress hallowed by the patriotic blood spilled in its defense by generations of brave Rajput men and women, was ultimately irretrievably lost to the Brutal Muslim marauder on February 24, 1568 A.D.
Uday Singh died sad at heart on March 3, 1572 A.D. He had 24 sons from 25 wives of whom Pratap born on May 9, 1540 A.D. was the eldest.
Uday Singh, in his senility, had willed the throne to Jagmal, a younger son from a junior wife. Jagmal was not fit enough to be the king of Mewar. Pratap was about to leave after father's coronation for an unknown destination; he had thought that he was not wanted for the throne. But the senior Rajput nobles did not like this state of things. They made Pratap the king. Pratap was caught at the nick of time by the senior nobles for just at that time, Pratap was about to leave his home on horseback to an unknown destination!
Pratap was enthroned amidst shouts of 'Rana Pratap ki Jai' and later events clearly showed that the choice of the senior nobles was the right choice. Pratap was the best king Mewar could have at that juncture.
Jagmal lost no time in repairing to the court of Akbar, India's enemy number one. The wily Akbar made a convenient tool of Jagmal to drive a wedge between the Rajputs. Thus Jagmal proved himself to be one of the worst bastards of Rajput history.
As was the custom, a royal hunt was arranged on the coronation day after the enthroning ceremony. Rana Pratap led the senior nobles in the hunt which served the purpose of battle training and provided an opportunity for leadership and fighting talent to be spotted out. The hunt resulted in a sumptuous kill, which was a good augury.
Foreseeing a long and ceaseless struggle against the Muslims, Rana Pratap chose Kumbhalgarh, a fort 44 miles from Udaipur, for his capital. This fort with its difficult mountain perch and rings of massive walls provided enough security from surprise attacks by Muslim swarms.
A public celebration of Rana Prataps' coronation followed at Kumbhalgarh as a reminder that this was but a make-do substitute for the ancient capital Chittor, which still remained to be wrested from Akbar.
All patriotic Rajput chiefs, who felt the need to uproot the alien Muslim kingdom grafts in India, assembled to pay homage to the new leader Pratap, with a silent prayer in their hearts that he should succeed in exterminating the enemy. Among those who came to pay homage was the aged Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur, whose daughter had been married to Pratap's father Uday Singh.
Chandrasen was keen on making common cause with Pratap to fight Akbar. Rai Narayandas of Idar, father-in-law of Pratap, was also on their side.
Apprehensive of this combination of three patriotic Hindu rulers, Akbar threw a gauntlet by stationing two punitive detachments of his army at Idar and Jodhpur respectively.
At the time of Pratap's accession, Akbar was a terror. The whole of northern India was under his paw and almost every Rajput chief of repute, excepting those mentioned above and Rao Surtan of Sirohi, had accepted meek and humiliating submission by accepting Akbar's lecherous condition of sending their sisters, daughters and wives to Akabr's harem.
In addition to surrendering Rajput beauties to Moghul lechery, Rajput princes had to be kept at Akbar's court to insure their sisters' unquestioned and unchallenged sexual submission.
Rao Chadrasen and Rao Surtan had practically no territory left of their own. They were constantly hounded out by the Moghuls. Rai Narayandas of Idar, Pratap's father-in-law, had also at times to bow to Muslim pressure. So Pratap was the only one to hold his head high in freedom like a flashing beacon on the bedrock of patriotism.
Akbar was in search of a pretext to attack and subdue Pratap. He had been planning a campaign against Sultan Muzaffarshah of Gujarat. The route lay through Rajasthan. But with a hostile Pratap, Akbar's armies could not pass unchallenged.
The wily Akbar used this occasion to probe Rana Pratap's stand. The Jaipur family had surrendered many of its daughters to Akbar's harem and pawned many princes at his court. Raja Mansingh, a scion of that family, had become Akbar's unwitting henchman. He used to fight Akbar's battles and procure Rajput princesses for Akbar's harem. Trapping more and more Rajput women for Akbar helped assuage Mansingh's sense of shame.
In using Mansingh as a stooge and panderer, Akbar employed the principle of the 'khedda' operation in which a tamed elephant is used to trap and rope in his free comrades to sweat and slave to the master's service.
After the capture of Gujarat's degenerate Muslim sultan Muzaffar-shah on November 17, 1572 A.D., Akbar finalized his plans for subduing Rana Pratap. A mighty army under Mansingh was sent against Pratap's less determined allies so that feeling isolated, Pratap may be overawed into submission without risking an encounter.
A concentrated attack with a vastly outnumbering army was launched against Dongarpur. The ruler, Rawal Askarn, had to flee to the mountains. The citizens were subjected to torture, cruel levies ad merciless plunder. Young women were either raped or roped in.
Mansingh, the Moghul stooge, now sought an audience with Pratap. The fateful meeting took place on the bank of Udaysagar Lake in Udaypur in June 1573 A.D. It was like a royal elephant bedecked in borrowed trappings meeting a lion, the king of the jungle in his own right. A right royal dinner was laid out but none of the host's party would condescend to share the meal with Mansingh, the traitor, the renegade, the deserter, the turncoat, the stooge, the panderer, the Moghul slave. He was not even allowed to broach the topic of submission to Akbar. An enraged Mansingh hurled a veiled threat of a relentless campaign. Pratap's lieutenant Bhim Singh Sisodia retorted sternly that not only will the Moghul's onslaught be met with Hindu patriotism but that the Rajput horse standing on its hind legs would rest its front hoofs on his royal elephant's head. These words proved prophetic for in the battle of Haldighat, Rana Pratap's horse Chetak actually accomplished the feat and Mansingh was saved from being speared to death because he hid behind the 'mahout'.
The meeting ended in a huff. Mansingh was piqued being forced to dine alone. He left swearing vengeance. Rana Pratap had the place where Mansingh had sat, dug up to a great depth, Ganga water sprinkled, the utensils used in serving a meal to Mansingh, were thoroughly scrubbed, the tentage was burned and all those who had seen Mansingh underwent a purificatory bath and other rituals at Pratap's behest so that the canker of slavery, the infectious serfdom and Muslimphilia from which Mansingh was suffering may not affect the Sisodias. When news of this disinfecting ceremonial reached Mansingh's ears, he was further incensed. He had the temper of the Rajputs but without their pride and character.
Akbar avoided to meet Pratap in the battlefield yet. He did not want to taste his first defeat in the hands of Pratap. Akbar sent another embassy to Pratap under Raja Bhagwandas of Jaipur. The meeting took place at Gogunda in October, 1573 A.D. Bhagwandas was sent away with a lesson or two on patriotism from Rana Pratap, to ponder over at leisure.
Then came Todarmal - an upstart, a cunning slave who had risen from a clerk's post by fawning on the alien Moghul. Pratap hardly cared to meet him. He came in December 1573 A.D. Pratap refused to be a fellow traveler.
Rana Pratap's friends and sympathizers were now singled out by Akbar for attack and made to submit. Rai Narayandas, Rai Surtan of Sirohi, Chandrasen of Jodhpur and his nephew Kalla, Rao Meghraj of Mahoba, Rawal Askarn of Dongarpur kept popping up their heads in independence. Rana Pratap's guerrillas in the meantime kept up swooping on Moghul garrisons and checkposts and snapping their communications. Jalaluddin Qurchi, a high ranking commander of Akbar's army, died of battle wounds and Rana Pratap put to flight the leaderless contingent in November, 1575 A.D.
In April 1578 A.D. through sheer desperation Akbar mustered enough courage to launch a campaign against Rana Pratap after having mauled and reduced all his allies. An illiterate profligate that Akbar was, his measure of humiliating and subjugating the Hindus was to drag their women to his lusty bed chamber. The thought that he had so far been successfully held at bay from taking any Sisodia girl to his voluptuous bed rankled in Akbar's lecherous mind.
The sexual urge was one of Akbar's prime motives in pouncing upon Gond Rani Durgavati and hankering to hunt down Pratap, the lion who mounted zealous guard on the undefiled virginity of Mewar to protect it from the prowling Moghul hyenas.
In all Akbar's campaigns against Rajasthan, he used the name of the dead fakir Moinuddin Chishti, buried at Ajmer, as a stalking- horse for Hindu baiting. His so called pilgrimages to Ajmer were pious frauds. They were meant as a camouflage and specious pretexts to use Ajmer as a spring-board against the proud Hindu royalties of Rajasthan. As soon as his Rajasthan campaigns ended we do not hear of Akbar's visits any more to the Chishti tomb.
This time too Akbar hatched his plot and massed his armies at Ajmer. Mansingh, the slavish stooge, was deputed to head the expedition so that Hindu may kill Hindu to bring glory to Islam. If the expedition ended in disaster, the blame would be heaped on the Rajputs.
Mansingh was assisted by Asaf Khan, Sayyad Hashim Barha, Sayyad Ahmad, Raja Jagannath Kachhwaha, Rai Sunkaran Kachhwaha and Mehtar Khan. Incidentally, Rai Jagannath was one of the three Jaipur princes captured by Akbar's commander, Sharfuddin, and threatened with death by torture. It was then that Jaipur's proud ruler Bharmal had to eat the humble pie and meeting the 19-year- old hypocrite pilgrim Akbar at Sambhar (on way to Ajmer) had to sacrifice the virginity of his beloved daughter in the fire of Akbar's teenage lechery to redeem the lives of Khangar, Jagannath and Raj Singh. This shameless blackmail and naked rape has been glorified and glossed over in current Indian histories as Akbar's great and noble marriage policy in the interests of communal harmony (sic).
Mansingh's mighty army left Ajmer on April 3, 1576 A.D. Rana Pratap, forestalling the Muslim advance, had advised the Rajput peasantry to harvest their standing crop a little early and store it in the forts lest the merciless Muslim vandals burn it down. His command was implicitly obeyed. The Moghul armies found it hard to procure anything even after threats, blackmail and torture because Rana Pratap had worked out an ingenious day-to- day rationing system operated from the warehouses in the well-guarded forts. This has been misrepresented by lying Muslim chroniclers as Pratap's deliberate destruction of all vegetation in Mewar on the eve of the Muslim advance.
Pratap too mobilized the peasantry. Mansingh moved on to Mojera at the foot of Haldighati mountain range. Pratap moved south from Kumbhalgarh toward Khamnur village. His movements were so secret that Mansingh's entire unsuspecting host lay at his mercy encamped near Loha Singh village. But Bida Jhala, a senile nobleman with a misplaced sense of Rajput chivalry, insisted that no such attack be carried out. This obstinate stand saved Mansingh and his proud Moghul horde from a shameful disaster.
Pratap's troops emerging through the narrow defile of Haldighat launched a frontal attack on Mansingh's army at Khamnur on June 21, 1576 A.D. It was a determined attack on Mansingh's phalanx. Striking right and left in patriotic fury, Pratap's troops completely broke the Moghul ranks. Ghazi Khan, who had held his ground well, precipitately fled on receiving a thrust from a Rajput sword. This was the first time in many decades that the Rajputs had dared to challenge the vast imperial Muslim might in open field combat taking the offensive themselves.
The contempt and deep rooted hatred that Akbar's Muslims had for the Rajput mercenaries in their own army is exemplified by a characteristic comment. When the opposing forces were locked in battle and Rajput could not be distinguished from Rajput, some Muslims asked their Moghul commander where to shoot their arrows. With disarming candor the Moghul commander replied that they could nonchalantly shoot at any Rajput for after all any Kafir killed was a gain to Islam. There was another remote motive also that when an allied Rajput chief got killed some of his women and children could be forced or coerced into Islamic harems and slavery without much ceremony.
In their dazed and disarrayed flight the Moghul imperial forces withdrew 12 miles. But just at that time the tide of the battle turned against Rana Pratap. Mehtar Khan, who held large and fresh reserves at the rear, beat the royal kettle drums and spread the rumor that Akbar himself had arrived with large reinforcements.
This announcement terrified the fleeing Moghul ranks. Akbar was a cruel taskmaster. He used to raise towers of human skulls after almost every battle and measure his success by the height of those bizarre towers. It could be that an angered revengeful Akbar might even order their own fleeing heads to be severed and added to the tower.
The mad and desperate onrush of the Moghul armies was now too much for the depleted Rajput ranks. They had now to fight a desperate defensive action with their backs to the Haldighat defile. Rana Pratap was now himself in the thick of the fray surrounded by the enemy and mounted on his elephant Ram Prasad.
The enemy's arrow hit the animal at a delicate spot and he seemed to slump in pain. Rana Pratap's faithful horse, Chetak, was brought alongside. Mounting the horse, he spurred it along charging into the very midst of the enemy ranks quickly slashing Muslim heads and traitor Rajput throats with his flashing sword. He could easily be identified because of the Hindu saffron standard that fluttered by his side and the scarlet canopy held over his head.
The enemy was milling around the brave and chivalrous Pratap. Raja Ram Shah of Gwalior and his three sons and the faithful Jhala, taken aback by their beloved Rana venturing so far deep within the enemy's serried columns, were fighting their way in, desperately cutting down every foe they met. Raja Ram Shah, who had enjoyed Pratap's hospitality ever since he had lost Gwalior to the Moghuls, repaid the debt of gratitude in losing his own life and that of his sons in a gallant attempt to save Pratap.
Mana Jhala's responsibility now increased much more. He was probably the only notable leader left by the Rana's side in the midst of the milling enemy. He snatched the saffron standard and canopy from the Rana's attendant and lured the Moghul's wrath to himself. Thus freed from a pressing enemy attack, Rana Pratap made his way straight to Mansingh's elephant. Chetak, the brave steed, urged by its brave rider Pratap sprang like a tiger resting its front hoofs for a moment on the forehead of Mansingh's elephant. Pratap rose in the saddle and lunged forward and aimed a powerful blow of his long spear at Mansingh. The latter ducked to save himself and the spear-blow killed the 'mahout' instead.
By this time Pratap's army had been considerably depleted. The few brave companies around him escorted Pratap out of the milling enemy to enable him to gallop away to safety. But Chetak, the gallant horse, also had a bad cut in the leg inflicted by a dagger held by an enemy elephant in its trunk.
As Pratap rode away, bleeding Chetak seemed to be fainting under him. There came a stream and Chetak somehow crossed it only to slump to the ground bringing a faithful life of service to the master, at its final end. Three of the enemy, who had observed Pratap gallop away, pursued him. As soon as Chetak fell dead, one of the three pursuers cried out at him: "O Neel Ghode ke sawar! (O, the rider of the blue horse! Chetak's color was blue.) The voice sounded like that of a Rajput and had a familiar ring. That Rajput was a little ahead of the other two who were Moghuls from Khorasan and Multan respectively. The Rajput was no other than Sakhat Singh, a brother of Rana Pratap, who had joined the Moghuls.
Near the stream Sakhat Singh's horse stopped . He then waited for the two Moghuls and as soon as they drew abreast, he slew them both. On the other bank of the stream Pratap waited to fight all the three thinking that his brother too was thirsting for his blood. He was pleasantly surprised when Sakhat Singh himself had dispatched the Moghuls to the other world.
Sakhat Singh then crossed the stream, warmly embraced his elder brother and gifted away his own horse to Pratap so that he could get back to safety.
Out of the 20,000 of the Rana's troops only 8,000 survived. The Moghuls lost nearly 40,000 men. That was a superficial victory for Akbar, almost as bad as a defeat.
After a day's rest Mansing passed through the defile and captured Gogunda. About forty warriors and priests under Sri Chand, who put up a resistance, were mercilessly slaughtered. On hearing about the Haldighat fiasco, Akbar flew into a rage. He summoned Mansingh and Asaf Khan. They were reprimanded and forbidden any audience with Akbar.
Pratap now set about to organize an alliance with Rai Narayandas of Idar, Rao Surtan of Sirohi and Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur. Taking advantage of Mansingh's absence, Pratap stormed several Moghul garrisons, checkposts and pickets and put them to flight. Gogunda was retaken.
Akbar now fitted out another army against Pratap. He put it under Raja Bhagwandas this time. Pitting a Hindu against another Hindu was Akbar's well-thought out scheme. If his Hindu ally won, then it was a victory for the Muslim sultan; if he lost, the fault was all the mercenary Hindu's. Bhagwandas attacked Pratap's allies, one by one and made the alliance ineffective. Akbar himself left Ajmer on October 12, 1576 A.D. His main intention was to watch Bhagwandas, if he was not conniving at Pratap's exploits and escapades.
Akbar's own mighty force quickly captured Gogunda, Mohi, Mudaira and Udaipur, one after the other. He stationed strong detachments of his troops at strategic points in Mewar so that Rana Pratap may somehow get caught in his extensive network. But Akbar was sadly mistaken. He had not reckoned with the agility, bravery, patriotism and indefatigable organizing genius of Rana Pratap.
Bhagwandas and Kutubuddin eventually returned to court, tired and worn out with the pursuit. The rigors of this endless campaign was too much for them. Akbar, chafing under his own incompetence, vented his anger on his Rajput mercenaries. Akbar too left the region disgusted and disappointed with his lot. However, while pushing on to Malwa, he did not fail to vent his spleen by devastating Dongarpur and Banswara. And as soon as Akbar was gone, all Rana's allies popped up. Together they started a brilliant campaign of dislodging one Moghul garrison after another. The leaderless Moghul contingents trooped out of Mewar in despair and one by one reported to Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri by September 1577 A.D.
Akbar was then camping at Meerut. The discomfited Akbar ordered another campaign against Pratap. It was 1577 A.D. This time Akbar chose a Muslim. It was Shah Baz Khan who was to lead the army. Being a Mussalman, he was not supposed to show any mercy to the infidel. No mercy to the Hindu temples, no mercy to Hindu men and women or their children. His assistants were Mir Bakhshi, Bhagwandas, Mansingh, Sayad Kasim and Sayyad Hashim. The huge army set out on October 15 but soon asked for reinforcements. The reinforcements were generously provided from Fatehpur Sikri. The reinforcements were provided under the leadership of Ibrahim Fatehpuri, elder brother of fakir Salim Chishti. Soon Shah Baz Khan returned Bhagwandas and Mansingh. The idea was to take the full credit if indeed Pratap could be captured dead or alive.
Like an avalanche Shah Baz Khan descended on Mewar countryside, killing peasants, looting their effects, raping women and so on, the usual paraphernalia of the prophet's creed. A great number of cows were slaughtered and temples turned into mosques. It was an angry work of an insensate devastation by a mad Mussalman.
Kalwara village at the foot of Kumbhalgarh was occupied. The fortress itself was reduced after a siege on April 3, 1578 A.D. when a cannon inside the fort accidentally burst and caused a wide section of the wall to crumble. But Pratap had already left the fort for Rampura and thence to Banswara.
Shah Baz Khan left in hot pursuit but could not catch Pratap. He captured Gogunda and Udaipur instead. He despaired of ever being able to catch Pratap, he devastated Mewar and harassed Durjansal of Bundi. After a futile chase after Rana Pratap, Shah Baz Khan returned empty-handed to Akbar, who was then busy campaigning at Lahore. That was in June 1578 A.D. However, before leaving, Shah Baz Khan had posted 50 Moghul garrisons in Mewar and 30 in the neighboring districts to look out for Rana Pratap.
Pratap's chief minister Bhama Shah had also escaped from Kumbhalgarh with his brother Tarachand. They escaped to Rampura in Malwa where the local chief Rao Durga extended generous hospitality to them.
The two brothers were well trained by Pratap. With great ingenuity, they collected a trusted band of soldiers and set about attacking the treasuries of Malwa Muslim rulers. They thus raised Rs. 25,00,000 and 20,000 gold mohurs. Bhama Shah met Rana Pratap in his forest hide out in Chulia and offered him all that money.
This money was godsend. Pratap raised a new army with the money. He has been moving from place to place to avoid getting arrested by the Moghuls. With the newly raised army, Pratap captured Dibal fort. His brave son, Amar Singh, fought the commander Sultan Khan and killed him in single combat. Pratap and Amar Singh, now worked separately and recaptured a number of forts, towns and posts which had been under Muslim occupation, in a brilliant two pronged campaign.
Though Kumbhagarh was now under Pratap's control, he did not think it to be safe enough. He, therefore, made Chawand his headquarters. There a modest palace was built for him and a temple where the royal deity was installed.
Tarachand stayed back in Malwa. There he happened to face Shah Baz Khan at a place called Bassi. In the fight that ensued Tarachand was defeated and seriously wounded. But the local Hindu chief, Rao Sen, nursed Tarachand back to life. Pratap, a patron of heroes brought Tarachand back to Chawand in all honor.
Shah Baz Khan recaptured Kumbhalgarh and set in pursuit of Pratap. But Pratap was far to agile for the lecherous Mussalman. In order to break the Rajput allies of Muslim power in India, Pratap and his father-in-law Rao Narayandas, jointly attacked Rao Lun Karn of Dongarpur and Rawat Pratap of Banswara.
On December 15, 1578 A.D. Akbar sent another army, again under Shah Baz Khan assisted by Ghazi Khan, Mohammed Hussain, Mir Bar, Shaikh Timur Badakhshi and Mirzada Alikhan. A huge amount looted from the Hindus was also entrusted to Shah Baz Khan for bribing and winning over Hindu traitors.
Shah Baz Khan posted some garrisons and returned to Akbar's camp on June 10, 1579 A.D. During his absence Rao Chandrasen advanced as far as Ajmer. This alarmed Akbar and he sent Shah Baz Khan once again to Mewar. Shah Baz Khan pursued Pratap. At one time the pursuit was quite close. A time came when Pratap could not take his meal on seven successive occasions; every time he sat down to have his meal, news came that the Moghuls were around for him and he had to flee to another hide-out.
Pratap reached Sodha 12 miles from Mount Abu where the local ruler Rai Dul of Loyana not only received Pratap with patriotic hospitality but also gave Pratap his daughter in marriage. The disappointed Shah Baz Khan returned to Akbar's court. This time Shah Baz Khan spread the word that Pratap was now ready to discuss surrender. A young Rajput noble heard this news from Akbar Himself and was so sad that he wrote a poem on this. In his poem, this young man, called Prithviraj, wrote that it was impossible for him to believe that Pratap has offered to surrender; it would be easier for him to believe that the sun was now going to rise in the west instead.
Pratap read the poem the words of which had the strength of ten thousand warriors. He replied and said: "Pratap swears by God Eklinga that he would never submit to the Turk usurper and the Sun would continue to rise in the east. Pratap would be unworthy of Sanga's blood if he were to tolerate alien Akbar's power. Your faith in me, Oh Prithviraj, would remain vindicated."
It was now Dastan Khan, the governor of Ajmer's turn to go to Mewar. But he was wounded in trying to quell the revolt of a disgruntled Kachhwaha chief of Jaipur. He died of the wound on June 17, 1580 A.D.
Then Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan, the new governor of Ajmer was sent to Mewar. He had kept his family at Sherpur and himself was on his mission at Mewar. Pratap's son, the brave Amar Singh, descended on Sherpur and captured Abdur Rahim's entire harem. When Pratap was informed of this, he with his usual Hindu chivalry, returned the whole harem to Abdur Rahim.
Abdur Rahim was so touched by this nobility of the Hindus wrote back to Pratap in gratitude: "In this transitory temporal life where land and wealth is of no avail, virtue alone doth prevail. Pratap alone of all princes of Hind spurning wealth and comfort holds his head high in honor." It is highly doubtful whether the cruel and fanatic Abdur Rahim ever paid this tribute to Pratap or whether those lines were figments of some court flatterer's fiction.
There were a few skirmishes between the Mughal forces of minor nature. On one occasion Pratap had practically fallen in the hands of his enemies but in the end Rana Pratap succeeded in keeping himself out of the clutch of the Moghuls. Akbar could not take it any more. He was fed up. He called it off in 1587 and soon after Pratap started recouping all his lost territory.
Rana Pratap ascended the Sisodia throne at the age of 32. It was the auspicious Holi Festival Day. Akbar fought against him for 11 long years but did not succeed in subduing him. After the abandonment of any more campaigns by Akbar in 1587, Rana Pratap soon regrouped his forces. He started a brilliant campaign in 1589 and uprooted the Muslim garrisons and pickets in Mewar. He reconquered all lost territories except Chittor, Ajmer and Mandal garh.
To teach a good lesson to the Kachhwaha family for betraying the Hindu cause and pawning its virgins and young princes to the Muslims, Pratap invaded Malpura, a very wealthy town 55 miles from Jaipur to plough back the wealth in strengthening battered Hinduism.
Early in January 1597, Rana Pratap pulled a muscle while aiming an arrow in a tiger hunt on the outskirts of the capital Chawand. There he overstrained himself. He waged a colossal war against the Muslims to protect Hinduism and its honor. He finally died on January 19, 1597. He was cremated at Chawand where a modest stone canopy shelters the sacred spot.
Pratap had 15 sons from 11 wives. He had not yet completed his 57th year when he died. His hectic life was full of gnawing worries and extreme hardships. Mourned by entire Hindudom, its hero Rana Pratap had well earned his eternal rest. It was his tenacity and sacrifice which saved many a Rajput woman from being dragged to Muslim harems and proud Rajasthan from being converted en masse to Islam through terror and torture.
During the 11 years that the Moghuls had tried incessantly to hunt down Rana Pratap, he had vowed that he would rather survive on leaves and sleep on grass until he won back Chittor, the ancient Sisodia castle, than give up and become a slave to the Mussalman. He stuck to the vow till his death. The vow is still symbolically kept by his successors by placing some blades of green grass under the royal bed and a few leaves under the princely plate because unfortunately the family never succeeded in winning back Chittor.
Likewise, thousands of Rajput soldier families who had to evacuate the fort, had vowed that they would never settle down to home life until Chittor was recaptured for Hindudom. They still continue to eke out a peripatetic life of extreme poverty as gypsies hammering out and selling a few iron utensils from place to place. These are harrowing reminders of the havoc wrought in India by the medieval Muslimusurpers and their atrocious alien hordes.
The struggle that their ancestor heroes of Hindusthan led by Rana Pratap waged against a brutal and lecherous enemy will for ever inspire sons of Hindusthan through generations, to likewise make their own mothers' milk resplendent.
P.N. OAK, N-128 Greater Kailas 1, New Delhi 14 -The Late Baburao Patel.
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