Maharana Kumbha

maharana,kumbha

99

mokal,kumbhalgarh,khilji,mewar,chittorgarh,udaipur,personality

99

Edit History Discussion

Encyclopedia Of Indian History!


Welcome to Historical India! Historical India is an academic community platform where any enthusiast may join, create and edit articles. Come contribute to this open-source community project and help create an authentic encyclopedia of Indian history. Feel free to publish interesting articles, cite references from the content-rich books, research papers etc., that you read, or just create an article on your favorite historical figure or epoch.


Home

Editor's Search

Library

Documentation Reference


Join Now!

Where to start?

Introduction For Beginners

Ways To Contribute

Noticeboard

Maharana Kumbha


Maharana Kumbha or Kumbhakarna Singh was a fierce warrior, administrator, scholar, poet and the 47th custodian of the House of Mewar. He is credited to have never lost any battle. His 35 years of reign marked the golden period of Mewar. Kumbha was also a devout patron of art, literature and music.

Maharana Kumbha

Portrait of Maharana Kumbha, Fateh Prakash Palace Museum, Chittorgarh

Portrait of Maharana Kumbha, Fateh Prakash Palace Museum, Chittorgarh

Issue Maharana Oodha (Udai Singh I); Maharana Raimal; Rama Baisa
Mother Saubhagyadevi
Relatives Maharani Hansabai (Grandmother)
Kingdom Mewar
Predecessor Maharana Mokal Singh
Father Maharana Mokal Singh
Capital Chittorgarh
Lineage Sisodia branch of the Guhila family line of Rajputs
Successor Maharana Oodha (Udai Singh I)

Maharana Kumbha or Maharana Kumbhakarna Singh was a fierce warrior, administrator, scholar, poet and the 47th custodian of the House of Mewar. He is credited to have never lost any battle in his lifetime. His 35 years of reign is marked by historians as the golden period of Mewar. Kumbha was also a devout patron of art, literature and music.

Maharana Kumbha carried forward the custodianship and legacy of the Sisodiya branch of the Guhila family, administrating the kingdom on behalf of Shri Eklingji. Eminent Historian R.C Majumdar is thoroughly justified in calling him one of the greatest rulers of medieval India who was no inferior to any of his contemporary. [ref] The epithets used for him in various inscriptions are Maharajadhiraj, Rayray, Raneray, Maharana, Rajguru, Danguru, Shailguru, Paramguru, Chapguru, Todarmal, Abhinav-Bharatacharya and Hindu-Surtrana  which indicate at the splendour and magnificence of his reign and achievements which will naturally be focus ahead. [ref]

Maharana Kumbha was the eldest son of Maharana Mokal and his Parmar Queen Saubhagyadevi who was the daughter of Jaitmal Sankhla. [ref] He ascended the throne of Mewar at a tender age in the year 1433 CE upon the assassination of his father. The immediate time period following his coronation was full of turbulence and it is here the story of this brave son of Mewar begins.

Early Reign: The Period of Internal Crisis and Victories 

Maharana Kumbha had to face the immediate grave situations arising from the assassination of his father which had led the states of Bundi, Dungarpur and Sirohi to take an adverse stance against Mewar. [ref] But, the more concerning crisis was within the state where two conflicting power groups were functioning- those of the Sisodiyas and the Rathors. Kumbha’s younger brother Kshema was also trying to topple his authority but had to take shelter in Mandu at the end. 

Kumbha received the very important support from Raav Ranmal of Mandora who was an uncle to the late Rana. With the help of Ranmal, Maharana Kumbha was able to avenge his father’s death when Chacha and Mera who had planned the murder of Rana Mokal were killed in a battle. The third conspirator Mahapa was somehow able to flee to Mandu. Veer Vinod describes how Ranmal was able to subdue the conspirators with the help of the local Bheel tribes.

A threatening twist in the ongoing internal conflict happened just after this episode when enmity was sown between Ranmal and Raghavendra who was a brother of Rana Mokal. Veer Vinod mentions that this enmity began when Raghavendra took the captured womenfolk with him disregarding the orders of Ranmal after the killing of Chacha and Mera. [ref] It was soon when Raghavendra was killed through a plot thatched by Ranmal. This made the internal power struggle even more obvious and visible. The influence of Rathore nexus increased in the court.

After securing the throne with the help of Ranmal, Maharana Kumbha now shifted his focus to the external threats which were present. The first conquest was launched in the year 1436 when the Mewari forces seized back Mandalgarh after defeating the combined Hada forces. Kumbha made further inroads and soon won over Bundi and Khalakhar, though returning the principalities back to the Hadas. [ref] In the same year, an attack was also launched on Saismal Devra of Sirohi who had captured several villages of Mewar after the death of Mokal. [ref] Maharana Kumbha not only won back the villages but also took over the parganas of Ajhari, Pindawara etc. It was during this time that Mahmud Khilji ascended the royal seat of Mandu which led to important political changes. 

The first confrontation between Mewar and Mandu happened in the very next year. Texts like Veer Vinod ascribe a story to this which says that Maharana demanded the extradition of Mahapa Panwar who was in the shelter of Mandu to which Mahmud Khilji refused in plain words. [ref] Following this, Kumbha ordered an expedition to Mandu. Veer Vinod mentions that the army of Maharana had 10,000 infantry and 1400 elephants  but Ojha has doubted on the historicity of this prospectus. [ref]

The armies advanced and clashed at Sarangpur where the Sultan had to flee to Mandu after a fierce battle. Veer Vinod mentions that Mahapa Panwar was forced to leave the fort and Kumbha had reached Mandu in the mean time. After a brief struggle, Mahmud was captured by the Mewari forces and was kept as a hostage for six months. The text further mentions that Maharana freed him after taking tributes. [ref] Ojha and Ram Vallabh Somani refer to an inscription of Jain temple of Ranakpur and a Prashasti of Kumbhalgarh to substantiate the victory of Kumbha in Sarangpur. [ref]

Ram Vallabh Somani points out an unsaid alliance between the Sultanate of Delhi, Gujarat and Mewar for attacking Malwa during a time of succession crisis in which Kumbha had supported a contender named Umar Khan. The Maharana was even given the title of ‘Hindu-Suratan’ by the Sultans of Delhi and Gujarat as mentioned in the Ranakpur Inscription of 1439 AD. [ref] But, he doubts any clear victory over Mandu achieved by Maharana unlike Ojha or Sarda. [ref] Even after these differences in opinions, it is undeniable that an important advantage was gained by Maharana through the battle of Sarangpur.

The expeditions of Kumbha did not stop here, the Maharana soon decided to send an army to Sapadlaksha which was under a relative of Sultan of Gujarat named Firoz Khan. The exact year of this attack isn’t clear but the territories won in this mission are mentioned in the Ranakpur Inscription of 1439 CE. Therefore, it must have taken between 1437 and 1439 CE most probably after the battle of Sarangpur. Kumbha won over important territories like those of Ajmer, Sambhar, Khatu and Chatasu. He returned the territories back to the Sultan only after extracting a heavy toll from him. [ref] It was after this battle the construction of the renowned Kirtistambha or Jaystambha was initiated in 1439 CE  by Maharana to commemorate his victory over the Sultan. The Kirtistambha, which was completed in 1448 CE  stands even today with full pride and prestige and recites the story of its great patron. [ref]

The eventful period of the first seven years of Maharana Kumbha’s reign ended with another crucial event which put an end to the long going internal tug of war in the court of Mewar. Ranmal as discussed above had expanded his domination in the politics of Mewar and had got Raghavendra killed.  

Situations began to change when Mahapa Panwar and Ekka- the son of Chacha presented themselves in front of Maharana who forgave them for their wrongdoing; much to the resentment of Ranmal. Veer Vinod records that one day when Maharana asked a weeping Ekka the reason for crying, he pointed out at the Rathore domination in the court which did grow the already present suspicion in the heart of Kumbha. This got evidenced by an incident recited to Kumbha’s mother by her trustworthy servant Bharmali which made the intentions of Ranmal totally clear. [ref]

When coming to know about the lurking danger, Kumbha consulted his mother and sent a letter to Ravat Chunda who was living in his jagir in Mandu at. Chunda wasted no time in coming to the rescue of Maharana despite continuous opposition from Ranmal. A plan was soon formulated and Ranmal was assassinated while he was unconscious from excessive drinking. [ref]

Jodha and other sons of Ranmal were forced to run for their lives and were chased by Chunda who captured Mandovar and stationed Mewari troops there under the surveillance of his sons. [ref] The khyats of Mewar mention that Jodha was later on able to seize Mandovar with an indirect support of Kumbha himself upon persuasions from his grandmother Hansabai. [ref]

Thus, the first seven years of Kumbha’s reign had already made him the most powerful Rajput ruler of his time. Maharana had won over several territories through his valour, leadership and strategic capabilities. All the territories won over in and victories achieved this time period are mentioned in the Inscription of Ranakpur Jain Temple date 1439 CE. [ref] Ojha also mentions that the area of Gagraun and Mandalgarh was also included in the borders of Mewar in the year 1439 or even before that. [ref]

An Era of Struggles: Battles with Mahmud Khilji 

The defeat inflicted by Maharana Kumbha had been a fresh wound for Mahmud Khilji- the Sultan of Mandu who was unable to bear the ever-growing influence and power of the Maharana who had in the mean time also strengthened his position in the region of Kanthal. Therefore he launched an invasion in the year 1442 CE which was beginning of a long-drawn bloody struggle between the two forces. 

Sultan crossed the borders of Mewar and reached Kelwara which was on the foothills of the Kumbhalgarh. The first thing he ordered was the demolition of the temple of Banmata situated in a fortification where according to Ojha, the weaponries were also kept. [ref] The Rajputs gave a valiant resistance but the armies of the Sultan were able to demolish the temple and destroy all the idols present in the temple. In the meantime, Kumbha had moved to Chittaur and was attacking the areas proximate to Mandu. The Sultan was forced to rush to Chittaur and he gave the charge of the stations at Kanthal and Mandsaur to his father. Before he could do anything at Chittaur, his father Ajam Humayun passed away. Struck with tragedy, he left for Mandsaur leaving the mission in between. Kumbha attacked the retreating forces with a cavalry of 10,000 and infantry of 25,000 and caused further damage. [ref]

The Sultan decided to march once again in 1444 CE but limited the invasion to the conquest of Khichiwara which was recently won by Kumbha. The army of Mahmud Khilji reached Gagraun and began launching attacks on the fort. The Rajputs offered valiant resistance for a week but decided to sacrifice their lives after their commander was martyred. The Rajput women performed the Jauhar   and gave yet another example of unequalled sacrifice.  In the same year, Mahmud also decided to lead a mission for capturing the fort of Mandalgarh which he wanted to bring under his territory. The armies of Malwa were given brilliant match by the Rajputs who did not yield even an inch of land to the invading forces. The unwavering resistance from the Rajput armies stationed at the fort meant that Mahmud had to return back unsuccessful. [ref]

The next war-scale confrontation between Maharana Kumbha and Mahmud Khilji occurred in 1446 CE when Mahmud once again marched towards Mandalgarh. According to Veer Vinod, the armies of Mewar stormed out of fort for an offence when the armies of Malwa were crossing the Banas River. The battle continued for three days and the Sultan was once again forced to accept the ignominy. [ref] Persian chronicles have tried to veil the defeat of the Sultan similar to their descriptions of the previously occurred battles but are unsuccessful in refuting the victory of Mewar.

The frequent attacks from the side of Malwa led Kumbha to focus on the protection of the borders not only from any threat from Malwa but Gujarat too. He decided to attack Abu which was spared in the previous expedition to Sirohi in the initial phase of his reign. An army under the leadership of Dodiya Narsingh defeated the Devra rulers and expanded the borders of Mewar in 1447 CE.   The Sultan on the other hand was continuously attempting to bring the parts of eastern Rajasthan in his control. Therefore, he marched to Hadoti in 1452 CE to subdue the chieftains and was able to take control of the place.

Another confrontation became inevitable when Maharana Kumbha recaptured the areas of Ranthambore and Toda Bhim in 1454 CE while Mahmud was indulged in affairs of South Malwa. This infuriated the already grudged Sultan who decided for another struggle. This time he sent his prince Gayasuddin to Ranthambore and himself went to Chittaur so that no reinforcements could be sent to Ranthambore. This tactic proved to be successful as Gayasuddin was able to take back majority of the area apart from the fort. Persian chronicles mention that Kumbha offered peshkash to the Sultan which was refused by him. Veer Vinod suggests that this confrontation ended in a stalemate without the actual fulfilment of the objective of the Sultan.

A major battle occurred in the following year when the Sultan decided to invade Mandalgarh in 1455. He sent his son Gayasuddin to Mandsaur and went to Ajmer for winning the fort. Gajadhar who was the commander-in-charge of the fort fought valiantly for four days but ultimately was martyred. Jauhar was performed and the fort went to Sultan. Mahmud quickly went to Mandalgarh where the Maharana was already prepared for the battlefield. When the armies of Malwa reached the shores of Banas, the Rajputs charged out from the fort and assaulted their enemies. The invading army had to bear such losses within a day that Sultan was urged to retreat by his chieftains. Even though the Persian chroniclers like Firishta fabricate a reasoning of rainy season but it is undeniable that the Sultan was handed a crushing defeat

Soon after the victory over the army of Malwa, Kumbha was indulged with the principality of Nagaur where a succession war had taken place. Shams Khan, a contender of the throne had taken refuge in the court of Mewar. Maharana agreed to help Shams Khan in this struggle for throne but placed one condition in front of Shams Khan- that he had to demolish one portion of the fortification to show his allegiance to Mewar. This was agreed by the ever desperate contender and the armies of Mewar took over Nagaur in no time.

The intentions of Shams Khan changed quickly who now refused to comply with the condition put forth by Maharana. Seeing a campaign by Kumbha, Shams Khan took shelter in the court of Sultan of Gujarat and married his daughter to him. In the meantime, Maharana had captured the fort of Nagaur. A large number of army was sent by the Sultan of Gujarat to help Shams Khan re-achieve the fort. The Rajput armies came out in the open and handed a severe defeat to the Gujarati army in a bloody struggle. A contemporary inscription notes that ‘‘In complete disregard of the ruler of Gujarat Kumbha captured Nagor (Nagaur)”. Gujarat which was a potential danger for Mewar would now come in direct confrontations.

Gujarat and Malwa

The Sultan of Gujarat, Kutubuddin decided to avenge the ignominy caused by the defeat in Nagaur who decided to march against Mewar. This campaign marked the beginning of the most difficult period in the life of Kumbha which would last till 1459. How the Sun of Sisodiya clan overcame the challenges and overcame the hazy clouds is a story worth telling.

Kutubuddin was received by the Dewra chief who pleaded to restore his power over Abu. Therefore, the Sultan sent an army with the Dewra chief and continued his march to Sirohi which was won over by him. In the mean time, the army sent to the conquest of Abu were defeated badly.  When Sultan came to know of the defeat, he left a part of the army to ruin the area of Godwad and to demolish the temples. Upon reaching Kumbhalgarh, the armies of Gujarat were attacked by Kumbha and Kutubuddin was forced to retreat back to Ahmadabad without any success.

Mahmud of Khilji on the other hand, was not dormant. Taking the advantage of the situation of Maharana, he led another expedition to Mandalgarh in December 1456 and won the fort this time due to his excellent strategies and planning. He dispatched two armies towards Bundi and Kumbhalgarh and moved in the direction of Chittaur. Maharana was completely engrossed in the battle with Gujarat and hence could not send reinforcements. But, he was able to take back the fort just after the departure of Mahmud.

It is often said that the foe of a foe is a friend indeed. The same approach was taken by the Sultanates of Malwa and Gujarat who were not able to bear the ever-rising prowess of Maharana Kumbha. Therefore, an alliance was decided in 1456 under which the regions of Godwad and southern Mewar were to be taken by Gujarat whereas the regions of central Mewar, Ajmer etc would be acquired by Malwa.

In 1457 CE, the two kingdoms launched their joint attack against Mewar. Kutubuddin began an expedition and reached Kumbhalgarh. Kumbha who wanted to confront the Malwa armies first was forced to give a battle to the Gujarati army but the Mewari armies were defeated on the first day and they had to retreat to the hillocks. Veer Vinod mentions that the Mewari armies made significant gains in the battle of next day whereas Tarikhi Firishta says that Kumbha offered tributes and gifts to avoid the war. The campaign of the Sultan of Malwa was also called off.

Maharana Kumbha attacked Nagaur once again in 1458 CE with an army of 1458 CE and was able to capture it. The news reached till Sultan who was in no position to take a decision due to debauchery. It took a month for the armies of Sultan to reach Nagaur and Maharana had left the fort by then. Sultan had to contend himself with plundering of the nearby areas.

Kutubuddin launched another attack on Kumbhalgarh and won over Sirohi. He was not able to make any inroads in Kumbhalgarh. He decided to retreat upon realising his inability to win the almost irreproachable fort of Kumbhalgarh.

Mahmud invaded Mewar in yet another attempt in 1459 CE but was soon forced to abort the mission without any success. The turbulent and war logged time period was over for Kumbha and Mewar and no further invasions were made by either Gujarat or Malwa apart from one more invasion from Mahmud in 1467 CE which met with the same fate. Maharana had laid futile one more expedition of Sultan Mahmud.

R.C Majumdar points at the lack of any detailed description of these continuous struggles in the contemporary inscriptions which lead to an incomplete picture in front of us. He points out at the Kumbhalgarh Inscription of 1460 CE which only says that “Kumbha churned the ocean-like armies of the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat.”

Therefore, the three difficult years which saw continuous battles on multiple fronts and regular threats on Mewar were negated by the successful strategies and warfare of Maharana Kumbha who brought even more glory and success to his motherland.  The vicious forces of Gujarat and Malwa were defeated in their attempts to malign the staff of Sisodiya clan.

Aftermath

The Kumbhalgarh Prashasti of Vikram Samvat 1517 describes several other victories achieved by Maharana Kumbha. Several names like Malaran, Seehor, Ranthambore, Amber and Dungarpur are mentioned in the inscription in probably their sanskritized forms according to G.C Ojha.

The end of Maharana’s life is a tragic contrast to the extra-ordinary life led by him. The khyat of Nensi mentions that Kumbha became insane in the last days of his life and Veer Vinod mentions a story regarding the same. The great Maharana was treacherously murdered by his son Udaya who was blinded by the greed for throne. He attacked his father with a dagger while Maharana was seated by the side of a tank in Kumbhalgarh and put an end to the life of one of the greatest sons of Mewar. The treacherous Udaya was not able to enjoy the throne for long and was soon dethroned. Raymala became the next ruler of Mewar who was the father of the famous Maharana Sangram Singh also known as Maharana Sanga.

Patron of Art & Culture

The dominant bias in history writing of India often tries to depict the Rajput rulers as war-indulged chieftains devoid of cultural nuances and sophistications; and use this image in contrast with the Sultanate and Mughal rulers who were the supposed patrons of art, culture and sophisticated activities. The life and works of Maharana Kumbha is a strong refutation of any such bias and is the perfect representation of the cultural progress made during the reigns of Rajput rulers, in particular the ones of Mewar.

It would be appropriate to quote R.C Majumdar -

“The most astonishing feature of his life (Maharana Kumbha) was that though more than two-thirds of his reign were spent in warfare, lie could still find time to devote to the cultivation of arts and literature as well. The erroneous belief that the Rajput ruler was a mere fighting animal is sure to be dispelled by a clear appreciation of this aspect of his achievements.”

Architecture

The reign of Kumbha saw spectacular architectural progress in Mewar. Out of the eighty-four forts present in Mewar, thirty-two were built by Kumbha alone; majorly due to strategic and security concerns. Some of the most important architectural achievements of Maharana Kumbha deserve a brief description here.

Chittorgarh

The fort of Chittorgarh was damaged to a great extent during the invasion & first siege by Allauddin Khilji and several temples located within were in a razed condition. Maharana Kumbha continued to work of renovation of Chittorgarh and constructed roadways for chariots which were not present before. He also constructed various gates in the fort like Rampol, Hanumanpol and Bhairavpol to name a few. The renowned Kirtistambh was also erected here in Chittorgarh in 1448 CE which has nine storeys and 127 staircases. Fergusson has believed it to be superior to the Qutub Minar. New temples such as those of Kumbhaswami and Aadivaraha were also built.

Kumbhalgarh

The grand bastion prepared by the Maharana stands in full glory even today and is an architectural marvel. The fort was built on the ruins of a fort called Macchindrapura. The lower part of the fort is full of various temples and religious structures.

Ekling Ji

The shrine of Ekling Ji has been among the most important religious places for the traditions of Mewar and the enthroned Rana is referred to as the ‘Deevan’ or the secretary of Eklingnath Ji. The ancient temple of Ekling Ji was renovated by Maharana Kumbha and a ‘mandapa’ named ‘Kumbhamandapa’ was also constructed. 

During the reign of Maharana Kumbha, the marvellous Jain temples of Ranakpur and Achalgarh were also constructed which themselves suffice the zenith of architectural development in Mewar at that time. Even though these temple were built by private individuals, they must have received full support from the State which is evident in the remittance of several taxes in the area of Abu by Kumbha and which is recorded in his inscription of 1506 Vikram Era at the Delwara Temples.

Scholar

A famous Sanskrit proverb says that what the king is, the same are his subjects. Similarly, the unprecedented prosperity in art culture and literature wasn’t brought by the patronage of Maharana alone. The fierce warrior, who had given nightmares to his enemies from his extravagant valour, was an equally proficient scholar etching his name in history for the contributions he made to literature and music.

A manuscript titled ‘Eklingamahatmya’ mentions that Kumbha held expertise in Vedas, Smritis, Mimamasas, Upanishadas and other fields. He prepared a commentary on Jayadeva’s Geetagovinda under the title ‘Rasikpriya’ and an explanation of Chandishatakam. A much esteemed work on ancient Indian music titled ‘Sangitraj’ is also mentioned under his authorship in the Kirtistambh inscription but historians doubt whether it was actually written by Kumbha. He had immense knowledge of dramatics and music which is reflected in his works like ‘Sangeetaraga’, ‘Sangeetamimamsa’ and ‘Suraprabandha’. He even wrote four dramas in four different languages including Maharashtri, Karnati and Mewari. Such was the popularity of the scholarship of Kumbha that he was called ‘Navya-Bharat (Abhinav-Bharatacharya).

A commentary on ‘Sangeetratnakar’ was also authored by him. His writing proficiency included several ‘stutis’ for various deities in numerous ragas and talas which are compiled in the chapter ‘Raagvarnan’ of ‘Eklingamahatmya’. According to Ojha, Kumbha had also prepared a treatise on the construction of Kirtistambhas and had placed it in the exterior portions of his Kirtistambha after getting it inscribes on stones. A beginning part of the same was discovered by Ojha who preserved it in Victoria Hall, Udaipur.

Maharana Kumbha was an equally great patron of scholars due to which a number of significant works and treatises were composed in his times and several scholars flourished in Mewar.  Some notable names are the likes of Mahesh, Sutradhar Mandan and Kanha Vyas. Sutradhar Mandan had written several books on ancient traditions of arts and architecture.

Contributions to Hindustani Classical Music

The 15th and 16th centuries witnessed the flowering of the Hindustani Classical musical tradition in North India; by this time Carnatic music had also acquired a very prominent status in South India, thus leading to a degree of divergence in the musical paradigm. Nonetheless, both these traditions continue to flow into each other at multiple levels. Music has a very special position in the history of Mewar, as it was harnessed for boosting the morale of soldiers and infusing a sentiment of valour and supreme sacrifice on the battlefields, through the chaarans or bhats. [ref]

Maharana Kumbha, known moreso for his indubitable valour, was also a devout patron of art, literature and music. We have a significant number of records that reveal his taste for literature and proficiency in music. In his time, he was considered a leading authority on the science of music, with a technical prowess that almost approximated that of a professional musicologist.

Perhaps his most salient contribution to the world of music is the ‘Sangitaraj’ which is an exposition on the fundamentals of ancient Indian music. It consists of over 16000 shlokas or couplets. He completed the composition of this text in 1509 at Chittor. The Kirtistambh inscription and the Ekalinga Mahatmya point to an association between this text and the Maharana. However, scholars have suggested that it may actually have been composed by a South Indian pandit who would have returned to the court of a certain Kalasena, who is believed to have been none other than Maharana Kumbha. [ref]

The ‘Sangitaraj’ captures the Maharana’s mastery over several dimensions of music, reflecting his intellectual background in the smritis, Yoga, Vedanta, grammar, upanishads and all classical literary and musical traditions. It is divided into 5 parts, also called Ratnakoshas. These are path-ratnakosh, geet ratnakosh, vaadya ratnakosh, nritya ratnakosh and Rasa Ratnakosha.[ref] Each of the chapters has four divisions called parikshanas. In this work, he very meticulously examines Matanga’s ‘Dvadasa Svara-Murachana’, which amounts to a re-configuration of a number of theories relating to Sangita-shastras. This was a monumental task in itself as Rishi Matanga has been recognised as the author of the ‘Brihat-deshi’- one of the earliest extant texts on Indian classical music. He cites Rishi Matanga several times in the context of Ragadhyanas. [ref]

While he didn’t hesitate to challenge the propositions of such eminent saints, he maintained unflinching respect for all these authorities. This fine balance between incisive criticism and humility is an intellectual legacy that he bequeathed through his illustrious intellectual career.

He is known for facilitating the codification and classification of ‘prabandh gayan’, one of the purest forms of classical music tracing its roots to the ancient Vedic ethos. The word prabandh in its expanded sense means ‘prakshena bandhanath’ or ‘a song bounded by a framework of rules’. The Dhrupad genre is one of the most significant genres in classical music, known for the way it blends many microtonal scales. [ref] The very form and concept of Dhrupad is rooted in Vedic traditions, and Maharana Kumbha played a stellar role in reigniting its effervescence. He classified its prabandh gayan into five parts-, Dhruv, Melpak, Udgrah, Antara and Aabhog. He also embellished the prabandh with 6 angs (facets) to help a musician plumb the depths of various notes while singing Dhrupad. Today, four angs have been recognised, namely Raagalapati, Prabandh Geet, Laybaat and Bol-Baat. [ref]

Maharana Kumbha also wrote a commentary on Sangitaratnakara, which had been composed by Sharangdeva, a text that encompasses all three realms of music- oral, instrumental and dance. It contains the scholarship of all earlier acharyas, and is one treatise that has been subjected to a lot of oral and written criticism. Besides this, Maharana Kumbha wrote many other works on music including ‘Sangitraaj’, ‘Sangeetmimamsa’ and ‘Sutraprabandha’. [ref]

Thus, Maharana Kumbha contributed immensely to the field of classical music, over and above his stellar victories on the battlefields. It is thus befitting that many texts and inscriptions confer on him the title of ‘Sangit Shiromani’. His own daughter Rama Baisa is known to have inherited this taste for music, as she too was conversant with the Sangita-shastras.

Legacy

Kumbha was one of the greatest rulers of medieval India. When the records of his reign that lie scattered in more than sixty inscriptions and many other sources have been fully worked out  into a comprehensive and connected account, Kumbha will be found to occupy a place in no way inferior to the greatest of the contemporary sovereigns, Hindu or Muslim.

- Dr. R. C. Majumdar [ref]

The venerable House of Mewar has been glorified by the countless actions of greatness by its numerous sons and daughters and whenever one will go through the pages of history getting fascinated by the Annals of Mewar, the name of Maharana Kumbhakarna or Kumbha Singh will forever continue to inspire and astound them.

It remains beyond doubt that Maharana Kumbha was one of the greatest rulers in the long and luminous history of Mewar and one of the most successful and significant rulers of medieval India. He ascended the throne in a time when the goo-political situations of India were changing at a rapid pace and the Sultanates were gaining stronger holds in various parts of India. His coronation at a tender age was caused due to the sudden assassination of his father which causes the rise of threatening situations at both the internal and external fronts. Kumbha fared well and safe in the initial years and even scored some major victories too; albeit with the help of Raav Ranmal. After carefully uprooting all the threats from the internal front, Maharana focused on the protection and enhancement of the glory of his motherland and led the state of Mewar to newer heights and advents. The thirty-six years of his reign are certainly one of the most prosperous eras in Mewar.

For a large part of his reign, Maharana Kumbha was indulged in continuous wars with the Sultanate of Malwa and even with Gujarat after 1456 who found Mewar as the major obstacle in their ambitions of gaining political power. Maharana not only overcame unfavourable situations with his sheer bravery and equally potent tactics but was also able to strengthen the prestige and power of Mewar which are true indicators of a capable warrior and ruler. The continuous attempts of the invading forces to dismantle the throne of Sisodiyas and to lower the flag of Mewar were crushed by the Maharana. The erroneous and indeed biased perception to project Indian states, especially the Rajput principalities on always the losing side is hollowed by the achievements of Maharana Kumbha who made Mewar arguably equal in power to any other principal dynasty ruling at that time.

The extraordinary personality of Kumbha is seen not only in his military but scholarly and cultural achievements. He was truly a man of letters with immense creative and scholarly capabilities. These achievements become even larger in the backdrop of regular battles which Mewar had to face. The architectural development which took place at that time is another noteworthy advancement of the reign of Maharana.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the legacy of Maharana Kumbha will keep on living as that of valour, patriotism and cultural glory. His victories and achievements will continue to inspire every patriotic mind and will fill the hearts of people with a sense of pride, dedication and honour towards their motherland Bharat.   

Recommended Articles

Articles you might like to read


historical_india_footer_logo

We are a group of patriots who love our motherland - Bharat Mata! Historical India is an opensource community based project dedicated to the history of Greater India. Join us to create the encyclopedia of Indian history...


Copyright©2021 All Rights Reserved by Historical India