Maharana of Mewar
|Successor||Maharana Jai Singh|
|Predecessor||Maharana Jagat Singh I|
|Lineage||Rajput Sisodia of Mewar|
|Date of Accession||1653 CE|
|Father||Maharana Jagat Singh I|
|Reign||1653 CE - 1680 CE|
Born in 1629, Maharana Raj Singh became ruler of Mewar in 1652. It was Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar, who had recovered the idol of Shri Nath Ji from Agra and installed them at the Aravali Hills, and fought tooth and claw with barbaric Mughals to protect the prestige and honour of our ancient civilization.
Rajputana history has profusely produced great warriors who have been praised in the ballads and folklores since long. There are various sagas of courage, glory and independence infused within the Rajputana spirit, but amidst these battles of freedom and respect are some famous legends attached with the Mewar soil.
Raj Singh succeeded to the throne on 10th October, 1652 A.D. with plan to raise the status of Mewar. His character and confidence were worthy of men destined to leave an impression on many succeeding ages. To begin with, he, in pursuance of his father's policy hastened to complete the repairs of the walls of Chittorgarh so as to put it in proper defensive position. He gave shelter and protection to Garib Das, a fugitive prince of his house who had absconded from the court of Shah Jahan. [ref]
He was a contemporary of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Maharaja Chhatrasalji of Bundelkhand and Vir Durgadas Rathore. Opposed to the systematic destruction of Hinduism in general, these giant men individually stood up in their respective kingdoms to defend their mother land against the tyranny of Aurangzeb.
He reigned from 10th October, 1652 A. D. to 22nd October, 1680 A. D. Maharana Raj Singh opposed Aurangzeb multiple times, once to save the honor of the Kishangarh princess Charumati from the Mughals and once by denouncing the Jaziya tax levied by Aurangzeb. Even Shivaji Maharaj was in awe of his valour and braveness and his exploits are recounted till this day. Rajputs led by Durgadas Rathore and Maharana Raj Singh defeated the Mughal contingents brutally in the battle of Udaipur and Aravalli hills (1680).
The Mughal War of Succession & Mewar
Shah Jahan fell ill in Sept. 1657. It was a signal for war among his four sons, each one of whom was already hatching plans to seize the throne for himself. The entire energy of the central government headed by Dara was utilised to thwart the plans of his three brothers, Shuja, Murad and Aurangzib. At this juncture Aurangzib, the cleverest of all his brothers began his correspondence with Rana Raj Singh and sought to establish cordial relations with the Rana by means of exchange of presents and rewards. This correspondence throws a flood’oflight on Aurangzeb’s design to seize the throne by seeking Rajput assistance from Mewar. It also shows the attitude of Raj Singh towards the war of succession.
- In one of the letters, which he (Aurangzib) wrote about Feb. 1658 A. D. when he was about to proceed towards the north, that he expected the arrival of Mewar contingent under Udni Karan Chauhan and Shankar. [ref] He sought the Maharana’s goodwill towards the Mughals.
- In another letter, he insisted on the Rana’s reply for his message which he had sent with one of his trusted officers. He also sent a robe of honour and jewelled ring for the Rana. [ref]
- In the third letter of about March, Aurangzib again requested for a Rajput contingent. He showed sympathy to the Rana's demand for the border territories of which Mewar had been deprived by the treaty. [ref]
- In the fourth letter which he wrote about the end of March, 1658 A. D. he requested that the Mcwar crown prince should be sent to join him on the other banks of die river Narbada. [ref]
Thcse letters clearly show that Aurangzib wanted to secure Raj Singh’s support while Dara had Jaipur and Jodhpur on his side. Raj Singh, it appears did not give any help to Aurangzib directly, but kept him in good humour by sending envoys without definitely promising him any assistance. He wanted to grind his own axe if Aurangzib would become the emperor by requesting the restoration of Pur, Mandal, Badnor etc.,the border land of Mewar which was in the Mughal possession.
In April, 1658 Aurangzib wrote to Raj Singh informing him about his successfully advancing beyond the river Narbada and demanded that the Rana’s prince should be sent to join without any further delay. A great trial of strengdi was expected. Dara was to go to meet the enemy with all his strength and Aurangzib was preparing to fight the imperial forces. But Raj Singh was in doubt about the issue of die contest among the Mughal princes.
Instead of agreeing to commit himself and joining Aurangzeb at this stage, he tried to seize the border parganas of Mewar. which were in Mughal hands. Under the veil of conducting the ceremony of Tikadar, a hunting expedidon in the enemies’ land, he marched with all speed and strength on 2nd May, 1658 A.D. against the Mughal outposts. Dariba was the first place which received the Rana’s successful blow. Mandal was die next target which yielded Rs. 22,000. [ref] [ref]
The Tikadar signifies the foray of inauguration. It is a custom that has been observed from time immemorial and is still maintained where any semblance of hostility affords an opportunity for its practice. On the morning of the installation, having received the tíka of sovereignty, the prince at the head of his retainers makes a foray into the territory of anyone with whom he may have a feud, or with whom he may be indifferent as to exciting one; he captures a stronghold or plunders a town, and returns with the trophies. If amity should prevail all around, a mock representation of the custom takes place. [ref]
Contentions with Aurangzeb
Protecting Hindu princess Charumati
Problems cropped up after Shah Jahan’s death. His son, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, was smitten by the princess of Kishangarh, Rani Charumati and wanted to marry her. Charumati rejected his proposal, with her characteristic pride, and requested Maharana Raj Singh to protect her honour. Though this meant dishonouring the imperial Mughal Empire and going against him; Maharana Raj Singh being a true Rajput married her in order to protect and uphold her dignity. The furious Aurangzeb, subsequently sent his army to defeat Raj Singh and bring Rani Charumati to him but was not successful.
Ranaji - Protector of Hindu Temples
Aurangzeb accumulated on his head more crimes than any prince who ever sat on an Asiatic throne. After his grand Coronation (June 1659), he issued a number of ordinances to enforce Islamic rule of conduct in his dominions. On 9th April, 1669 he issued a general order to demolish temples and destroy schools and idols of the Hindus. Raj Singh took up the cause of Hindus and defied the orders of Aurangzeb at this stage. In the month of Ramzan in 1670, after plundering Mathura, Aurangzeb destroyed the great temple Keshav Dev Rai, one of the magnificent temples ever built in India. And a mosque known as Idgah was built on its site. This is how he displayed strength of his faith. Even more disturbing and disgraceful was the idols were carried to Agra to be buried under the steps of Jahanara’s mosque. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad.
When the priest of Shri Nath Ji Temple reached to Rajputana (Present Day Rajasthan) pleading to recover idols, no ruler could dare to oppose Aurangzeb, who was considered to be most brutal ruler in the Asia. A disheartened priest reached to court of Maharana Raj with distress call . Without thinking twice Maharana Raj Singh roared -
“Aurangzeb cannot touch the idols of Shri Nath Ji, until he trampled over the bodies of one lakh brave Rajput warriors.”
- Maharana Raj Singh ji
Maharana Raj Singh recovered the idols of Shri Nath Ji, a seven years old infant incarnation of Lord Krishna and installed it at Aravali hills on the banks of Banas River in Nathdwara in 1672. Nathdwara, which means Gateway to Shri Nath Ji (God), is a famous pilgrimage place in Rajasthan, today.
Enraged Aurangzeb reimposed the Jaziya on the Hindus on the 2nd April, 1679 A.D. The Rana sent a letter of protest to Aurangzeb against the reimposition of Jaziya on Hindus and he joined hands with Rathore of Jodhpur.
Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, his contemporary from the Deccan, respected Maharana Raj Singh ji to the extent that when Jaziya was imposed, he wrote a letter to Aurangzeb in protest and taunted Aurangzeb, asking him to first collect the coomunal tax from the Maharana, who he regarded as the Head of the Hindus alike him.
To the Emperor Alamgir —"This firm and constant...........Apart from its injustice, this imposition of the jaziya is an innovation in India and inexpedient. If you imagine piety to consist in oppressing the people and terrorizing the Hindus, you ought first to levy the jaziya from Rana Raj Singh, who is the head of the Hindus. Then it will not be so very difficult to collect it from me.......But to oppress ants and flies is far from displaying valour and spirit.........."- Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj[letter drafted by Nila Prabhu, the Persian Secretary (Parasnis) of Shivaji Maharaj] [ref]
Battle of Udaipur and the Aravallis
In 1680, Aurangzeb attacked Mewar, result of which, multiple battles took place in Aravalli region, major being battle of Udaipur. While Aurangzeb plundered the city of Udaipur destroying temples & forts, eventually, Rana Raj Singh of Mewar and Durga Das Rathore were able to defeat the enemy. Maharana Raj Singh safely escorted his citizens to the Aravali Hills, but he could not protect several villages and temples, which were burnt and destroyed by Aurangzeb’s General, Taj Khan. The formidable battle between Aurangzeb and Maharana Raj Singh continued for months In the second half of 1680, after several months of such setbacks, Aurangzeb decided on an all-out offensive. Three separate armies under Aurangzeb's sons Akbar, Azam and Muazzam penetrated the Aravalli hills from different directions. However, their artillery lost its effectiveness and were defeated by Rajput forces. It was Maharana Raj Singh’s Guerrilla Warfare, which forced Aurangzeb’s troops to retreat.
As a skilful general and gallant soldier, Maharaja Ráj Singh was an extraordinary soul who purified the blood ridden soil of India . The manner in which, in spite of all consequences, he espoused the cause of the Márwár princess, places him in the highest rank of chivalry; while his dignified letter of remonstrance to Aurangzeb on the promulgation of the jezia affords a striking proof of his moral and intellectual greatness. As a true patriot and son of his motherland, throughout his lifetime, he never left his roots and identity unlike other opportunistic rulers and remained a icon for generations and inspired people to resist the barbaric rule of Mughals.