Maharana Pratap: A story every Indian child must know!
Posted on: May 30, 2018.

Mewar Rajputana was an ancient Rajput kingdom in the region that is today known as Rajasthan, ruled by “Maharana” Pratap Singh—the moral embodiment of Rajput valour, gallantry and diligence, and a legend narrated from one generation to the next—who was one of the greatest warriors in the indigenous history of ancient India, yet lesser known as most historical heroes.

This year is the 478th birth anniversary of the legendary king of Mewar who was born on 9 May 1540 at Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajasthan and lived till 29 January 1597. The Mughals had invaded India, and under the rule of Emperor Akbar “The Great”, most Rajput kingdoms had succumbed to the Mughals. By the time Maharana Pratap was born, the Mughals had occupied much of North India.

He was the lone crusader against Mughal supremacy in India and fiercely defended the heritage and freedom of Mewar, fighting for it all his life. He faced the opposition face-to-face successfully defending his kingdom in many a battle before beginning to lose ground in the Battle of Haldighati against Akbar. Rana Pratap continued to fight till the end, valiantly attempting to eliminate the Mughal occupation of Chittor Fort, the heritage of Mewar, and to keep their proud tradition of freedom alive.

Earlier, Akbar had made several offers of peace—a life of comfort and luxury in exchange for freedom—all of which Pratap declined. Akbar was eventually angered when Amar Singh, Pratap’s son, presented himself in the Mughal court and declined Akbar’s peace treaty. Thus, the Battle of Haldighati was fought on 18 June 1576. A badly outnumbered Rajput army of 22,000 warriors lead by Maharana Pratap fearlessly confronted a massive Mughal army of 200,000 warriors led by two commanders.

Significant points from the life of Maharana Pratap…

At a very young age, Pratap subjected himself to the hardships of martial arts training and weapon-fighting—a responsibility towards the safety of Mewar that he sensed even as a kid. Eventually, he became the brightest and strongest among the princes, and exceeded the expectations of even the Rajput royals who had a lot of expectations riding high on the promising young boy.

Maharana Pratap was 7 feet and 5 inches tall and weighed around 110 kilograms. He wore an armour that weighed 72 kilos and carried a spear that weighed 80 kilos and two heavy swords—in full battle dress, Pratap would weight around 208 kilos in total!

He firmly stood by his principle to only face his enemies upfront and on the battlefield, never by stealth or treachery. In one incident, the Mewar troops could have easily ambushed Raja Man Singh, a Rajput King but a Mughal commander, who was out on a hunt, but Pratap is said to have resisted the temptation and remarked that he preferred to face his opponents face-to-face on the battleground.

Another of Pratap’s strong principle was to uphold the dignity of women. Amar Singh, Maharana Pratap’s son and heir imminent, had taken some Muslim women as trophy hostages after a battle, but the great Rana had rebuked his son for doing so, and subsequently freed the women and had them sent home with dignity.

Despite fighting with vigour in the Battle of Haldighati, yet badly outnumbered, Maharana Pratap and his heroic army could not defeat the far better equipped and powerful Mughal army, but won praise and admiration from the Mughal forces for their bold efforts, despite being rivals!

There is a moral lesson to learn and admire about in even Pratap’s horse, Chetak—a lesson in ultimate sacrifice… of one’s life to save another. After being mortally injured in the Battle of Haldighati, Rana Pratap fled on horseback. On the way, however, Chetak had to jump across a wide moat while carrying the injured Pratap on his back. It was Chetak’s loyalty to Pratap that saved his life. Chetak strained himself and managed the “Leap of Life” to cross the moat, but with only his front legs clinging to the edge of the moat, the faithful horse successfully helped the injured king to safety, before it helplessly fell into the canal far below.

Rana Pratap pledged that until he reclaimed Chittor he would sleep on a bed of straw and eat out of a leaf plate. Though Pratap fought consistently yet could not win back Chittor even after years of battle with the Mughals, he firmly lived by this pledge—as a token of their honour, the people of the land still place a leaf under their plates and straws under their bed.

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The kind of friends a person makes shows his character, but the kind of enemies a person makes shows his capacity. Only a person who embraces history can welcome the future with open arms.

India, perhaps, would be the most comprehensively significant land—aesthetically, culturally, scholastically, and spiritually—to have existed on Earth in ancient times, though only insufficient empirical proof of this survives to this day. This partly is due to misfortune that we did not commit our immense knowledge to writing. It was only passed on through shruti “that which has been heard” and smriti “that which has been remembered”.

Furthermore, whatever written historical accounts left behind by historians and travellers like Hwang Tsung who visited our land, preserved in vast libraries, were destroyed in fires initiated by neighbouring invaders whose cruel intent was to strip India of its vast reserves of knowledge, out of terrible jealously.

Children, apart from being ‘trained’ to score high marks and be academically and professionally successful, must also be ‘educated’ on how they must lead a moral, ethical, and socially responsible life as adults, and lead future generations by example—making their worldly success wholesome. They must be taught to give equal importance to character, personality, and humanitarianism—to be treated as the basic moral quality, not the best—as they would to be academically competent, professionally successful, and financially secure.



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