Maharana Pratap (9th May 1540 - 19th Jauary 1597)

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MAHARANA PRATAP was the proudest and most gallant of the chivalrous Hindu Princes. This man was an idealist, proud, stubborn and fiercely loyal to the struggle for dignity, honour and freedom- in an age and land where almost each one of his peers was scrambling hard to get any fame or land. Mewar was his capital, where the Hindu spirit had been at its prime. Not once did Pratap bow his head to any foreigner. His main battles were prompted from King Akbar.

Pratap belonged to a long line of famous heroic ancestors, but the one that stood out was Rana Sangram (1509 to 1528). He gained the rule over the whole of Rajasthan and Central India. Such a brave man he was who defeated Mahmud of Malwa and made him prisoner. He bore eighty scars, lost one hand, an eye, and a leg in various battles. It was these inspirations that made Maharana Pratap the man he was.

Pratap’s contribution to the common Indian warfare was also important. He changed the very concept of ‘dealing with one’s enemy on the battlefield’ by giving up old principles and practices of fighting. He saw no bravery or wisdom in the age-old Rajput tradition of never staging a retreat even if they ‘stay put’ meant sure death and defeat. He believed in battle only where it could not be avoided. He delighted most in making the Mughals live a dog’s life, harassing them on all possible occasions yet in fighting and moving on, so he could fight another day. This degraded the Mughal invasions. This tactic of warfare was later used to devastating effect by Shivaji and the Marathas.

What it must be noted most of the Hindus weakness to themselves where that they fought to Dharam Yuddha Rules. As you may note these rules were fair where Kings only fought with kings, Archers with Archers, Foot-soldiers with Foot-soldiers also of one didn’t have a weapon or wished to surrender the opposition would have the respect to leave them and move on to a next soldier to fight. Its is not that the Hindus could not defend themselves but the clear fact that we fought with fairness that made it hard for them to fight with people who knew no morals. Maharana Pratap notice that the Mughals would never fight to these rules so he had to be tactically clever to gain his Hindu Kingdom, in the same way that Sri Krishna asked Arjuna and the Pandavas not to adere to strict moral rules of battle against the Kauravas who had no respect for such rules.

Maharana Pratap fought for over 25 long years to save his Kingdom and People and safe guard his freedom, honour and dignity. What life he lead in those troubled times on cannot even imagine! It so happened that the Maharana was sitting down to take meals the danger signal that the enemy was after him. He would move on to take refuge else were. Before he had time to settle elsewhere he had to leave the place and hasten to a more secure spot.

Maharana Pratap was also tactful in making new allies to push the Mughal resistance. He made good friends with the Tribal warriors the Bhils, who helped him fight various battles with their ancient weapons and even older fighting tactics. Unlike the usual run of Hindu Princes, he was always most happy by building coalitions with other Hindu Kingdoms to stop the tide of Mughal conquest on Bharat. At one time he united the Deaors, the Rathods, the princes of Dongarpur, the Hadas and the Chauhans to fight the Mughals. As soon as one coalition was dead he would work on another, Such guts of the brave Hindu King!

At the news of Pratap’s death caused by illness the Poet Duras of Akbars Court stated:

"On hearing of your death, O Pratap, Akbar’s eyes were dimmed and his tongue stuck in his throat, for you had really won after all."
 
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