The life and legend of Maharana Pratap has gained admirable distinction in the history of Rajputana for the strong display of valour and virtue against Mughal expansionism. His birth anniversary is celebrated with abundant enthusiasm and a strong flavour of patriotism at diverse venues across India. This year, Maharana Pratap Jayanti witnessed a unique commemoration when several royal and noble families of Rajasthan united on a common platform to pay obeisance to one of the most revered monarchs of Mewar. Organised by RRA, a socio-cultural association founded by the Rajput community based in the USA and Canada, this virtual event was curated by Parakram Singh Jhala and Janmejay Singh Tanwar, and graced by a distinguished panel of speakers.
Parakram Singh Jhala and Janmejay Singh Tanwar of RRA.
Maharana Pratap’s painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
Maharaj Kumar Vishvaraj Singh of Mewar commenced the event by reminiscing how his admirable ancestor surmounted great odds to secure the freedom of Mewar. “While there have been many legendary rulers in Mewar who have achievements of a very high standard to their credit, Maharana Pratap epitomises the history of my family,” said the eloquent scion of Mewar.
His address was followed by the talks of several members of other royal families. While Princess Siddhi Kumari of Bikaner expressed her joy over how the valour of Maharana Pratap is being celebrated not just within India but also in other parts of the world, H.H. Maharaja Sawai Jitendra Singh of Alwar and H.H. Maharao Vanshvardhan Singh of Bundi urged everyone to make a conscious effort to imbibe the values that he stood for and pass them on to future generations.
H.H. Maharao Ijyaraj Singh of Kota reminded everyone how Maharana Pratap’s resistance against the Mughal invasion earned him the title of India’s first freedom fighter. He also mentioned how some Rajputs still put a leaf under their dining plates and straw in their sleeping mattresses to honour his famous pledge to sleep on the ground and eat from a leaf plate till his motherland was freed.
Yuvraj Harshvardhan Singh of Dungarpur shared how his ancestor Maharawal Uday Singh I had fought alongside Maharana Pratap’s grandfather Maharana Sanga in the battle of Khanwa against Babur, and elaborated upon other historical connections between his family and the house of Mewar. H.H. Maharawal Jagmal Singh of Banswara was of the opinion that while we celebrate our heroes in all honesty and reverence, we must also understand the difference between the times they lived in and the times we live in, to truly understand and appreciate their policy decisions.
Rajrana Ghanshyam Singh of Badi Sadri, whose ancestor Jhala Maan Singh was one of the most venerated martyrs of the Battle of Haldighati, was the first among the Umraos of Mewar to pay his respects to Maharana Pratap. Umraos were the highest feudal barons in the service of the Maharana of Mewar, and the Maharana had the privilege of enjoying their unquestionable loyalty across generations.
Maharaj Dr Pushpendra Singh of Karjali, the senior-most speaker on the panel, was of the opinion that Maharana Pratap’s father Maharana Udai Singh must be credited for changing Mewar’s century-old war policy of ‘perish, but do not surrender’ to ‘neither perish, nor surrender’. He credited this changed outlook to be the prime reason for Maharana Pratap’s indomitable character.
Maharaj Ajayraj Singh of Begut threw light on the various accolades given to Maharana Pratap like ‘Veer Shiromani’ and ‘Prathah Smaraniya’, and elaborated upon the reasons behind them. Sharing how he idolised Maharana Pratap from a young age, he spoke very candidly about his childhood hero’s renunciation and sacrifice and expressed his happiness at how the narrative is finally evolving to reveal the lesser-known facts about Maharana Pratap.
Rawat Jitendra Singh of Meja said that while the term ‘equality’ holds strong significance in a modern democracy, Maharana Pratap pioneered and patronised this concept way back in time. “He promoted communal harmony by appointing Hakim Khan Sur as a General in his army. He also gave a strong social and morale boost to the Bhil tribesmen of his state by not only befriending them but also giving them the honour of serving in his forces on equal footing with the Rajputs.”
While Bhanwar Abbheraj Singh of Bansi traced his family’s lineage to Maharana Pratap’s brother Maharaj Shakti Singh, Rawat Mahesh Pratap Singh of Kotharia and Kunwar Jaivardhan Singh of Amet talked about the selfless services of their ancestors to the throne of Mewar. Thakur Himmat Singh of Ghanerao shared how his ancestors fought against the invaders to defend Kumbhalgarh—the birthplace of Maharana Pratap.
Major Maharaj Raghavraj Singh of Shivrati emphasised Maharana Pratap’s military genius and discussed how the battle of Haldighati saw one of the finest cavalry manoeuvres and a distinctive surgical strike directly on the commander of the Mughal forces.
To conclude, in his words, “Narratives may change, but facts will always reflect how Maharana Pratap’s patriotism remained unscathed and independent of any foreign rule.”