There are no people who would not have heard about the great king of India Maharana Pratap. He was one of the most powerful rulers who fought for the motherland and wanted to free India from the Mughal empire.
Maharana Pratap was born in the year 1540, his father was Rana Uday Singh of Mewar and he had 33 children, the eldest son was Maharana Pratap. His birth name was Lokesh Singh and was considered very brave amongst all his sons. From childhood, Maharana Pratap was known for his righteous behaviour and self-respecting qualities.
He was a very courageous person and showed more interest in sports and war than in general education. He was very well versed with war skills and modern techniques. In 1568 during the reign of Pratap’s father, Udai Singh II, Chittorgarh Fort was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar after the third Jauhar. Udai Singh and his family had left before the capture and moved to the foothills of the Aravalli Range where Udai Singh had already founded the city of Udaipur in 1559. Rani Dheer Bai wanted her son Jagmal to succeed Udai Singh but senior courtiers preferred Pratap, as the eldest son, to be their king. Moreover, Jagammal did not possess qualities like courage and self-respect which were essential in a leader and king.
So Maharana Pratap was coronated in the year 1572. During his reign, Akbar was the Mughal Ruler in Delhi. Maharana Pratap had heard that many Hindus were suffering under the Mughals and he wanted to put an end to the plight of the people. Maharana thought the best way to attack Mughals was to unite all Hindu forces and bring under his control. During those times, many Kings had feared Akbar and abandoned their glorious traditions and fighting spirit had accepted defeat under the hands of the Mughals. In order to make peace with Akbar, most of the Kings sent their daughters and daughters-in-law to Akbar who in turn got rewards and honour.
Maharana Pratap fought many wars and in the Battle of Haldighati, on 23 June 1576, Man Singh I conquered Gogunda which was later recaptured by Pratap in July 1576. Pratap then made Kumbhalgarh his temporary capital. After that, Akbar decided to personally lead the campaign against Pratap. The vested interests and internal fights of many Rajput leaders isolated Maharana Pratap.
He always inspired his soldiers and told them to fight for their motherland….
“My brave warrior brothers, our Motherland, this holy land of Mewar, is still under the clutches of the Mughals. Today, I take an oath in front of all of you that till Chittod is freed, I will not have food in gold and silver plates, will not sleep on a soft bed and will not stay in the palace; instead I will eat food on a leaf-platter, sleep on the floor and stay in a hut. I will also not shave till Chittod is freed”, “My brave warriors, I am sure that you will support me in every way sacrificing your mind, body and wealth till this oath is fulfilled.”
Since most of the Kings had betrayed Maharana Pratap, he recruited tribal people and trained for the war. But most of these people were inexperienced and did not have advanced weapons. He appealed to all Rajput chieftains to come under one flag for Mewar’s independence. Rana Pratap’s army of 22,000 soldiers met 2,00,000 soldiers of Akbar at Haldighat. But still, Akbar wasn’t able to defeat Maharana Pratap.
During the battle, his very loyal horse Chetak was grievously injured and inspite to save his master’s life, it jumped a huge canal. As soon as it jumped the canal it fell and died on the spot and thus saving Maharana Pratap sacrificing its own life. It is said, strong Maharana cried like a child over the death of his faithful horse. Later he constructed a beautiful garden at the place where Chetak had breathed its last.
Akbar then decided to attack him again and even after 6 months of repeated attacks, he was never able to capture or defeat Maharana Partap. As a last resort, Akbar sent another great warrior General Jagannath in the year 1584 with a huge army to Mewar but after trying relentlessly for 2 years, even he could not catch Rana Pratap. Rana spent many years wandering and faced constant danger from many people.
There was a time when Rana could not even find proper food to his children and he thought it was better to surrender himself to Akbar. A poet named Prithviraj from Akbar’s court, who was an admirer of Maharana Pratap wrote a long letter in the form of a poem to him in Rajasthani language boosting his morale and dissuading him from calling a truce with Akbar. With that letter, Rana Pratap felt as if he had acquired the strength of 10,000 soldiers. Later he gave up the thought of surrendering to Akbar.
A Rajput chieftain serving as a minister in the regime of forefathers of Maharana Pratap heard the painful story of Rana Pratap and then agreed to offer him money that would help him to maintain 25,000 soldiers for 12 years. After this, he also started receiving money from many other sources and he used all the money to expand his army and freed Mewar except Chittod which was still under the control of the Mughals.
But however his wish to free Chittod could not be achieved and on his last days, he handed over the responsibility to his son Amar Singh and died in peace.