Resistance of Maharana
Pratap of Mewar Against Akbar
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Resistance of Maharana Pratap of Mewar Against Akbar
Resistance of Maharana Pratap
At the time of Pratap’s accession, Chittor, the traditional capital of Mewar,
was not under the possession of Guhilot Ranas of Mewar. In the words of Dr.
G.N. Sharma “The gaddi that he (Pratap) had acquired and the territory that he
inherited was not a bed of roses for the Rana.
Like Chandra Sen Mewar, Pratap had also to fight a war of succession against
his step brother Jamal in which he emerged out victorious but at the same time
the war crippled his resources. Still Pratap continued his struggle against
the imperial power of Akbar. Love for his country coupled with his
determination to keep it free from the tutelage of Mughals goaded him to
measure swords with the Mughal army headed by Man Singh Kachchwah of Amber in
the battle of Haldighati. He lived and died as an independent person who was
never tired of war hoping against hopes for recovery of Chittor and other lost
territories. Dr. V.A. Smith has summed up his struggle against the Mughals in
these words “Patriotism was his offence”.
Causes of Pratap’s Resistance
“The two opponents – Pratap and Akbar, were extraordinary men.
Both of them were inspired by idealism – different though it was
in each case – in the pursuit of which they reckoned on
sacrifice as too great and yet both were pre-eminently men of
According to Col. Tod, “Pratap succeeded to the titles and
renown of an illustrious house, but without a capital, without
resources, his kindred and clans decapitated by reverses, yet
possessed of the noble spirit of his race, he meditated the
recovery of Chittor, the vindication of the honour of his house,
and the restoration of its powers.” Elevated with this design,
he hurried in conflict with his powerful antagonist. At the time
of Pratap’s accession Chittor was in the hand of the Mughals.
The frontier districts of Mewar (Badhor, Shahpura and Rayala)
were also under the Mughal control. In the words of Dr.
A.L.Srivastava, “By the end of 1572 Mewar was surrounded on the
north, east and west by the Mughal territory; her southern and
south – eastern boundary was alone outside the Mughal sphere of
influence. It was Akbar’s settled policy to bring about a
complete blockade of Rana Pratap’s dominion and thus exert
military and political pressure so as to make him accept his
suzerainty without a fight.”
Modern writers have painted Pratap as the champion of liberty
and defender of his religion. Pratap stood for the honour and
dignity of Rajput race as a whole. Late Dr. A. L. Srivastava has
refuted this assertion by saying, “there was no danger to
Hinduism or the Hindu way of life from Akbar, who respected
religious beliefs and susceptibilities of all classes of people
and more specially those of his Rajput allies and vassals.
According Dr. G.N. Sharma, “equally revolting was the idea in
Pratap’s mind to enter into a matrimonial alliance with him
Mughal ruling family and send a ‘dola to Akbar’s harem.”
Pratap’s rival Jagmal was received with kindness by the Mughal
Emperor who grated him jagir of Jahazpur on the frontiers of
Thus, Pratap’s ideology behind his determination to keep
him-self aloof from Akbar’s fold was based on the traditional,
heroic tradition of his house.
Causes of Akbar’s Action
according to late Dr. A.L. Srivastava, “was to unite the whole
of the sub-continent of India under one scepter.” Commenting on
the policy followed by Akbar towards Rajput states. Dr. R.P.
Tripathi writes, “By his dealings with other Rajput princes,
Akbar had clearly shown that he did not wish either or annex
their states or interfere with their social, economic and
religious life. He wanted nothing more than their allegiance to
the new Imperial confederation which implied four things;
firstly, the princes were to pay some contribution to the empire
in the form of tribute; secondly, they had to surrender their
foreign policies and their right to settle their disputes by
mutual wars; thirdly, they had to send a fixed military quota
for the service of the confederation whenever required;
fourthly, they should consider themselves an integral pat of the
empire and not merely individual units.” If formation of
confederation was the idea in Akbar’s mind he should not have
insisted on Pratap’s personal presence in the Mughal court
during the period 1572 – 75 when the Rana was half inclined to
enter into alliance with the Mughal Emperor. To say that Akbar
did not annex any important Hindu State is also not correct
historically. The Rathor State of Marwar was put under the
direct administration of the Mughals. His policy towards the
Rajputs was of complete submission which thereby implied his
over lordship. By joining the Mughals his (Pratap’s) state would
have ceased to exist as a sovereign state and the would have
been a Mughal zamindar as the head of watan jagir like his other
The next reason of Akbar’s determination to subdue Pratap was
that smaller states, like Dungarpur, Banswara, Bundi, Sirohi and
Jalor looked to Mewar as the first among the Rajput states of
India. Akbar could not have tolerated it because his ambition
was to unite the entire sub-continent.
Moreover, “the garden of Rajasthan (was rendered) of no value to
the conqueror (Akbar) and the commerce already established
between the Mughal court and overseas, conveyed through Mewar
from Surat and other ports of Gujrat, was intercepted and
plundered.” The defiant attitude of Rana Pratap was creating an
infection in the newly acquired territories which Akbar could
not have tolerated.
According to Dr. R.P. Tripathi, “the Rana of Mewar was in
alliance with the discontented Raja of Gwalior and the
recalcitrant Afghans. His (Pratap’s) alliance with Chandra Sen
of Jodhpur and Raho Sultan of Sirohi who defied imperial
authority, could hardly please Akbar”.
Still, he was not prepared to court open warfare with Pratap
because it was likely to endanger his conquest in Gujrat.
Therefore, he sent three messengers – Mansingh, his father Raja
Bhagwant Dass, and Todarmal to make correct assessment of
Pratap’s attiude towards him and to enlist his submission by
peaceful means. According to Abul Fazi, the Rana sent his eldest
son Amara to wait on the Mughal Emperor along with Raja Bhagwant
Dass and the three messengers reported that Rana was not
planning quarrel with the Emperor.
In spite of inclinations of friendship, the attitude of both the
parties grew stiffer towards each other with the passage of
time. The Rana was feeling aggrieved against the sluggish
recognition of his friendship by the Mughal Emperor who was all
the time insisting on his personal attendance at the Mughal
court and had no intention of restoring Chittor.
The Battle of Haldighati
Dr. R. N. Prasad
writes “Akbar finally decided to bend or break the Rana,” It was
decided by Akbar in March 1576 when he reached Ajmer after
having dealt with the rebel Afghans of eastern India, the rebel
Mirza in Gujarat and Rao Chandra Sen of Marwar. By that time he
had also done away with major problems of the Mughal Empire.
Akbar was also convinced of the fact that Rana Pratap did not
want to attend his court in person. He was avoiding his personal
presence on one pretext or the other. Under these circumstances
he decided to send army against Pratap. The command of the army
was conferred on Man Singh. The Mughal forces did not march
against Pratap under the leadership of Salim. The contemporary
Persian historians, Abul Fazi, Nizammudin Ahmed and Motamid Khan
are of the opinion that Akbar appointed Man Singh as the
commander – in – Chief of the Mughal forces because of his
bravery and farsightedness. The Jaipur vamshavali informs us
that on the request of Man Singh the command of Mughal army was
entrusted to him. Late Dr. G.H. Ojha is of the opinion that to
take revenge of Man Singh’s insult by Pratap on the banks of
Udaisagar, the Kachhava Prince was appointed Commander – in –
Chief of the Mughal forces. The orthodox Muslims were opposed to
Man Singh’s appointment. Abul Qadir Badayuni writes that one of
his friends, Naquib Khan, requested the Emperor to permit him
not to join the Mughal army because the infidel was appointed as
Commander-in-Chief of the army of Islam, Von Noer, the author or
Akbar, Vol. II writes on page 24 and 25 that Akbar wanted to
defeat the Rajputs by the hands of Rajputs; that is why he
appointed Man Singh as Commander of the Mughal forces which left
Ajmer in April 1576, with him were Meer Buxi of the Mughal Khan,
syyed Ahmed Khan, Syyed Hashim Baraha,Mahtar Khan, Khiroja Raft
Badakshan, Mahiwas AH Khan and other well known Muslim warriors.
Among the Hindu mansabdars the names of Man Singh’s uncle Raja
Jagannath Kachhawa, Khangar Madho Singh and Rao Loonkaran are
mentioned in contemporary works. Abdul Qadir Badayuni was
present at the Battle of Haldighati. He writes that there were
only 5,000 horsemen under Man Singh in the battle of Haldighati.
Nensi writes that Man Singh was at the command of 40,000
soldiers at the battle of Haldighati. Modern writer of Vir Vinod
informs us that the Mughal forces were 80,000 in the Battle of
Haldighati. The modern historians of Akbar accept the version of
Badayuni. It is very difficult to believe that the Battle of
Haldighati could be fought with only 5000 horsemen.
Mansingh traveled a distance of 75 miles and reached mandalgarh
where he halted for about a couple of months. The author of
Iqbal Nama-i-Jahangiri informs that the commanders appointed
under Man Singh were to join him at Mandalgarh. Abul Fazi also
informs us that Man Singh waited for reinforcement at Mandalgarh.
The Kachchawa prince wanted to secure the passage between Ajmer
and Mandalgarh before proceeding ahead in the mountain region of
Mewar. Mutamid Khan again confirms this that Rana Pratap was
discouraged by Sardars to be offensive against Man Singh. Man
Singh left Mandalgarh in the direction of Gogunda before the end
of May or beginning of June 1576. The Mughal forces continued to
march till they reached village Molela on the banks of river
banas and halted there up to 15th June.
Rana Pratap made complete arrangements for a war against Mughals.
But he could not get timely information about Man Singh’s march
and therefore he waited at the place Lohasingh for about a
fortnight or so. Rana Pratap could have charged Man Singh from
his camp of Lohasingh but one of his Sardar namely Nida Jhala
advised the Rana not to kill Rajputs unaware of.
Pratap descended from the fort of Kumbalgarh on the 17th of June
1576. He was at a distance of 12 miles from Haldighati and the
Mughal forces were not far away from him. Pratap advanced at the
head of 3,000 Bhil soldiers to charge Man Singh. Dr. G.N. Sharma
writes in Mewar and the Mughal Emperors that Rana Pratap charged
the Mughal forces at the head of 3,000 horses – men, 2,000 foot
soldiers, 150 elephants and 100 miscellaneous soldiers. Abul
Fazi writes that pitched battle between Rana Pratap and Man
Singh took place at the village Khamnor. Badayuni writes that
the battle took place at Gogunda. Col. Tod had described it as
the battle of Haldighati. The actual battle took place in narrow
space known as the Badshah Bagh where 8,000 soldiers of Man
Singh and Pratap fought against each other.
Man Singh deputed an advance guard of 900 soldiers under Syyed
Hashim Barah to repulse the attack of Pratap. Badayuni has
described this contingent as Joja-i-Harawal.’ Raja Jaimal, Asaf
khan and Ghasiuddin Khan, were in the front ranks of the Mughal
army. On the right side were posted Sayyed Ahmed Khan and Hashim
Baraha and on the left side Gazi Khan, Badakshah, Loonkaran, and
the Sheikhzadas of Sikri. On the left side of the Mughal army
was posted Mahtar Khan, to command the reserve of the Mughal
army. Man Singh commanded the Mughal forces from an elephant
which was in the heart of the Mughal army.
Rana Pratap’s front consisted of Kakrm Khan Soor, Kishan Das
Chandwat, and Ram Das. The left was commanded by Ran Ram Shah of
Gwalior and the right wing of the army was commanded by Man
Singh Jhala. Poonja, Purohit Gopi Nath, Metha Ratan Chand and
Jagmal were with the Rana who was in the middle of his army.
The first attack was from the side of Rana on the Mughal forces
on 18th o June, 1576. Abul fazi has given graphic description of
the first encounter between the Mughals and the forces of Rana
Pratap. He informs us that in the thick of the battle it was
difficult to distinguish between friends and foe. Meanwhile
Mahtar Khan spread a rumor that the Mughal emperor was
approaching at the head of a large contingent. The rumor was
spread with a view to boost the morale of the Mughal army. But
it had an adverse effect on the forces of Rana Pratap. Rana fled
from the battlefield and after his flight, his army was
With the flight of Rana Pratap from the battlefield of
Haldighati, romantic legend of the meeting of two brothers,
Shakti Singh and Pratap, is attached. Dr. Ojha and Dr. G.N.
Sharma are of the opinion that this is one of the legends
attached with the glorious name of Rana Pratap. Dr. Raghuvir
Singh has also discarded it. If Shakti Singh would have been
present in the battle of Haldighati, Abul Fazal and Badayuni
must have made mention about his presence in the battle field.
The battle of Haldighati was not the battle between Akbar and
Pratap. The battle was motivated with the sole idea of fight
between imperialism and local independence. Pratap and his
followers sacrificed their life and liberty for the regional
independence of the land of their birth.
Both Abul Fazi and Nizamuddin inform us that 150 men of the
Mughal forces and 500 men of Pratap’s army were killed in the
battle. Badayuni writes that 500 persons of both sides were
killed in the battlefield out of which 120 were Muslims. Rajput
chroniclers give an exaggerated number of 20,000 soldiers having
been killed in the battlefield. Dr. R.P. Tripathi is of the
opinion that Badayuni appears to be correct.
There were four important reasons for the defeat of Rana Pratap
in the battle of Haldighati:-
1. He was himself a brave soldiers who did not lack courage and
physical bravery, but he did not possess farsightedness as
General of the Army and therefore he could not arrange his
forces properly in the battlefield.
2. He did not begin the war with a plan. It was haphazard
beginning in which front rank of the army was completely lost in
3. He plunged 2 battalions of his horsemen in the beginning. He
did not keep the reserve army intact.
4. The battle was fought with traditional methods of warfare.
The bullets of the Mughals could be hardly answered by the
arrows of Pratap’s army. Thus the battle was lost by Pratap
because of his mistakes of omission and commission. It was a
turning point for him in his career because thereafter he had to
proceed in the mountainous region of Girwas near present Udaipur
where he spent his remaining 21 years in the vain hope of
regaining lost power and position against his rival, Akbar the
Pratap’s Career after the
Battle of Halidighati
Rana Pratap escaped safely from the battlefield of Haldighati. He
moved in the direction of Kumbhalgarh. But he could not stay
there for long because Gogunda had fallen in the hand of Man
Singh. Rana did not get tired of his activities despite the fact
that he was defeated in the battle of Haldighati. He began
making an attempt to recover the lost territories by forming a
coalition of some of the leading Rajputs of the then Rajasthan.
He could successfully persuade Narain Das of Idar to raise a
revolt against Akbar. Rana also invited Rao Sultan Sirohi and
Taj Khan of Jalore. At a time when Rana Pratap was forming a
coalition of powers against the Mughal authority, Fazi informs
us that the troubles of Rana Pratap was forming a coalition of
powers against the Mughal authority, Chandra Sen of Marwar
raised trouble in the area of Nadole. Abul fazi informs us that
the trouble of Chandra Senhad some sort of connection with the
troubles of Rana Pratap. The sum total result of Pratap’s
activities was the recovery of Gogunda from the Mughals during
the absence of Kunwar Man Singh.
Rana Pratap’s activities posed a serious problem to Akbar. The
Mughal emperor decided to first subdue Taj Khan of Jalore and
Rao Sultan of Sirohi. Akbar succeeded in reducing them to
obedience. Nodole was also taken into possession by the Mughal
forces by the 19th of October, 1576. The Mughal commanders
succeeded in reestablishing the royal authority in Idar. All
these measures crippled the resources of the Rana who was almost
cornered by the Mughals. Akbar’s visit to Gogunda on October 11,
1576 was a significant event in the struggle between the Mughals
and Pratap of Mewar. Akbar deputed Raja Bhagwant Das of Amber,
his son, Man Singh and Qutubuddin Khan to trace the whereabouts
of Pratap in the hilly region of Mewar. The Mughal commanders
failed in their mission. But Akbar succeeded in establishing
outposts at Pindwara, Haldighati and Mohi with a view to keep an
eye on the contacts of Pratap with his allies. Akbar visited
Udaipur in November, 1576. He appointed Fakrudin and Jagan Nath
as the incharges of the city of Udaipur. The Mughal Empereor
left for Malwa via Dungarpur and Banswara towards the end of
1576 A.D. He had made complete arrangements to encircle Rana
Pratap. But the Rana continued to create troubles in the newly
acquired territories of the Mughals. Therefore an imperial army
was sent against Pratap under the command of Raja Bhagwant Das,
his son Man Singh and Meer Bakshi reinforced took possession of
the fort of Kumbhalgarh on the 3rd of April 1578 A.D. The Rana
had already slipped out of the fort before its occupation by the
Mughals. The Rana went to Dholan, a place on the western
frontiers of Mewar, and passed some time there. His minister,
Bhama Shah, rendered him financial help in hour of distress - He
could manage to attack the Mughal garrison at Kumbhalgarh in
November, 1578 A.D. Shahbaz Khan was again deputed by the Mughal
Emperor to turn out Rana Pratap from the neighbourhood of
Kumbhalgarh. Mughal Commander stayed in the region of Mewar till
about the middle of 1580 A.D. The Rana was forced to retire to
hilly tracks by the Mughal army.
With the retirement of Rana Pratap from the active military life
are attached legends which depict him as a wanderer sleeping on
grass and mats and moving from one valley to other in the
company of tribes (Bhils and Meenas). The most interesting
legend is the story of a cat taking away a lot of bread from the
hands of the crying daughter of Pratap. Dr. G.N. Sharma has
rejected all stories on the authority of contemporary works like
Amar kavya Vanshavli, Raj Vilas, Raj Prashasti and Khyats of
Mewar in which no mention has been made of such romantic
stories. He comes to the conclusion that Col. Tod picked up
legends from some friends with a view to highlight the life of
Pratap after 1580 A.D. Rana Pratap is described as a person who
lost his balance of mind in hour of distress and wrote a letter
of submission to Akbar. It is said that Prithvi Raj of Bikaner
wrote a latter to Pratap to withdraw the letter of submission to
Akbar. Dr. G.N. Sharma has rejected this story also because no
contemporary historian, Hindu or Muslim, mentions it; a letter
of submission from Pratap is not the kind of a thing a Muslim
historian will overlook.
Akbar appointed Abdul Rahim Khankhana as the Subedar of Ajmer on
16th June 1580. He was also put in charge of the Mughal campaign
against the Rana. This forced the Rana to evacuate Dholen and
recede to the interior region of Mewar, known as Chhappan. He
established his authority there. From there the Rana led
expeditions against the states of Banswara and Dungarpur. Akbar
appointed Raja Jagan Nath on the 6th December 1584 against
Pratap and instructed him to bring the Rana to Mughal court as a
captive. On hearing of Jagannath’s march against him Rana
receded further in the interior of Mewar Dr. G.N. – Sharma
writes, “Jagan Nath’s invasion was practically speaking the last
important invasion, after this the Emperor had no time to spare
for Mewar.” It is recorded by Dr – Sharma that the Rana Pratap
could recover 36 places from the Mughal possessions between the
years 1585 and 1597. He was assisted by his son Amar Singh in
his plundering activities against the Mughals. During this
period, war time capital of Mewar was also established at
Chdvand. The Rana died at Chavand on January 19, 1597 A.D.
The account of Rana Pratap’s incessant struggle against Akbar
throughout his life proves the fact that he was fighting for the
independence of the land of his birth. He sacrificed his
personal peace and comfort by not submitting before the Mughal
Emperor. He sacrificed the lives of many of his faithful
followers for achieving his goal. The stand taken by Pratap is
criticized by some of the modem scholars on the authority of
events that took place in Mewar after his death. No doubt his
son and successor Amar Singh had to submit before Akbar’s son
and successor, yet we cannot criticize Pratap for his
sentimental attachment for the land of his birth which coaxed
him to continue struggle against Mughals. His war-time measures
were at the cost of economic losses of Mewar. The Mughals
ravaged the land of Mewar as a result of which the region could
not prosper in years to come. Akbar’s determination to avoid
submission in person were the main reasons responsible for the
devastation of Mewar at the hands of Mughals during the last
quarter of the 16th century.