Wielding spears and paintbrushes-Rana Pratap
Whatever we know of this great warrior is largely limited to his military exploits against the then Mughal emperor Akbar and the famous Battle of Haldighati. This battle was fought in the year of 1576 AD and was a defining moment for not just the small kingdom of Mewar but also how the later Hindu kings fought battles with the Mughals.About that, we will read later.
Pratap ascended the Rajput kingdom of Mewar in 1572 after the demise of his father Uday Singh, the creator of Udaipur.
Uday Singh had married several times and had several claimants for his throne. Kings used to marry into several households to sement political and military relationships and it was a sommon practice at that time.
Pratap was his eldest son but had little interest in the throne and according to unconfirmed reports , was planning to leave the kingdom and settle elsewhere.
Uday Singh passed away on Holi and some serving nobles wanted to place Jagmal- another of Uday’s sons- on the throne.They even convinced him to come and sit on the throne.However, a large section of the Rajput chiefs felt that Pratap was the natural and deserving choice.So, Pratap was ultimately elected the unanimous choice and Jagmal was shown the door.
When Pratap assumed office, he had hardly any territories.The Mughals had already occupied the ancient fortress of Chittor and most of Mewar. The kingdom had hardly any territories and resources.
It was in this backdrop that the famous pitched battle of Haldighati was fought between the Mughal forces and the Rajputs.
Clearly, the latter were outnumbered and they lost heavily- around 20,000 Rajputs and Bhils lost their lives.For the Mughals, it was a pyrrhic victory and for the next 4 years, the Mughals had to bear heavy losses in their expeditions in Mewar.
For Pratap, Haldighati taught an important lesson to him- field wars were a drain on the resources and it made better sense to resort to guerilla tactics. So, for the next 4 years, he and his highly motivated force engaged the Mughals in a never ending cat and mouse game that led the latter to a state of demotivation and tiredness.
For Akbar, expeditions to Mewar were a zero sum game and the clever man that he was, abandoned his pursuit of his rival- Pratap.
Ragmala- Where ragas melt into colors and moods
The next few years from 1580 to the year of Pratap’s death in 1597 were of peace and he used this period to patronize and cultivate art and craft and paintings, chief among them was the Ragmala series of paintings.
The actual credit for this school of paintings goes to Nisardi, a painter who migrated to Mewar from Malwa. A fellow painter, Mohammed should also not be forgotten for this golden era of paintings.
Ragmala was also being patronised in the Mughal and Amber courts but was adapted to the Mewar style and tastes by the Mewari painters.
So, what does Ragmala mean?The paintings in Ragmala simply represent each raga or ragini with colour, mood, hero or heroine as well as the time of the day or night when that raga is used in musical renditions.
I am not an art or music specialist, but the main idea behind this post was to bring out the legacy of Pratap in not just matters military but also art and craft.
I hope , you will like this post.