Steadfast against Foreign Invasions

Col Satish Singh Lalotra
‘One who bears dharma steadfastly, is protected by the divine’—Mewar Insignia.
‘The east bow’d low before the blast
In patient deep disdain;
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again…
Mathew Arnold, a British poet wrote these lines about the Hindus of Bharat. This is the crux of the core narrative embedded in the consciousness of our besieged nation, for the past so many centuries ingrained by our scholars and literary discourses so as to completely obliterate the actual happenings and heroes and peddle entirely opposite to the masses of this sub-continent. I was compelled to write a book review on one of the most iconic families of this sub-continent ,’Maharanas’ of Mewar for the simple reason that just a few days back was celebrated the birth anniversary of Maharana Partap all over india with lots of fanfare and usual gusto. But missing were the details in these celebrations of one of the most crucial battles ever fought by the Maharana against his bête noire …Akbar, the battle of Dewair ,which actually fixed the last nail in the coffin of Mughal expansionism in the Rajputana of those times. Welcome to the seminal book , Maharanas…A thousand years war for Dharma’ written by an equally well qualified and diversely talented writer cum doctor and an acclaimed philanthropist ,Dr Omendra Ratnu a practicing ENT surgeon who also has an abiding passion for culture ,history and Dharma.
Though the world of literary circles is choc-a-bloc with numerous books eulogizing the myriad facets of the Mewar family as a vanguard of defence against the foreign cum muslim invasions for centuries ,nothing comes close by even a whisker to the present one under review …’Maharanas’ penned by Dr Omendra Ratnu as mentioned above. Dr Omendra Ratnu has gone about the book truly epitomizing his profession i.e an ENT surgeon wherein he goes with the clinical precision of a surgeon in marshaling the facts, figures and marvelous photographs to weave a stupendous narrative of one of the numero- uno families of India which were the standard bearers of resistance against the collective might of the invading Arabs, Turks, Mughals and Afghans in different time lines as found obtained in medieval India. Deftly weaving his mind and pen among the labyrinthine of historical events spanning a massive thousand years with such erudition and background knowledge of those fateful years starting from the patriarch Bappa Rawal’s time approximating to CE 728 and ending at the regime of Maharana Raj singh CE 1680 calls for best of reserves of a writer’s patience, painstaking field work cum research leading to production of a masterpiece now known as the seminal book on the Rajputs of india…’Maharanas’ a thousand years war for Dharma.
The writer begins his work by laying the source of his inspiration for trying his hand on such a sensitive subject as an act of serendipity when meandering on twitter he chanced upon a tweet by one Sanjay Dixit (former bureaucrat, thinker and author) mentioning the ‘battle of Dewair’ where Maharana Pratap singh of Mewar conclusively defeated his bête noire Akbar’s army in September,CE 1583. The writer admits in no uncertain terms that it was his utter sloth and contempt for an exaggerated fantasy indulged by a right wing Hindu to idolize Partap, which got removed when it was confirmed by his friend Shatrunjay singh of Devgadh ,who made him meet one very pious soul shri Narayan upadhyaya of Daevgadh. It was he who after having shown him the physical evidence of the famous battle of Dewair that took place on ‘Vijaydashmi day of CE 1583 ,the seeds of writing this book germinated to help correct the various anomalies which the masses of this country had been carrying all along. The book has been a living testimony to the distortions of Rajput history which has been the wont of various governments down the line with little or no efforts to correct it by any chance. The book starts with the opening page dedicated to a center heading saying in so many ways the contribution of Bhils, Rajputs and Hindu ancestors of Mewar who sacrificed their lives and yet stood like a rock with their Maharanas for one thousand years.
The book chronicles in a very clinical method in its very first chapter the analysis of the first patriarch of Mewar ‘Bappa Rawal’ his change of attitude and warfare to take on Mohammed Bin Qasim in CE 738 in a battle somewhere near Jodhpur when about 5000 to 6000 Hindu troops took on 60000 Arabs and completely routed out the first ever foray of Islamists into India. What the Arabs were able to achieve in a few decades in the middle east, Persia, Mesopotamia was conclusively denied by Bappa Rawal who had cobbled together a hurried alliance of Hindu kings and Rajahs realizing the gravity of the situation posed by these Islamic zealots to the collective fabric of India. Thus setting the stage for a common Hindu riposte, the Maharanas of Mewar can be rightfully called as the baton carriers of Hindu religion in an era when all seemed lost. Bappa Rawal can be truly called as the ‘First responder ‘to this country’s external invasion from the west before even any other king could muster the thought in his mind. Chapter two(2) in a similar vein describes the legacy of Bappa Rawal being carried forward in the form of ‘Rawal Khuman(II) who ruled Mewar from CE 820 TO 860 and was instrumental in the defeat of Mahmud Ghazni .He was credited with marshaling 40 royal houses ,from Kashmir to Rameshwaram who unitedly defeated the Arab army. As per the author, Colonel Tod has described all these 40 royal houses in details in his book-‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan’. Chapters 3 to 8 are entirely devoted to the heroic resistance put up by the subsequent generations of Mewar from Rawal Jaitra singh to Rawal Ratan singh under whose rule the first assault of Khilji took place. It depicts the trials and tribulations of Rajputs who despite being under tremendous pressure were able to substantially cripple the invading Mughal armies with devastating regularity by causing un parallel attrition on their war waging capabilities.
The second part of the book reveals the true character of Maharana Partap during his childhood days as well as youth. The carnage of Chittor by Akbar finds mention over here followed by the third ‘Saka’.The pages in this part of the book race through the ascendance to the throne of Maharana Partap as well his single-minded dedication for fortification of Mewar. The so called ‘center of gravity’ of the book finds mention in this section where the two very hard fought engagements between the invading Mughals and the redoubtable Rajputs i.e Battle of Haldighati & Battle of Dewair occur. It has been the singular effort of Dr Omendra Ratnu the author , to build his entire story line revolving around the efforts by various historians and thinkers regarding obfuscation of facts and painting the battle of Haldighati as the final victory of Mughals over the Rajputs ,and in the bargain pushing out the real victors i.e the Rajputs in the battle of Dewair who by the bravery of their sword arms made 36000 (thirty six thousand ) Mughal troops eat the humble pie. The book meanders through various time lines covering the generations of Maharana Amar singh and the last covered in this seminal book ,Maharana Raj singh who sounded death knell of the aspirations of Aurangzeb as well as saving of Srinathji.
Be that as it may this masterpiece book shall remove cobwebs of confusion as well as gross distortion of the historical facts as embedded in the psyche of our learners when it comes to true depiction of our national history impinging our future generations. This book is an attempt to rewrite the history of the great Maharanas of Mewar with special emphasis on the ‘Marathon of Mewar’ -the battle of Dewair. As per the author the Maharanas did not sheath their swords, bend their spears, relax their bows or let their arrows be blunted even when death and despair danced around them. The final or third part of the book named as ‘The lies of thousand years of Hindu slavery’ has been busted with full evidence citing a plethora of examples that should chasten the self-serving historians of our country and force them to eat a humble pie since Dr Ratnu has foot slogged the entire stretch of the Rajputana where the blood stained history was scripted, captured hard facts as also record first hand evidences with the help of the locals of repute. The book very rightfully says that had the kingdom of Mewar splintered under the weight of Islamic tyranny ,our northern and western borders would have been overrun and within decades we would have become another Afghanistan.
The blue -green tinged outer cover of the book ‘ Maharanas’ with a horse riding warrior armed with a lance and the figure of Lord Shiva in the foreground says all to an avid reader as to take a quick decision to buy this masterpiece of scholastic importance. Published by Prabhat paperbacks, New Delhi last year (2022),it is a relatively new addition to the long list of books of historical importance in our country. A little about the author wouldn’t be out of place in this regard .Dr Omendra Ratnu is a practicing ENT surgeon with an abiding passion for history ,art and culture and runs an NGO ‘Nimittekam’ for the rehabilitation of minority refugees of Pakistan in India. With 391 page under its total spread liberally sprinkled with good and glossy photographs of the places associated with the events of the Maharanas , I am quite convinced in my mind that the readers particularly the student community will find it very appealing. Priced at a modest Rs 500 only it is not much of an asking if the book should form part of your personal library or not.
(The writer is a retired army officer)