(Continuing my series on Mewar, with this post on Rana Sanga, another great ruler)
In my previous post on the Ranas of Mewar, I had talked about . Now we shall take a look at Rana Sanga, Kumbha’s grandson, and one of the greats of the kingdom. As I had stated earlier, Kumbha was killed by his own son Udai Singh I, who however proved to be a worthless ruler. Under Udai Singh I, Mewar lost both Abu and Ajmer, and soon there was a clash for the throne between Udai Singh and Raimal, his brother. Raimal defeated Udai Singh I in a series of battles at Jawar, Darimpur and Pangarh, forcing him to flee. Udai Singh I tried to seek the help of the Delhi Sultanate, but was struck down by lightning and died. Raimal proved to be a successful ruler, repelling an invasion by the Sultan of Malwa, Ghiyas Shah and later his general Zafar Khan at Mandalgarh. He also put an end to the feud between Chittorgarh and Jodhpur, by marrying Rao Jodha’s daughter, Sringardevi and the Rathores would later be one of the staunchest allies of Mewar. Ajmer was recaptured, and Mewar was once again restored to its glory under Raimal.
Raimal however had to face the agony of seeing his 3 sons – Prithviraj, Jaimal and Sanga, having constant fights with each other over accession to the throne. In fact as per one version, it is said that Raimal’s own nephew Surajmal, son of Udai Singh I, was the one who instigated the fights. It’s believed that this was Surajmal’s way of getting back at Raimal, after he overthrew his father. One such conflict turned serious, with Sanga having to flee Chittorgarh to save himself. Though Jaimal was declared the next successor, he was killed in a skirmish, and Prithviraj, was allegedly poisoned by his own brother in law. Having known that Sanga was still in exile, Raimal recalled him back and soon he ascended the throne as Maharana Sangram Singh, or Rana Sanga.
One of Sanga’s first acts as the ruler was to attack Malwa, which was riven apart by internal dissension between its Sultan Mahmud Khilji and its Rajput Wazir Medini Rai. Khilji requested Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi and Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat to assist him, while Rai took the help of Sanga, which marked a long rivalry. With support from Rajput rebels in Malwa, Sanga subdued the forces of Malwa and Gujarat in a series of battles. Khilji himself was taken prisoner, though he was freed, but his sons continued to remain as hostages at Chittoor. Soon Malwa was under Rana Sanga’s control.
The North eastern part of Rajasthan, was then under the Delhi Sultanate. When Ibrahim Lodi the Sultan of Delhi, had to deal with an internal rebellion, Sanga took advantage and captured key regions there, including the crucial fort of Ranthambore. Ibrahim Lodi attacked Mewar in retaliation, and in a fierce battle at Khatoli near Gwalior, Sanga managed to defeat the Afghans under Lodi. It was in this battle that Sanga lost an arm and a leg, having earlier lost one eye in a different battle. Lodi again tried to attack Sanga during 1518-19, but had to taste another humiliating rout at Dholpur. Sanga, repeatedly defeated Ibrahim Lodi in many battles, and during his reign recaptured a large part of Rajasthan.
With Sanga’s empire now stretching up to Agra, his next target was the very heart of political power – Delhi – from where he hoped to expand even farther. Gujarat was humbled, Malwa was conquered, and only Delhi lay in his sights to achieve supremacy over the North of Bharat. It was there that Sanga made a fatal mistake, when he allied with Babar against Ibrahim Lodi, who in turn would grant him Dholpur, Biana and Kalpi. However after Babur defeated and killed Lodi in the first Battle of Panipat, he refused to honor the agreement with Sanga. Sanga felt that like Ghazni and Ghori, Babur was more of an invader, who would attack, plunder and leave; it was a huge misjudgment. The fact is Babur was here to stay and establish his own empire. Sanga felt that the only option was to wage a war against Babur, and this was where he miscalculated. With his numerically huge army, Sanga reckoned that victory against Babur would be a formality; he had however not reckoned with the latter’s artillery and cannons that played a major role at Panipat. Sanga even took the help of other Muslim rulers like the fugitive Afghan prince Mehmud Lodi and the Mewati Khanzada ruler Hassan Khan Mewati. The biggest blow though would come from Shiladitya, the Tomar ruler of Raisen, whom he sent as an emissary to Babur’s camp. Babur managed to win over Shiladitya, and convinced him to help him out while fighting on Sanga’s side. On March 16, 1527, the combined forces of Rana Sanga, Hassan Khan Mewati, Mahmud Lodi and Medini Rai clashed with Babur’s forces at Khanwa, near Fatehpur Sikri.
It was one of the most fiercely fought battles ever, and at a crucial moment, Shiladitya with a 30,000 strong contingent, defected to Babur’s side. It was a great betrayal, and totally demoralized the Rajputs. Though Sanga tried to rally back his forces, there was utter confusion and chaos in the ranks, and he himself was injured. Babur’s army also had the advantage of superior fire power, using the latest cannons, and artillery, and soon the Rajput army suffered heavy reverses. Rana Sanga wounded was carried away from the battlefield by the Rathores of Marwar, and he later learnt of the humiliating rout at Khanwa. The Battle of Khanwa was a game changer – it made Babur the undisputed ruler of Delhi, and he soon began to consolidate his hold over the North. Sanga made a vow not to step into Chittorgarh till Babur was defeated. He however could not live up to it, and in 1528, he died a broken hearted man, injured physically, betrayed by his own.
The article originally appeared as a blog post on the site https://historyunderyourfeet.wordpress.com, and is being reproduced on HinduPost with the consent of the author, Ratnakar Sadasyula.
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