History of Rajasthan
of Rajasthan have been inhabited since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization
about 5000 years ago. Excavations at Kalibanga in Northern Rajasthan have revealed
the existence of human settlements of the Harappan times on the banks of a river
that dried up later, which is believed to be the River Saraswati by some scholars.
The historical evidence found in Bairat reflects the presence of Pre-Aryan people.
The first Aryan settlement was at the Dhundhar region around 1400 BCE. The foremost
inhabitants of this area were the Bargujars, Bhils and the Meenas. They formed small
kingdoms that battled with each other. Ancient Hindu scriptural epics like Ramayana
and Mahabharata make reference to sites in present-day Rajasthan. According to a
popular legend, Rama the seventh avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu, aimed an
arrow towards the Sea God who inhabited the straits between India and Sri Lanka.
However, when the Sea God apologised to Rama for opposing his desire to cross the
straits, than Rama fired the arrow to the north-west, rendering the whole region
as a desolated wasteland Before the reign of the Rajput rulers, Rajasthan was a
part of the illustrious Mauryan Empire around 321-184 BCE. It had also been a part
of Republics like Arjunyas, Hunas, Kushans, Malavas, Saka Satraps and the Yaudheyas.
The Guptas reigned in the 4th century. Some Buddhist caves and Stupas have been
found in Jhalawar, in the southern part of Rajasthan. The decline of the 300 year
old Gupta Empire in the 5th century led to the political unrest in the Northern
India and was followed by an epoch of instability as numerous chieftains tried to
gain power. The situation was stabilized when the Gurjara Pratiharas, the earliest
of the Rajput dynasty emerged around 700 CE. Since then Rajasthan was identified
as Rajputana or the land of the Rajputs. The term Rajput literally
means the son of a king.
From 640 CE onwards, the Pratiharas, Chauhans and Gahlots
set up independent Kingdoms. Around 1000-1200 AD, the Rajputs had
internal strife among themselves and were engaged in armed conflicts with each other.
A struggle for supremacy took place among the Parmars, Chalukyas, and Chauhans.
During the eighth - twelfth century AD, the Rajput clan gained supremacy and altogether
the Rajputs were divided into 36 royal clans and 21 dynasties like the Hadas of
Jhalwawar, Kota & Bundi, Sisodias of Mewar, the Bhatis of Jaisalmer, the Shekhawats
of Shekhawati, the Kachhwahas of Jaipur and the Chauhans of Ajmer, the Rathores
of [[Marwar] Jodhpur]]. Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, comprising a number
of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. The Jats were rulers
in Bharatpur and Dholpur. Tonk was ruled by a Muslim Nawab. Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur,
and Jaipur were some of the main Rajput states. Rajput families rose to prominence
in the 6th century CE, establishing kingdoms in Rajputana and across
Maharana Pratap, a Rajput ruler and great warrior of his time.Mughal emperor Akbar
sent many missions against him. However he survived and ultimately gained control
of all areas of Mewar excluding fort of Chittor.
Prithviraj Chauhan fought a brave battle against the foreign invader Muhammad Ghori
and defeated him in the first battle of Tarain in 1191 CE (but was defeated in the
Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE), but was defeated in the seventeenth battle
with Ghori. After getting defeated for sixteen times, Ghori begged for his life
saying a sentence with a literal meaning "I am your cow, Forgive". In the seventeenth
battle, a traitor from Chauhan's kingdom supported Ghori's army and landed up in
the defeat. What happens after this is clear from the local folk songs still prominent
in Rajasthan. It is said that PrithviRaj was taken to Afghanistan along with his
raj-kavi cum friend, Chandbhar. In Ghori's court, Prithviraj and Chandbhar were
brought in shackles. PrithviRaj was asked to show the art of archery, wherein he
could aim and shoot just by hearing the sound. It is also known as Shabdbhedi-baan.
Ghori asked him to show him this art. To make game interesting for himself, he got
his eyes pierced with hot iron rods. Chandbhar says, "A king, though as a prisoner,
can receive command only from a king. So it would be an honour if you command Him
to shoot". Then he says few verses or poetry, few of those lines were,"Char baans
chobis guz, aangal asht pravan, maar maar mote to chook na Chauhan". Chaar baans
meant four bamboos stick, chaubis guz as approximately 24 yards, aangal asht praval
meant eight fingers width. All this combined gave thew exact location of Ghori sitting
on his throne i.e. 4 bamboos stick high, 24 yards away and exactly eight fingers
up was the Ghori sitting. "Go ahead O Chauhan and don't miss the aim". This is how
PrithviRaj kills Ghori in his court and obviously to meet his own death. Grave of
PrithviRaj Chauhan is present till date next to Ghori's grave. And after the defeat
of Chauhan around 1200 AD a part of Rajasthan came under Muslim rulers. The principal
centers of their powers were Nagaur and Ajmer. Ranthambhor was also under their
suzerainty.In the 12th century the Bhatti rajputs of jaselmer so enragged the empror
Alo Din Khilji by looting his rich carvan,so his army attacked the state and captured
the fort.At their conqure the rajput women commited the jauhar. At the beginning
of the 13th century CE, the most prominent and powerful state of Rajasthan was Mewar.
The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput
kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate. Mewar led others
in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur,
the founder of the Mughal empire.
In order to gain the trust of the Rajput rulers, the Mughal Emperor Akbar arranged
matrimonial alliances. He also sought reconciliation with the hostile Rajputs after
performing the matrimonial alliances. He himself married the Rajput princess- Jodha
Bai who was the daughter of the Maharaja of Amber. He granted high offices to a
large number of Rajput princes and this maintained very cordial relations with these
Rajputs. Soon most of the Rajputs were transformed into friends of Akbar from adversaries
and many of them surrendered their kingdoms to Akbar. Rulers like Raja Maan Singh
of Amber were trusted allies. However all Rajput rulers were not ready to accept
Akbar’s dominance and preferred to remain independent. One such ruler was Raja Uday
Singh of Mewar, who founded the city of Udaipur. He never accepted Akbar’s supremacy
and was at constant war with him. Akbar forcefully seized Chittor, his capital.
After his death, this struggle was continued by his son – Rana Pratap. He fought
a terrible battle with Akbar at the Haldighati pass where he was defeated and wounded.
Since then Rana Pratap remained in recluse for 12 years and attacked the Mughal
ruler from time to time. He fought valiantly throughout his life never ceded his
independence to the Mughal ruler.
The traditional sacrifice and the self-respect of the Rajput women are also worth
mentioning while discussing the imperial rule of Rajasthan during the medieval epoch.
When the Rajput rulers were forced to surrender their kingdoms to other invaders,
the Rajput women in order to protect their chastity and self-respect used to light
up a pyre and together they used to jump into the fire thus sacrificing and ending
their own lives. This custom of collective sacrifice was known as Jauhar.
Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural
heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which
are enriched by features of Muslim and Jain architecture.
Rajasthan had never been united politically until its domination by Mughal Emperor
Akbar. Akbar created a unified province of Rajasthan. Mughal power started to decline
after 1707. The political disintegration of Rajasthan was caused by the dismemberment
of the Mughal Empire. The Marathas penetrated Rajasthan upon the decline of the
Mughal Empire. In 1755 the Maratha general Scindia occupied Ajmer. The beginning
of the 19th Century was marked by the onslaught of the Pindaris.
The Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century,
accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy and protection from the
Marathas. Following the Mughal tradition and more importantly due to its strategic
location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states,
the Muslim state (Tonk), and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized
into the Rajputana Agency. In 1817-18 the British Government concluded treaties
of alliance with almost all the states of Rajputana. Thus began the British rule
over Rajasthan, then called Rajputana.
At the time of India's Independence in 1947, Rajasthan consisted of 18 Princely
States, two chieftains and a British administered province of Ajmer-Merwara besides
a few pockets and territories outside its main boundaries. It took seven stages
to form Rajasthan as defined today. In March 1948 the Matsya Union consisted of
Alwar, Bharatpur, Dhaulpur and Karauli was formed. Also, in March 1948 Banswara,
Bundi, Dungarpur, Jhalawar, Kishangarh, Kota, Pratapgarh, Shahpura and Tonk joined
the Indian union and formed a part of Rajasthan. In April 1948 Udaipur joined the
state and the Maharana of Udaipur was made Rajpramukh. Therefore in 1948 the merger
of south and southeastern states was almost complete. Still retaining their independence
from India were Jaipur and the desert kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
From a security point of view, it was vital to the new Indian Union to ensure that
the desert kingdoms were integrated into the new nation. The princes finally agreed
to sign the Instrument of Accession, and the kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer
and Jaipur were merged in March 1949. This time the Maharaja of Jaipur, Man Singh
II was made the Rajpramukh of the state and Jaipur became its capital. Later in
1949, the United State of Matsya, comprising the former kingdoms of Bharatpur, Alwar,
Karauli and Dholpur, was incorporated into Rajasthan. On January 26 1950, 18 states
of united Rajasthan merged with Sirohi to join the state leaving Abu and Dilwara
to remain a part of Greater Bombay and now Gujarat. In November 1956 under the State
Re-organisation Act, 1956 the erstwhile part 'C' State of Ajmer, Abu Road Taluka,
former part of princely State Sirohi (which were merged in former Bombay), State
and Sunel Tappa region of the former Madhya Bharat merged with Rajasthan and Sirohi
sub district of Jhalawar was transferred to Madhya Pradesh. Thus giving the existing
boundary Rajasthan. Today with further reorganisation of the states of Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Rajasthan has become the largest state of the Indian Republic.
The princes of the former kingdoms were constitutionally granted handsome remuneration
in the form of privy purses and privileges to assist them in the discharge of their
financial obligations. In 1970, Indira Gandhi, who was then the Prime Minister of
India, commenced under-takings to discontinue the privy purses, which were abolished
in 1971. Many of the former princes still continue to use the title of Maharaja
but the title has little else power other than status symbol. Many of the Maharajas
still hold their palaces and have converted them into profitable hotel while some
have made good in politics. The democratically elected Government runs the state
with a Chief Minister as its executive head and the Governor as the head of the
state. Currently, including the new district of Karauli, there are 32 districts,
105 sub-divisions, 37889 villages, 241 tehsils and 222 towns in Rajasthan.