Author: Anant Pai
Arvind Mandrekar/Luis M Fernandes
Editor(s): Anant Pai
Publisher: India Book House
ISBN/UPC (if available): 817509 et. Al
During the seventeenth century, the Mughals reigned supreme over Northern and Central India. In the Deccan endless battles went on between other kings like Adil Shah of Bijapur and chiefs like the Nawab of Janjira. The common man suffered at the hands of the officers as well as the marauding Khans and Sardars. Even the zeal of such fighting races as the Rajputs had been suppressed by centuries of slavery under Mughal rule. Many of them had become mere puppets, holding posts of honour under their royal masters.
At such a period was Shivaji born. He was the son of an incredibly brave father and a wise and loving mother. These two and a teacher named Dadoji were the moulding influences on Shivaji’s character. The boy showed an uncommon understanding of the happenings around him. The wicked deeds of the ruling class made him angry and restless. The flame of freedom burnt in the little boy’s heart. He collected around him a band of devoted followers and as they grew up they swore to throw off the yoke of alien rule. How Shivaji carried out his ambitious plans with success, is told in pictures in the following pages.
2. Bappa Rawal
By the 7th century the Rajput kings has lost their kingdoms, extending up to Ghazni in Afghanistan, to their enemies. In the 8th century the foreign invaders had not only entered India across the Indus but had also established several small kingdoms in Rajasthan. Even so, the Hindu rulers failed to unite. There was not one Rajput ruler strong enough to drive those aliens out, bring together the small states and instil a sense of peace and security among the people.
Such were the conditions when prince Shailadhish, who was to become famous as Bappa Rawal, the father of a united Rajasthan, was compelled to go into hiding. He was a mere Child when he was taken away from his mother to serve a Brahman.
Once, when he went to see her, his mother related to him how the Rajputs had once ruled over the territory up to Ghazni. At that movement Bappa made a vow, I will win back the territory of my predecessors.
In the following pages you will read how, in the face of troubles and tribulations, he redeemed his promise. This book has been adapted from the various legends about Bappa Rawal.
3. RANA KUMBHA
Maharana Kumbha was a scion of the Sisodiya branch of the House of Hammir. Maharana Kumbha was not only a great sovereign and military commander but also a great scholar and musicologist.
Among the galaxy of Rajput sovereigns Maharana Kumbha occupies a pre-eminent position. His natural abilities and achievements place him in the forefront of the great rulers not only of Mewar, but of the whole of India. The material for this Chitra Katha has been drawn from the famous book on the life of Kumbha by Harbilas Sarda.
Maratha history is full of incidents of great valour and heroism. Tanaji is one of the Maratha warriors who shone like a meteor in the horizon of early Maratha history.
Tanaji was a friend of Shivaji from his early childhood days and was steadfast in his devotion to the cause. He stood by Shivaji in all the perilous adventures undertaken by him in the early years. The task of climbing Kondana was not an easy one. It was a well-guarded fort and the only access was from the side of a precipice, which was considered insurmountable. The great historian, Sir H G Rawlinson, says, it was a task, which the Mawlas alone, perhaps of any troops in the world, could hope to cope with successfully.
Simhagad, near Poona, is a living monument to the memory of this great soldier. The present work is mainly based on Shivaji, the Maratha, his life and times-H G Rawlinson and Shivasamsmriti-G S Sardesai.
5. Krishnadeva Raya- The Greatest Emperor of Vijayanagara
The kingdom of Vijayanagara (founded in 1336 AD) was a stronghold of Hinduism at a time when India was politically dominated by Muslim rulers. The glory of Vijayanagara reached its zenith during the reign of the great Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-1529). Domingos Paes, the Portuguese traveler, described the capital city as the best provided city in the world and found it as large as Rome and very beautiful to look at. Of Krishnadeva Raya, he wrote: He is the most perfect king that could be, cheerful of disposition and very merry. He is a great ruler and a man of much justice.
Krishnadeva Raya succeeded his elder brother Veera Narasimha in the year 1509. According to a legend Veena Narashimha wanted to have Krishnadeva Raya killed, but this is not corroborated by evidence from historical sources.
Krishnadeva Raya was a shrewd general and as astute statesman. As an accomplished poet and a patron of the arts, his literary court was adorned by eminent poets and scholars in Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit. Krishnadeva Raya himself wrote a Telugu classic, Amukta-Malyada and a play in Sanskrit, Jambavati-Kalyana. The saint-philosopher Vyasa Tirtha, the saint-composers-Purandara Dasa and Kanakadasa- were his contemporaries. The well-known wit, Tenali Ramakrishna, was a favourite of the king. The temples of Rama and Vitthala, the ruins of which are extant in Hampi (near Hospet in Karnataka), were constructed during his reign.
6. Rana Sanga
In the 8th century A D Bappa Rawal drove out the invaders from Rajasthan and united its several small kingdoms into one. Rana Sanga was his worthy successor. Early in the 16th century, when a vast area of India was under the domination of foreign rulers, he made a valiant attempt to defeat them.
In the following pages is narrated the story of the valour of this iron man of India, based on Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.
In the history of India, Padmini of Chittor holds a very prominent position. She was a perfect model of ideal Indian womanhood. The values cherished by her were threatened by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the mighty Afghan king of Delhi. A lesser woman would not have been able to face Ala-ud-din. But Padmini was not an ordinary woman. She faced her problems with exceptional courage, a living example of virtuous womanhood.
It was this that inspired many a legend about her. The present story of Padmini is based on Padmavat by the famous Sufi poet Malik Muhammed Jayasi, and Gora-Badal by the poet, Jatmal.
8. Tales of Shivaji
There are a number of tales about Shivaji and his contemporaries. Some of them like Rani Mallamma of Belavadi are historical stories while others like the story of Hira the Milkmaid are legends. The Shivaji of all these stories is a man who is held in high esteem; a man who recognizes nobility even in his adversaries; a man of virtue who treats even his prisoners-of-war with respect. Three such stories are given in this Amar Chitra Katha.
9. RANA PRATAP
During this period when almost everyone in Northern India had bowed down before Akbar, only the lone, unbending figure of Rana Pratap stood against him. He refused to accept Akbar’ supremacy. Had he agreed to surrender, Rana Pratap could have led an easy and comfortable life at the court of Akbar. But for this cherished even more than his own life. Greatly outnumbered by Akbar’s huge forces the Rana lived a hunted life in the jungles, and suffered grave hardships. But these sufferings only spurred him on in his struggle for freedom.
The following pages present the tale of Rana Pratap’s heroic struggle against the might of the Mughal Empire.
10. CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA – RETOLD FROM THE MUDRA MANJUSHA
There are various legends about the early career of Chandragupta, and it is difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy in the stories woven around his romantic life. But one thing is certain. He was the first emperor of India, as no other king before him had built an empire as vast as his.
That our story on Chandragupta should be based on a Kannada work is only befitting, for Chandragupta, though born in the North, spent his last days at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka.
Chanakya also known as Kautilya, the hero of this story is the author of the well-known Sanskrit classic Arthashastra.
Chanakya helped Chandragupta, the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, in gaining the throne of the Nandas. According to many scholars, Chandragupta’s success as a king can be ascribed to Chanakya’s advice and guidance.
The story retold here is inspired by the classic Sanskrit play Mudra Rakshasam (The signet ring) written in the 9th Century A. D. by Vishakhadatta of Pataliputra which is believed to be the city of Patna today.
If Harsha is remembered till this day as a great ruler, it is not only because he was a brave military leader, but also because he was a man of noble impulses, a great patron of learning and letters and he had great scholars like Banabhatta, Mayura and Divakara in his court.
Harsha came to occupy the throne of Thaneshwar at a very critical moment in its history. His father had died and his elder brother had been murdered by a powerful enemy. The neighbouring kingdom, Kannauj, ruled by Harsha’s brother-in-law, had been overrun. Harsha not only surmounted these difficulties, but raised the small kingdom of Thaneshwar into the most powerful kingdom in Northern India.
Banabhatta’s Harshacharita gives a detailed account of Harsha’s life till he rescues Rajyashri. We know more about the political and economic conditions of his times from the account of Hiuen Tsang, who visited India during his reign.
13. SAMUDRA GUPTA
When one recalls the Glory that was Ind one first thinks of the golden age of the Guptas. Emperors and Empires, India had seen earlier. But the power and the splendour of the Guptas were unique and none in the dynasty strove harder than Samudra Gupta to achieve them. If he was a benevolent despot he was also a scholar and great soldier.
What little we know about Samudra Gupta is gathered from the coins he issued and from a few inscriptions. In this Chitra Katha we have relied on literary sources and our won imagination to reconstruct the life and times of one of the greatest rulers of our history.
14. NOOR JAHAN
Noor Jahan is one of the most fascinating figures of Mughal India. Noor Jahan was famous for her beauty and wisdom. She was an accomplished poet. She made the rose perfume, invented by her mother, popular. She was adept in embroidery, and the fabrics and dresses designed by her dominated the world of fashion for many years.
As Abdul Rashid observes, Fact and fiction have woven a web of romance around this colourful personality. According to popular legends, from which material from this book has been drawn, Noor Jahan and Jahangir were childhood playmates. But all the available evidence suggests that the two met for the fist time at the Meena Bazaar, the royal bazzar held annually at the palace of the emperor.
15. CHAND BIBI
The story of Chand Bibi is imprinted on the Indian mind as an example of all that is noble and brave in the human spirit.
Into this turbulent scene entered a woman who was to make a sharp impact on history. This woman was Chand Bibi, the sister of Burhan-ul-Mulk. She had been married to Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. After her husband’s death, being childless, she returned to Ahmednagar to train her nephew, Prince Bahadur, in the ways of kingship.
It is tough to be a famous junior, and more so when the senior happens to be Akbar, the Mughal-e-Azam. This was the tragedy of Jahangir.
It was a personal tragedy in which neither Anarkali nor Noor Jahan had any role, though popular stories associate these two women, more than anyone else, with the personality of Jahangir.
The events described here are based on the memoirs of Akbar and Jahangir and other historical records.
17. SHAH JAHAN – THE FIFTH MUGHAL EMPEROR
Shah Jahan was the fifth of the Great Mughals. He was courageous, ambitious, quick-witted and intelligent. He was the favourite of Akbar.
Shah Jahan was a lover and patron of the arts. Painting, music and literature flourished in his reign. But his fame rests mainly on the architectural wonders he created. He laid the foundation of the Red Fort at Delhi in 1638. When, after ten years of sustained work, the construction was completed, he marched into the city in a triumphal procession.
Shah Jahan’s life is a study in contrasts. It touches the heights of happiness and success – and the depths of loss and suffering.
Akbar was the son of Humayun and Hamida Begum. His father was a Sunni, while his mother was a Shia. These were rival Muslim sects but Akbar seemed to lean towards the Shiva doctrine. This made things difficult, for his court had a large number of Sunnis.
Akbar traced his lineage to the great Timur and Chingiz Khan of Turkish and Mongol descent. By his marriage to the Rajput princess of Amber (who was later to become the mother of the future emperor, Jahangir) he sealed his links with Hindustan. After Akbar’s victory at the second Battle of Panipat, there was never again the need to return to Kabul and the mountain regions of his ancestors.
Chandragupta Vikramaditya (A.D. 380-413), the son of Samudragupta, is one of the most familiar and celebrated names in Indian History. He is remembered for his valour, courage, sense of justice and above al his burning patriotism, due to which he succeeded in expelling the Sakas from Western India.
The incidents narrated in this book are based on Devi Chandragupta by Visakhadatta. This work is now lost but a few passages from it, quoted in other books, give us a glimpse of the events narrated in it. There are also references to episodes in the life of Chandragupta in literary works and inscriptions of a later period. Chandragupta Vikramaditya’s reign brought peace and prosperity to a wide area extending from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, and from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas. It is perhaps this that won for Chandragupta Vikramaditya a permanent place in the hearts of the people of India.
Fa-hien, the Chinese pilgrim who traveled over India for more than ten years (A.D. 400-411) during the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya, has left an interesting record of the country and the life of the people inhabiting it.
20. RANI DURGAVATI
Though for all practical purposes, Gondwana, the thickly forested region over which Rani Durgavati ruled, was isolated from the rest of the country and sheltered from the storms that swept over its, it did not escape the cultural and social influences of the north. A number of sages and hermits made it their home, its very isolation making it an ideal place for meditation.
Rani Durgavati, the widow of Jadurai’s descendant, Dalpat Shah, is famous for her heroic resistance to the Mughal, Akbar’s expansionist campaigns. How she bravely faced his vast armies with her small army of 500 men will ever be remembered and retold with pride for generations to come.
21. PRITHVIRAJ CHAUHAN
With the death of Harsha, King of Kanauj, about 647 A.D. his great empire in North India Collapsed. It rapidly disintegrated into several petty kingdoms. This political division weakened the unity of the country and led to several violent disputes between the chieftains of these new kingdoms.
Prithviraj Chauhan was a famous king and warrior. He was noted for his valour and chivalry. Despite his defeat and death, his name has been immortalised and he has become the hero of many legends. The story of Prithviraj Chauhan as told in the following pages is based on these legends.
History chronicles innumerable kings who were brave conquerors and valiant soldiers. But Ashoka stands above them all because he is the only one who at the zenith of his conquests saw the futility of violence and had the courage to renounce it.
This volume is based on the original research of the author into the Mahavamsa, the Dipavamsa, the commentary on the Mahavamsa, and the edicts of Ashoka. Pali manuscripts and other secondary sources have also been extensively studied in gleaning facts which should kindle a new interest in Ashoka.
23. GURU TEGH BAHADUR
Tegh Bhahadur became the Guru of the Sikhs at a time when the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb’s policy of religious intolerance and persecution had antagonized a vast section of his subjects. Denied the freedom to follow their faith, the Hindus of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help and guidance.
Great ingenuity was used in devising new kinds of torture for the Guru and his closest disciples, but Aurangzeb failed to crush their spirit. Thus for a great principle which today is cherished by people in most parts of the world, the Guru laid down his life. Even to this day, he is remembered as Hindu-di-chadar, (literally, the coverlet of India), protector of India’s honour.
24. GURU GOBIND SINGH
Guru Gobind Singh’s short career was not marked by any spectacular achievement in the field of battle. His chief contribution was to convert a pacifist, passive and fatalistic community of Punjabi Sikhs into a militant, aggressive and determined brotherhood of the Khalsa.
Guru Gobind Singh was the last of the Sikhs ten Gurus and one of the greatest poets of the Punjabi language. The qualities that distinguish the Sikhs of today can be traced back to the tradition started by Guru Gobind Singh.
25. ANAND MATH
ANANDA MATH is considered to be a milestone in the history of modern fiction in India. It received such wide acclaim in the late nineteenth century that Bankim Chandra Chatterji, its author, was referred to as the Walter Scott of India. Translations appeared in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu.
In ANANDA MATH, Bankim Chandra portrayed vividly the life of a band of patriotic santaans (children) who had left their hearth and home for the sake of their motherland.
ANANDA MATH was greatly instrumental in fostering militant nationalism in Bengal in the early twentieth century. Many young men of Bengal literally left their hearth and home to join secret societies, emulating the example of the santaans.