Durga Das Rathore

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Durga Das Rathore

Durga Das Rathore

When Jaswant Singh Rathore died he had no son and this gave Aurangzeb a chance to appoint a Muslim as the ruler of Marwar. This upset Rathore Rajputs a lot. Two of Jaswant Singh's queens were pregnant when he died. One queen gave birth to Ajit Singh and other to Dalathamban. After Ajit's birth, Rathore generals, chief among them was Durga Das Rathore (a Karnot Rathore) went to Delhi along with the queens and the infants, and asked Aurangzeb that crown of Marwar should be given to Ajit Singh. Aurangzeb was very cunning and he had no intention of handing over the throne of Marwar. He suggested that Ajit should grow up in his harem but internally he wanted to kill them all.

Durga Das sensed this and they smuggled Ajit Singh out of Delhi to the outskirts of the city. When Mughal army came to capture them in Delhi, Durga Das and his men attacked the Mughals and started riding out of Delhi. Raghunandan Bhati and others soaked the streets of Delhi in crimson by flowing the blood of Mughal pursuers. There were about three hundred Rajputs with Durga Das and there were thousands of pursuing Mughals. Every so often 15 - 20 Rajputs would fall behind attack the Mughal pursuers and in the process get themselves killed but it allowed the forward party to create some distance between Ajit and the Mughals. This continued till the evening by which time the Mughals had given up and Durga Das was left with just seven men out of three hundred he started with and reached Jaipur along with Ajit Singh.

The Rajputs founded several cities of modern-day Rajasthan. The historical city of Jodhpur was founded by the Rathore clan of Rajputs.

Thereby started the 30 year Rajput rebellion against Aurangzeb. Mewar and Marwar forces combined together and almost killed Aurangzeb when he was trapped in the mountains of Rajasthan but the Mewar king out of magnanimity allowed Aurangzeb to escape. All the trade routes were plundered by Rajputs and they started looting various treasuries of Rajasthan and Gujarat. To crush them Aurangzeb sent many expeditions but no success. These expeditions and drying up of revenue from trade routes running through Rajasthan had severe effect on his resources. In addition the lion of Maharashtra, Shivaji, had freed almost all of Maharashtra and was at constant war with Aurangzeb. Shivaji had some Rajput ancestry. Finally, on his death-bed Aurangzeb complained that his life had been a complete failure. He was the sole reason for Mughal empire's crumbling. His war campaigns had practically left the treasury dry for his progeny.

Cenotaph of Durga Das Rathore near Ujjain.

Baron De Boigne payed tribute to rajput (rathaura) valor in his memoirs, which were published by his son in 18th century. De Boigne fought the rathaurs, as part of Mahadaji Scindia's army at Tonga, Lalsot and Medta. James Tod describes the fate of Jaswant Singh's family and the birth of his son Ajit Singh. Following excerpt from Page 45,46 of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan:
When Jaswant died beyond the Attock, his wife, the (future) mother of Ajit, determined to burn with her lord, but being in the seventh month of her pregnancy, she was forcibly prevented by Uday Kumpawat. As soon as the tidings reached Jodhpur, the Chandravati queen, taking a turban of her late lord, ascended the pile at Mandore. The Hindu race was in despair at the loss of the support of their faith. The bells of the temple were mute; the sacred shell no longer sounded at sunrise. The queen was delivered of a boy, who received the name of Ajit. As soon as she was able to travel, the Rathore contingent, with their infant prince, his mother, the daughters, and establishment of their late sovereign, prepared to return to their native land. But the unrelenting Aurangzeb, carrying his vengeance towards Jaswant even beyond the grave, as soon they reached Delhi, commanded that the infant should be surrendered to his custody. Aurang offered to divide Maru amongst Marwar nobles if they would surrender their prince; but they replied:
Our country is with our sinews, and these can defend both it and our Lord.

With eyes red with rage, they left the Aum-khas. Their abode was surrounded by the host of the Shah. In a basket of sweetmeats they sent away the young prince, . . . and prepared to defend their honour; they made oblations to the gods, took a double portion of opium, and mounted their steeds. Then spoke Rinchor and Govind, sons of Jodha, and Chandarbhan the Darawat, and the son of Raghu, on whose shoulders the sword had been married at Ujjain, with the fearless Baharmall the Udawat, and the Sujawat, Raghunath. "Let us swim," they exclaimed, "in the ocean of fight. Let us root up these Asuras, and be carried by the Apsaras to the mansions of the sun." Then spake Durga Das Rathore, son of Asakaran, "The teeth of the Yavans are whetted, but by the lightning emitted from our swords, Delhi shall witness our deeds". As thus the chiefs communed, and the troops of the king approached, the Rajloka (wives and daughters of Maharajah Jaswant Singh) of their late lord was sent to inhabit Swarga. Their own wives and daughters, were placed in an apartment filled with gunpowder, and the torch applied--all was soon over. Lance in hand, the Rathores rushed upon the foe, then the music of swords and shields commenced. Wave followed wave in the field of blood. Every tribe and every clan performed its duty in this day's pilgrimage to the stream of the sword, in which Durgadas ground the foe and saved his honour.

Ajit grew up in the mountains of Mt. Abu.

When these brave men saw that nothing short of the surrender of all that was dear to a Rajput was intended by the fiend-like spirit of Aurangzeb, their first thought was the preservation of their prince; the next to secure their own honour and that of their late master. The means by which they accomplished this were terrific. Accordingly, "the battle fought by the sons of Duharia (Rathore king who ruled Marwar in ancient time) in the streets of Delhi" is one of the many themes of everlasting eulogy to the Rathores; and the seventh of Sravan, S.1736 (the second month of the Monsoon of A.D. 1680), is a sacred day in the calendar of Maru.

In the midst of this furious contest, the infant prince was saved. DurgaDas and a few chosen friends repaired to the isolated rock of Abu, and placed him in a monastery of recluses. There the heir of Maru was reared in entire ignorance of his birth. Still rumours prevailed, that a son of Jaswant lived; that Durga and a few associates were his guardians; and this was enough for the loyal Rajput, to be his rallying-word in the defense of his rights.

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