Amar Singh Rathore
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Amar Singh Rathore (11 December 1613 - 25 July 1644) was a Rajput nobleman affiliated with the royal house of Marwar, and a courtier of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in seventeenth-century India. After he was disinherited and exiled by his family, he entered the Mughals' service. His legendary bravery and battle prowess resulted in elevation to a high rank in the imperial nobility and personal recognition by the emperor, who made him the subedar (governor) of a region that was directly ruled by the emperor himself, Nagaur. In 1644, he was enraged by an attempt by the emperor to levy a fine on him for an unauthorized absence. In the emperor's presence, he stabbed and killed Salabat Khan, who had been asked to collect the fine. He is celebrated in some popular ballads of Rajasthan, Western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Raja Gaj Singh was ruling Marwar region under Mughul ruler Shah Jahan. His son Amar Singh Rathore was a great warrior and a patriot but was disinherited by his father and exiled for saving a bandit from the Mughals. Later, he joined Shah Jahan in Delhi Sultanate. Shah Jahan impressed by his gallantry made him Jagirdar of Nagaur. However Salabat Khan, brother-in-law of the emperor, was envious of Amar Singh Rathore's rise in the state and was waiting for an opportunity to discredit Amar Singh. He got this opportunity soon when he learned about some trifle about Amar Singh's unauthorised absence. Salabat blew it up as an issue so much that the Moghul Monarch asked Salabat to fine Amar Singh. Taking advantage of this, Salabat insisted that Amar Singh had to pay the penalty then and there. Salabat also warned he would not let go of Amar Singh without him paying the penalty. Amar felt deceived and was furious over the way Salabat heckled him. He took out his sword out and hacked Salabat on the spot. Emperor Shah Jahan was taken aback and ordered his soldiers to kill Amar Singh. However, valiant Amar showed his battle skills and killed almost all of those who came upon him. He soon escaped from the fort, and returned safely to his place.
Shah Jahan was furious at Amar's misadventure and annoyed by the fact his force couldn't kill Amar. So, on the next day in court, the emperor announced that a jagir (land grant) will be given to those who would kill Amar Singh. However, no one was ready to take a chance with Amar Singh Rathore, as they had faced his wrath just a day before. Arjun, Amar Singh's brother-in-law, accepted the challenge, lured by the emperor's offer of a jagir. Arjun approached Amar claiming the Monarch realised his mistake and would not lose a warrior like Amar. Even though Amar was not convinced at the beginning, he soon fell to Arjun's art of treachery.
Meanwhile, a small door was erected in front of the court of Shah Jahan, so that tall Amar Singh would have to bend before the Monarch to enter the court. Having watched Amar's valiant acts earlier and also the proceedings in the court, a curious Fakir asked the emperor "Jahanpanah, how could we conquer Hindustan having so many Warriors" Shah Jahan replied "wait and see how we did". Bowing before anyone was considered a form of showing respect and accepting his kingship. Amar was unwilling to bow before the emperor, and Arjun knowing Amar's view advised him to first enter with the legs, and the lower trunk. While Amar paid heed to his advice, Arjun came from the other side and stabbed him in the chest several times until Amar Singh fell to the ground and died. Then Arjun severed his head and took it to the Emperor. The monarch turned to the Fakir and said "Now you know how we got rid of the warriors". Later Shah Jahan did not keep his word to Arjun and had him killed too.
On hearing of Amar Singh's death, his wife along with the Rajput soldiers headed by Bhallu Singh and Ram Singh attacked the fort where the body of Amar Singh was lying. However, thousands of Moghul soldiers surrounded the Rajput forces. The valiant Rajput forces resisted them until Amar Singh's body was taken away from the fort. Though all of those Rajput fighters laid down their lives, they never bowed to the superiority of the Moghul Sultanate. Later on, the narrow door in the fort was popularly known as Amar Singh Darwaza (Amar Singh's Door) as it marked Rajput gallantry over the Muslim army. Some historians claim that Shah Jahan ordered the door to be closed permanently as it would remind him of his near defeat at the hands of Rajput forces. Folklore created a heart-rending song-dance show from this legend, in praise of Rajput Warriors who fought for self-respect and boast of pride.
Commemoration in popular culture
Amar Singh Rathore is considered an icon of extraordinary might, will, and freedom. Neither fear, nor greed were able to affect his decisions. He died as a free man. The bravery of Amar Singh Rathore and Ballu Champavat is still remembered in folk songs in Rajasthan and around Agra. A Hindi movie based on Amar Singh was made in 1970, named 'Veer Amar Singh Rathore' and directed by Radhakant. Dev Kumar, Kumkum and Zeba Rehman were the lead actors of the movie in Black and White. A Gujarati movie was also made on the same subject and the lead role was played by Gujarati Super-star Upendra Trivedi. A gate of Agra Fort was named after him as 'Amar Singh Gate' which is a major tourist attraction in Agra. A small excerpt from a Punjabi ballad on Amar Singh Rathore describes his angry entry into Shah Jahan's Diwan-i-Khas and Salabat Khan's attempts to hold him back. -
- Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Casting kings: bards and Indian modernity, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-530434-3,
... Amar Singh Rathore was seventeenth-century noble belonging to Jodhpur's royal Rajput family during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ... made the emperor's representative (subedar) of Nagaur district ...
- Thomas William Beale, A oriental biographical dictionary: founded on materials collected by the late Thomas William Beale, Kraus Reprint, 1881,
... Sala'bat Khan, صلابت خان, a nobleman who held the title of Mir Bakhshi or paymaster general in the time of the emperor Shah Jahan. He was stabbed in the presence of the emperor by a Rajput chief named Amar Singh Rathor the son of Gaj Singh ...
- R. C. Temple, Legends of the Panjab, Part 3, Kessinger Publishing, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7661-6349-2,
... Jabbal kadhi misri nikali do dhari, Mare Salabat Khan di ja khili pari ...