History of Rajasthan
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The ancient civilised history of Rajasthan goes back to 5,000 years ago when in the present day districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar, along with other areas of jaipur district bordering south Haryana, which formed the part of Vedic state of Brahmavarta along with districts of Mahendragarh and Rewari in Haryana, that Vedic seers started composing Vedic scriptures, which form part of Sanatan Dharma, the base of present day Hinduism. Revered Saraswati and Drishadwati rivers formed the then Brahmavarta state. Drishadwati river is identified as the Vedic Drishadwati by Bhargava. Parts of Rajasthan may have been occupied by the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappans). Excavations at Kalibanga in northern Rajasthan around 1998 revealed the existence of human settlements of Harappan times on the banks of a river that dried up later, which some people believe to be the Saraswati, archaeologists hope the Saraswati will unlock mysteries of the past. Rajasthan's geographic position in India has caused it to be affected by the expansionist efforts of various empires. It was a part of the Maurya Empire around 321-184 BCE.
After the defeat of Chauhan in 1992 CE, a part of Rajasthan came under Muslim rulers. The principal centers of their powers were Nagaur and Ajmer. Ranthambhor was also under their suzerainty. At the beginning of the 13th century, 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 united the various Rajput clans and fought against the foreign powers in India. Rana Sanga defeated the Afghan Lodi Empire of Delhi and crushed the Turkic Sultanates of Malwa and Gujarat. Rana Sanga was later defeated at Khanwa aginst the Mughal Empire because of treachery from the Tomar king Silhadi.
Akbar arranged matrimonial alliances to gain the trust of Rajput rulers. He himself married the Rajput princess Jodha Bai, the daughter of the Maharaja of Amer. He also granted high offices to a large number of Rajput princes and this maintained very cordial relations with them. Before long, these actions caused many previously hostile Rajputs to be his friends, and many of them surrendered their kingdoms to him. Rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amer were trusted allies. However, some 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 Haldighat 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.
When Rajput rulers lost their lands to invaders during the medieval period, their womenfolk would commit suicide by self-immolation on a pyre. This was a gesture to protect their chastity and self-respect, and it 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.
Since the early 1700s, the Maratha Empire began expanding northwards, led by Peshwa Baji Rao I of Pune. This expansion finally brought the newly founded Hindu Maratha Empire in contact with the Rajputs. Rajasthan saw many invasions by the Marathas, under military leadership of Holkars and Scindhias. Most of Rajputana passed under the control of the Maratha Empire and continued to pay tribute to Pune till the British East India Company replaced the Marathas as paramount rulers.
The arrival of the British East India Company in the region led to the administrative designation of some geographically, culturally, economically and historically diverse areas, which had never shared a common political identity, under the name of the Rajputana Agency. This was a significant identifier, being modified later to Rajputana Province and lasting until the renaming to Rajasthan in 1949. The Company officially recognised various entities, although sources disagree concerning the details, and also included Ajmer-Merwara, which was the only area under direct British control. Of these various areas, Marwar and Jaipur were the most significant in the early 19th-century, although it was Mewar that gained particular attention from James Tod, a Company employee who was enamoured of Rajputana and wrote extensively, if often uncritically, of the people, history and geography of the Agency as a whole. Alliances were formed between the Company and these various princely and chiefly entities 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 (princely state), and the Jat states Bharatpur, [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.
The name of Rajasthan was probably popularised by Tod and during his lifetime some people believed that he had coined it. Although he claimed that it was the classical name for the region, the term seems first to be documented in an inscription dating from 1708 and to have become popular by his time.
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 States 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 provisions of the States Re-organisation Act, the erstwhile part 'C' state of Ajmer, Abu Road Taluka, former part of Sirohi princely state (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 power other than status symbol. Many of the Maharajas still hold their palaces and have converted them into profitable hotels, 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 Pratapgarh, there are 33 districts, 105 sub-divisions, 37,889 villages, 241 tehsils and 222 towns in Rajasthan.
Gurumukh Nihal Singh was appointed as first governor of Rajasthan. Hiralal Shastri was the first nominated chief minister of the state, taking office on 7 April 1949. He was succeeded by two other nominated holders of the office before Tika Ram Paliwal became the first elected chief minister from 3 March 1951.
- Sudhir Bhargava, "Location of Brahmavarta and Drishadwati river is important to find earliest alignment of Saraswati river" Seminar, Saraswati river-a perspective, Nov. 20-22, 2009, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, organised by: Saraswati Nadi Shodh Sansthan, Haryana, Seminar Report: pages 114-117
- Naravane, M. S. The Rajputs of Rajputana: A Glimpse of Medieval Rajasthan. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Freitag, Jason (2009). Serving empire, serving nation: James Tod and the Rajputs of Rajasthan. Leiden: Brill. p. 36. ISBN 978-90-04-17594-5.
- Gupta & Bakshi (2008), p. 142
- Gupta, R. K.; Bakshi, S. R. (2008), Studies In Indian History: Rajasthan Through The Ages: The Heritage Of Rajputs, 1, Sarup & Sons, ISBN 9788176258418
- Padmanābha, ., & Bhatnagar, V. S. (1991). Kanhadade Prabandha: India's greatest patriotic saga of medieval times : Padmanābha's epic account of Kānhaḍade. New Delhi: Voice of India.
- Sharma, G. N., Bhatnagar, V. S., & University of Rajasthan. (1992). The Historians and sources of history of Rajasthan. Jaipur: Centre for Rajasthan Studies, University of Rajasthan.