Rana Sanga

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Rana Sanga
Rana Sanga
Rana Sanga
Rana of Mewar
PredecessorRana Raimal
SuccessorRatan Singh II
Born1482 CE
Chittor, Mewar
DiedJanuary 1528
SpouseRani Karnavati
Sangram Singh Sisodia
FatherRana Raimal
MotherRatan kunwar

Sangram Singh I (IAST: Rānā Sangrām Simha; c.1482 to 1528 CE), popularly known as Rana Sanga, was a king from the Sisodia dynasty. He ruled Mewar, the traditional territory of Guhilas (Sisodias) in present-day north-western India. However, through his capable rule his kingdom turned into the greatest power of Northern India in early 16th century.[1] He controlled present-day Rajasthan, North Gujarat and Western Madhya Pradesh. His capital was located at Chittor.

In his long military career, Sanga achieved a series of unbroken successes against several neighbouring Muslim kingdoms, most notably the Lodhi dynasty of Delhi. He united several Rajput clans for the first time since the Second battle of Tarain and marched against the Timurid ruler Babur. Despite initial success, Sanga suffered a major defeat at Khanwa through the Timurid's use of gunpowder, which was unknown in North India at the time. He was later poisoned by his own nobles. His defeat at Khanwa is seen as a landmark event in Mughal conquest of Northern India.

His reign was admired by several of contemporaries including Babur, who described him the "greatest Indian king" of that time along with Krishnadevaraya of South India. The Mughal historian Al-Badayuni called Sanga as the bravest of all Rajputs alongside with Prithviraj Chauhan.[2]

Sanga was the last independent Hindu king of Northern India to control a significant territory and in some contemporary texts is described as the Hindu Emperor in Northern India.

Early life and accession[edit]

Chittor fort birthplace of Rana Sangram

Sanga was born to the Sisodia king Rana Raimal and queen Ratan kunwar a (Chahamana (Chauhan) princess). Although contemporary texts of Sisodias does not mention the year of his birth, but provides some of the astrological planetary positions at the time of his birth, calling them auspicious. Based on these positions, assuming certain other planetary positions and on basis of Kumbhalgarh inscription Historian G.H Ojha calculated Sanga's birth year as 1482 CE.[3] Sanga was youngest of the four sons of Raimal, However, due to the circumstances and after a fierce struggle with his brothers in which he lost one of his eye, he finally succeeded throne of Mewar in 1508.[4]

Military career[edit]

After his ascension to the throne, Sanga reunited the warring clans of Rajputana through diplomacy and martial alliances. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, mentions in his memoirs mentions the challenges he faced in India, Babur described Sanga as the greatest infidel king (Hindu) of India along with Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire in South. Babur further said that Sanga had recently grown so great by his audacity and sword that his kingdom include a significant portion of Northern India.[5]

According to legends, Sanga had fought a 100 battles and lost only once. In various struggle he lost his wrist and was crippled in leg. [6] In his illustrious military career, Sanga defeated Sultans of Delhi, Malwa and Gujarat in 18 pitched battles and expanded his domain by conquering much of Present-day Rajasthan, Western Madhya Pradesh and North part of Gujarat.[7] He re-established Rajput rule in Malwa first time after fall of Paramara kingdom in 1305 CE.[8]

He also removed Jizya tax from the Hindus which was earlier imposed by Muslim rulers. He was the last independent Hindu king of Northern India to control a significant territory and in some contemporary texts described as Hindu Emperor. [9]

Conquest of Malwa[edit]

Medini Rai a rebellious minister of Malwa sultan was having a life and death struggle for throne of Malwa against Mahmud, he was promised aid by Rana Sanga.[10] As a result, the combined Muslim forces of Gujaratand Malwa met the Sisodias led by Sanga at Gagron. The battle resulted in complete route of Muslim forces and decisive victory of Rajputs.[11]

After the victory in the battle and other skirmishes aftermath Sanga conquered significant part Malwa along[8] with Chanderi. Rai made Chanderi his capital and became king of Malwa.[12] while Silhaditya Tomar establish himself as master of Raisen and Sarangpur region. According to historian Satish Chandra this events took place between 1518 and 1519.[13]

After the victory and restoring Hindu rule in Malwa, Sanga order Rai to remove Jizya tax from Hindus of the region.[14]

Wars against Delhi Sultanate[edit]

After conquering Malwa, Sanga turned his attention towards northeastern Rajasthan which was then under the control Khilji's ally, Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi, after hearing the news of encroachments by Sanga on his territory, prepared an army and marched against Mewar in 1517. The Rana with his army met Lodi at Khatoli on borders of Hadoti and in the ensuing Battle at Khatoli, Lodi army suffered serious reverses and fled. One Lodi prince was captured and imprisoned. In this battle, Sanga lost an arm by a sword cut, and an arrow made him lame for life.[15]

Lodi, reportedly stunned by this Rajput aggression (the extent of which was unprecedented in the preceding three centuries), once again moved against Mewar in 1518-19 but was humbled again at Battle of Dholpur. Lodi fought Sanga repeatedly, only to be defeated each time, losing his entire land in present-day Rajasthan, while Sanga's influence extended up to the striking distance of Pilia Khar in Agra.[16]

According to a 16th-century text "Parshvanath-Shravan-Sattavisi", Rana Sanga further defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Ranthambore after the Siege of Mandsaur.[17]

Campaign in Gujarat[edit]

In 1520, Sanga invaded Gujarat on the question of the succession of the state of Idar, with his powerful army of 52,000 Rajputs supported by his three vassals. Rao Ganga Rathore of Marwar too joined him with a garrison of 8,000 Rajputs, other allies of Rana were Rawal Udai singh of Vagad and Rao Viram deva of Merta. He defeated the Muslim army of Nizam khan and pursued them to Ahmedabad. Sanga call of his invasion 20 miles before capital Ahemdabad. He plunder down the royal treasuries of Gujarat and destroy several mosques and built temples over them.[18] After a series of victories, Sanga successfully annexed Northern Gujarat and appointed one of his vassals to rule there.[7][19]

Struggle with Mughals[edit]

Early matchlocks, musketeers, swivel guns, mortars and other firearms of Timurids

On 21 April 1526, the Timurid king Babur invaded India for the fifth time and defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the First Battle of Panipat and executed him. After the battle, Sanga unified several Rajput clans for the first time since Prithviraj Chauhan, built an army of 100,000 Rajput soldiers and advanced to Agra.[20]

The Mughals captured Bayana fort which was part of Sanga's empire therefore a major clash took place in Bayana in February 1527 in which Mughal forces of Babur led by Chin Timur khan were defeated by Rajput forces led by Prithviraj kachwaha and later by Rana Sanga (in last parts of siege). The defeat was last of Rana Sanga success as a result the Mughals who were terrified by Rajput valour threatened Babur to leave for Kabul, However Babur confronting a large Hindu army for first time used religious hatred against the Rajputs by declaring the battle as a Jihad against the Kaffirs he further sought divine favour by abjuring liquor, breaking the wine vessels and pouring the wine down a well.[21]

In ensuring battle fought at khanwa, 37 miles (60 km) west of Agra, on March 16. The Mughal were victorious due to their cannons, matchlocks and other firearms. Sanga was struck by an arrow in mid of the battle and was removed from the battle by his brother-in law Prithviraj Kachwaha of Amber along with prince Maldev Rathore in Unconscious state. Following his victory, Babur ordered a tower of enemy skulls to be erected, a practice formulated by Timur against his adversaries, irrespective of their religious beliefs. According to Chandra, the objective of constructing a tower of skulls was not just to record a great victory, but also to terrorize opponents. Earlier, the same tactic had been used by Babur against the Afghans of Bajaur.[22]

Sanga was also betrayed by Silhadi during the battle who changed sides and went over to Babur.[23]

The victory of Mughals is seen as a landmark event in Mughal conquest of North India as the battle turned out to be more historic and eventful than Panipat because it made Babur undisputed master of North India while crushing the threatening and reviving Rajput powers. According to historian Andre Wink after the victory at khanua, The Centre of Mughal power became Agra instead of Kabul and continue to remain till downfall of the Empire after Aalamgir's death.[24][25] According to modern historians had there not been the cannons of Babur, Sanga might have achieved a historic victory against Babur. Babur's cannons had put an end to the outdated trends in Indian warfare.[26]

Death and succession[edit]

Statue depicting Rana Sanga at City Palace, Udaipur

Sanga was taken away from battlefield in unconscious state by Prithviraj Singh I Kachwaha and Maldeo Rathore of Marwar. After regaining consciousness he took an oath to never return to Chittor till he defeated Babur and conquered Delhi. He also stopped wearing Turban and used to wrap up cloth over his head.[27] While he was preparing to wage another war against Babur he was poisoned by his own nobles who did not want another Battle with Babur. He died in Kalpi in January 1528.[28] He was succeeded by his son Ratan Singh II.

After his defeat his Vassal Medini Rai was defeated by Babur at Battle of Chanderi and Babur captured the capital of Rai kingdom Chanderi. Medini was offered Shamsabad instead of Chanderi as it was historically important in conquering Malwa but Rao refused the offer and chose to die fighting. The Rajput women and children committed Self-immolation to save their honour from Muslim army.[27] After the victory Babur captured Chanderi along with Malwa which was ruled by Rai.[29]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ V.S Bhatnagar (1974). Life and Times of Sawai Jai Singh, 1688-1743. Impex India. p. 6. Mewars grand recovery commended under Lakha and later under kumbha and most notably under Sanga it became one of the greatest power in the northern india in first quater of 16th century
  2. ^ Day, Upendra Nath (1978). Mewar Under Maharana Kumbha, 1433 A.D.-1468 A.D. Rajesh Publications. p. 35. Regarding Al Badayuni praise of Kumbha we dont find that instead we find him priasing Rana Sanga and further calling him bravest of all Rajputs along with Rai Pithaura
  3. ^ Somani 1976, p. 171.
  4. ^ Sharma 1954, p. 12-13.
  5. ^ Wink 2012, pp. 157-158. "Reflecting on challenges he faced in India in his memoris Babur described Rana Sanga as one of the two greatest infidel king of India along with Deva Raya of South. who had grown so great by his audacity and sword and whose territory was so large that it covered significant portion of North-Western India"
  6. ^ Puri 2003, p. 107.
  7. ^ a b Sharma 1954, p. 18.
  8. ^ a b Sharma 1970, p. 27 "The early 16th century marks the rise of Patriotic one eyed chief of Mewar named as Rana Sanga who defeat several of his neighbour kingdom and establish Rajput hold on Malwa first time after fall of Parmara dynasty through series of victories over Malwa, Gujarat and Delhi Sultanate"
  9. ^ Somani 1976, pp. 176-179. "Sanga was the last Independent Hindu king who was controlling extensive boundaries"
  10. ^ Chaurasia 2002, pp. 155-156.
  11. ^ Sharma 1954, p. 17.
  12. ^ Chaurasia 2002, p. 156.
  13. ^ Satish Chandra (2003). Essays on Medieval Indian History. Oxford University Press. p. 362. ISBN 978-0-19-566336-5. Rana Sanga of Mewar came in conflict with Sultanates of Malwa, Gujarat and Delhi and repelled all of their invasions. An ensuring battle was fought in Gagron along with other skirmishes in which Rana came Victorious and Subsequently Eastern and Northern Malwa passed under Control of Rana. These events are placed in 1518-19"
  14. ^ Chaurasia 2002, pp. 156,155,158-160.
  15. ^ Sharma 1954, p. 16.
  16. ^ Satish Chandra 2004, pp. 224.
  17. ^ Hooja 2006, p. 451.
  18. ^ Hooja 2006, pp. 450-452.
  19. ^ Chaube 1975, pp. 133-139.
  20. ^ Spear 1990, p. 25.
  21. ^ Sharma 1954, p. 22-27.
  22. ^ Chandra 2006, p. 44.
  23. ^ Sarkar 1960, p. 57. "A treacherous desertion at outset upset Rana Sanga pre-arranged plan of combat. Silhadi, who had made himself a master of raisen and sarangpur and often changed side during troubled time had ultimately turned Muslim to save himself but ultimately joined Rana with his army, He went over to Babur's side from his post in the vanguard of the Hindu army."
  24. ^ Chaurasia 2002, p. 161.
  25. ^ Wink 2012, p. 27.
  26. ^ Barua, Pradeep (2005). The State at War in South Asia. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 33–34. ISBN 978-0-80321-344-9.
  27. ^ a b Sharma 1954, pp. 43
  28. ^ Sharma 1954, pp. 44.
  29. ^ Chaurasia 2002, p. 157.