Bundelkhand is situated along the Vindhya mountains between modern-day Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. This region was once ruled by the power Chadellas who are famous for the Temple architecture and valor. One of the most renowned Chandella rulers was King Vidhyadhara who repulsed an invasion from the Mahmud Ghazni.
But after the fall of this great kingdom, the region was subjugated by the Turks of Delhi Sultanate which brought nothing but misery to the ancient land of this region.
But history repeats itself and for the protection of this country and the innocents several kings had risen against the alien rule of its draconian policies.
Bundela is derived from Boond or drop of blood in Hindi
Rise of Maharaja Chhatrasal Bundela
Chhatrasal Bundela was born in the year 1649 AD (in Maur Hill). He drew his inspiration from his father i.e. Champat Rai who revolted against the alien rule of the Mughal Empire. When his beloved father attained martyrdom (from Suicide when he was hemmed by the Mughal army of Aurangzeb) in the year 1661 the young Chatrasal was only 12 years old.
Note: After the death of Champat Rai his wife i.e. Lal Kunwar committed sati to save her honor.
He was present in the last battle of his father against the Mughal and from these valiant campaigns, he gathered the courage to free Bundelkhand from Aurangzeb’s rule.
Initially, he joined the Mughals and on the recommendation of a renowned Rajput king Mirza Raja Jai Singh he was recruited in the Mughal army of Aurangzeb to support the Deccan campaigns of Alamgir.
But serving the alien rule which brought chaos and misery to Bundelkhand was unacceptable for Chatrasal Bundela. Furthermore, his father’s incessant struggle against the Mughal kept the flames of independent Bundelkhand alive in his heart.
At the same time, a powerful Maratha hero rose in the Shyadari’s and his name was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. While serving the Mughal campaigns in Deccan Chatrasal Bundela got inspired by the heroic of Shivaji Maharaj.
The hero who gave India the idea of Hindawi Swaraj killed Afzal khan and defeated the Adil Shahis in the battle of Pratapgad. These acts inspired Chatrasal to revolt and fight for the freedom of Bundelkhand.
He joined the famous campaign of the Mughals in the year 1665 which was led by Mirza Raja Jay Singh and Diler Khan. After this comes the siege of Purandar (May 1665 CE) which completely changed the mindset of this young king forever.
He realized that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was fighting for the independence of Maa Bharti from foreign rule even when everyone is against him.
Note: After the treaty of Purandar Chatrasal was given a mansab of 250 horsemen (cavalry).
The Famous meet
Later in the year 1670, he met Shivaji Maharaj and decided to follow his path of Hindawi Swaraj. It is believed that Shivaji Maharaj granted him a Bundel sword.
Jadunath Sarkar in his book Shivaji and his times mentioned that Maharaja Chatrasal tricked the Mughals in the name of hunting and reached the capital of the Maratha to join the service of Raje.
Towards independence of Bundelkhand
On the advice of Shivaji Maharaj, Chatrasal launched his revolt in his kingdom to distract the focus of the Mughals. However, this was a difficult task as the Mughals under Aurangzeb were crushing every single insurrection. Furthermore, many Hindu kings had already become allies of the Mughals.
But then Aurangzeb launched his bigotry policy and campaigns that enraged most Hindus. The Temple destruction policy of Aurangzeb helps Chatrasal to gain some followers in the region of Malwa and Bundelkhand.
Due to this, the wave of nationalism and freedom from Mughal rule reached its zenith and Chatrasal took full advantage of it. The initial campaigns of Chatrasal were on Dhamuni district and on the eastern part of Bundelkhand. He defeated the Mughal forces there and people now claimed him as the savior of Hindus.
From 1668-1678 Maharaja Chatrasal raided several Mughal forts which were loosely guarded. During his time he defeated the Mughal Faujdars like Randaullah khan, Hashim Khan, Fidai khan.
An ascetic name Sant Prannat became the spiritual guru of Maharaja Chatrasal. Sant Prannat agrees to guide his new follower and went to Bundelkhand. It is believed that it was Sant Prannat who gave the title of Maharaja to Chatrasal and also made the discovery of the famous diamond mine (Panna) possible.
He also initiated a task to collect taxes from the defeated territories. Later he annexed Dhamuni, Kalinjar and also raided Bhilsa. It is believed that around 1670 he killed the faujdar of Ranod who previously repulsed the attack of Chatrasal.
Chatrasal carved out a large and powerful kingdom in the eastern part of Bundelkhand. From these defeats, the Mughals became more and more anxious, and to put an end to the activities of Maharaja Chatrasal they sent Jaswant Singh a Mughal Mansabdar to finish him.
However, the Mughals were able to stop Chatrasal and forced him to surrender to accept Aurangzeb’s suzerainty. But this was a tactical move from the Maharaja who decided to live today and fight tomorrow.
In 1686 Maharaja again launched his expeditions against Mughal contingents.
Note: A peace treaty was again signed by Maharaja with the Mughals in the year 1696 probably just to recover from the war losses.
In the year 1696 Chatrasal captured the fort of Kalinjar along with parts of Banda, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Jalaun, Kalpi, etc. He continued his incessant struggle against the Mughals at all cost. In the year 1700, several expeditions were launched by the Mughals to subdue him but all went in vain.
In the year 1705, he signed a peace treaty with the Mughals and was given 4 Hazari Mansab. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire collapsed, and with this Maharaja Chatrasal Bundela’s long struggle also ended. But the story of Maharaja and his valorous campaigns against the Mughals haven’t caught the attention of Historians.
Whenever we talk about the brilliance of the Great Maratha Hero i.e. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj we should not forget that at the same time a Hindu warrior in northern India was also fighting relentlessly to save his empire and Swaraj from Aurangzeb’s rule.
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