Maharaja Jaswant Singh Rathore: Rajput King who Challenged Aurangzeb’s Intolerance

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The kingdom of Marwar which comprised regions like Jalor, Jodhpur, Ajmer, etc was the home of the gallant Rathors. Their history is filled with the bards of heroism and sacrifice. In our previous article, we had delved deeply into the story of Veer Amar Singh Rathore the man who killed Salabat Khan in front of Shah Jahan and took revenge for his insult.

Continuing our series on Rathore in this article we will cover the story of Amar Singh Rathore’s younger brother, Maharaja Jaswant Singh who ascended the throne of Marwar after the exile of his elder brother Amar Singh. 

Jaswant Singh of Marwa
Image of Maharaja Jaswant Singh Rathore of Marwar

The man who challenged Aurangzeb and his bigotry with utmost bravery. Under the leadership of Maharaja Jaswant Singh the kingdom of Marwar emerged as the guardian of Hindu resistance which was threatened by the emperor of Delhi. Maharaja Jaswant Singh remained loyal to Shah Jahan and fought many battles for him.

But with the rise of Aurangzeb and his assault on Hindu culture, the Rathore king stood as a wall between the bigotry of Aurangzeb and Hindu culture.  

Rise of Maharaja Jaswant Singh

Maharaja Jaswant Singh was the son of Maharaja Guj Singh and ascended the throne of Jodhpur in 1638 and ruled till 1678. He became king at the tender age of 11.

His elder brother Amar Singh Rathore was exiled from the kingdom of Jodhpur and it was Guj Singh’s wish that his younger son i.e. Jaswant Singh should succeed him.

Note: Jaswant Singh held the parganas of Jodhpur, Merta, Sojhat, Sivano etc.

Jaswant Singh also composed several books. Some of them were Anand Vilas, Bhasa Bhusan, Prabodhchandroday, Siddhant Bodh, etc. Furthermore, Muhnot Nainsi the historian who had written a lot about the history of Rajput was Jaswant Singh’s court historian.  

He emerged as a formidable force during the reign of Aurangzeb and even fought against him in several battles. He also challenged the bigotry policies of Alamgir and countered them in his way.

He established friendly ties with Emperor Shah Jahan and the latter invited the new Maharaja after the demise of his father and gave him the title of Maharaja on 6 January 1654. Throughout his reign, Jaswant Singh fought several battles. The Mughals also sent him to Jamrud (in Afghanistan) to counter the foreign invasion.

Struggle Against Aurangzeb

Jaswant Singh had amicable ties with the imperial Mughals. Shah Jahan admired his loyalty towards the Mughals. But things took a serious turn when the emperor’s sons began to fight among themselves for the throne of Delhi.

Maharaja Jaswant Singh
Image of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

The ailing Shah Jahan wanted Dara Shikho to succeed him however his younger son ie Aurangzeb proved to be a tough opponent. The emperor gave Jaswant Singh the charge to finish the yoke of Aurangzeb who had marched toward Delhi.

Betrayal At Dharmat

Jaswant with his loyal Rajputs along with imperial Mughal guards. On 15 April 1658, Jaswant Singh and his Rajput Mughal troops stood face-to-face against the army of Aurangzeb and his brother Murad in the field of Dharmat.

However, the imperial Mughal guards of Jaswant Singh sided with Alamgir and betrayed their emperor. With the retreat of Imperial guards, the Rajputs became defenseless. However, despite the imperial guards’ betrayal, Jaswant Singh and his Rathore decided to put up a heroic fight and Rathors decimated around 10,000 Mughals of Aurangzeb.

Later the Rajputs retreated from the field and Aurangzeb didn’t chase the Rathors. The courageous Rathors of Jaswant Singh lost their lives but it increased their prestige. Later Alamgir defeated Dara in the battle of Samugarh in May 1658 near Agra.

After that, he imprisoned Shah Jahan. Alamgir was aware of Maharaja Jaswant Singh’s military might and immediately he tried to gain the support of the Rathore king to get rid of his brother Shuja. Jaswant Singh used this opportunity to shatter both sides (Aurangzeb and Shuja).

Attack on Aurangzeb

The Marwar king agreed to join Aurangzeb and on 7 January 1659, they both faced the forces of Shuja at the battle of Khajuwa near Allahabad.  This was the time when the Rathors decided to make their move. Jaswant plundered and looted the Mughal camp Aurangzeb. They even went further and killed those Mughal officers who tried to retaliate.

However, Aurangzeb defeated Shuja and crowned himself the emperor in 1659 but the defection of Jaswant Singh gave him deep scars. Aurangzeb tried to reduce the power of Marwar and Jaswant Singh.

He appointed the Rathore king as the viceroy of Gujarat and sent him away from the politics of the North to counter the rising Hindu Maratha power of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.  

However, Maharaj Jaswant never committed himself wholeheartedly to Aurangzeb. When he reached Deccan under the generalship of Prince Muazzam he stealthily forged an agreement with Shivaji Raje to assassinate Mughal general Shaista Khan.

Alamgir got infuriated by Jaswant’s attitude towards him and he removed the Rathore king from Deccan and appointed Mirza Raja Jai Singh in his place.

Note: Maharaja Jaswant Singh was the immovable barricade between Alamgir and his religious intolerance. The Marwar king was always the first one who opposed the emperor’s bigotry towards Hindus and retaliated in his way.

The Protector of Hindu Temples

According to the Book Glories of Marwar and The Glorious Rathors Jaswant Singh indirectly checked Aurangzeb’s religious intolerance towards non-Muslims. Furthermore when Alamgir ordered his governors to prohibit idol worship and launch his temple-breaking policies the Marwar king threatened the Mughals proclaiming that in return he would desecrate all the Mosques of Kabul.

Later the emperor sent the Marwar king to aid the Mughals against the Marathas but Jaswant Singh as he had done previously defected the Mughals. Together with Muazzam Jaswant tried to assassinate Delhier Khan the Mughal general of Deccan. The emperor saw enough and in 1671 he ordered the Maharaja to move towards Khyber Pass to suppress Afghans.   

The plan of Alamgir worked and without Jaswant Singh Marwar became vulnerable. Jaswant Singh died in the year 1678 in the mountains of Jamrud (Peshawar) without an heir which gave the Mughals the perfect opportunity to silence the kingdom of Marwar. However, the plans of the Mughals met with a setback due to the rise of Durgadas Rathore


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