Rana Sanga: Who was he and why you should know about this great Rajput King
Medieval history of India is full of countless invasions of the Turks and Arabs. From the formation of Delhi Sultanate to the establishment of the Mughal Empire, our ancestors had fought countless battles to free the sub-continent from the foreign rule. We already know that the North western frontier of Indian sub-continent was always first target of the invading armies.
The invasions of the Arabs, Ghaznavids, Ghoris, Khilji’s and many more had a significant role in shaping the medieval history of the Indian subcontinent.
The Chivalrous Rajputs who ruled most of the North western frontiers of India were always the first one to stop these invading armies. But their sagas of heroics and stories of indomitable valor didn’t catch the attention of modern historians.
One such Rajput kings who’s name might be well known in Rajasthan but outside of the state he had been long forgotten is Maharana Sangram Singh or Rana Sanga ,who not only crushed the Sultanates of Gujarat, Malwa, and Delhi but even defeated the Turko Mongol army of the first Mughal emperor Babur.
We can appreciate the courage of Rana Sanga from the fact that before defeating the Mughal army of Babur at Banaya he had more than 80 wounds all over his body, was blind from one eye, and had lost his one leg and arm- all in battles.
Background and Journey of Rana Sanga
Rana Sanga (Maharana Sangram Singh) was born on 12 April 1482. He belonged to the Sisodiya Clan of the Rajputs.
After the death of Rana Raimal (son of Maharana Kumbha) who ruled Mewar from 1473 to 1508, there was an intense battle for the throne of Mewar. Initially, Rana Raimal’s elder son i.e. Prithviraj came out to be the ablest ruler.
To establish his rule on Mewar, Prithviraj started to subjugate every possible obstacle that could stop him from becoming the Maharana of Mewar. One obstacle between the throne of Mewar and Prithviraj was Rana Sanga. To permanently remove Rana Sanga his elder brother Prithviraj blinded his one eye. Later Rana Sanga was forced to leave Chittor and took refuge in Ajmer.
But after the death of Prithviraj, Ranga Sanga rose to power and ascended the throne of Mewar in 1508. It was Rana Sanga who brought back the lost prosperity and dominance of Mewar through his indomitable courage, military leadership, and diplomatic tactics.
Rise of Rana Sanga
During Rana Sanga’s reign, Mewar was surrounded by Malwa sultanate from south. The sultanate of Malwa had already been defeated countless times by Sanga’s grandfather i.e. Rana Kumbha. At the same time the Sultanate of Gujarat was still active and was much stronger as compared to its previous times. Muzaffar Shah was the Sultan of Gujarat during Rana Sanga’s reign.
In north, the Sultanate of Delhi threatened the borders of Rajputana under the leadership of Ibrahim Lodhi. The Lodhis(Afghan by race) sultanate of Delhi rose to power in the year of 1451 under Bahlol Lodhi. The Afghans of Delhi sultanate followed the same expansionist policy of previous sultans like Alauddin Khilji and the Tughlaq’s.
Due to this expansionist policy of the Sultans ,Mewar was again surrounded from three sides. The Lodhis were able to subjugate the Tomars of Gwalior and the situation of Mewar became pretty much similar to the situation during Rana Kumbha’s reign.
Seeing the rising threat from the sultans , Rana Sanga decided to bring back the lost unity of the Rajputs. In 1514 ,Rana Sanga annexed the northern territory of Gujarat region through the battle of Idar.
After this loss ,the sultan of Gujarat decided to charge the army of Rana Sanga but he too was defeated in 1517 and again in1518.
After this ,Rana Sanga strictly focused on uniting the Rajputs of the entire Rajputana through his diplomatic leadership. This coalition of the Rajputs under Rana Sanga helped them to dominate central India.
Rana Sanga and War against Delhi Sultanate : Battle of Khatoli
When Ibrahim Lodhi became the Sultan of Delhi in 1517 CE, the Rajputs under Rana Sanga were able to establish a strong and united army. Tense from the rising power of the Rajputs , Ibrahim Lodhi decided to invade Mewar and in 1518 the armies of expansionist Ibrahim Lodhi and Chivalrous Rajputs under Rana Sangram Singh met in the field of Khatoli in 1518 CE.
The battle resulted in a total disaster for the Afghani Sultanate of Delhi. The army of Ibrahim Lodhi was forced to retreat all the way to Agara. But Rana Sanga lost his one arm and one leg in this battle.
Later in 1519 , Ibrahim Lodhi decided to attack the Mewar kingdom of Rana Sanga from two fronts. For this he made an accord with the Sultan of Malwa. But this coalition of Lodhi and Malwa went in vain. In 1519 the outnumbered Rajputs decisively defeated Ibrahim lodhi in the battle of Dholpur. Soon after this victory the Rajputs were able to control the northern territories of Malwa.
Battle against Malwa Sultanate
After defeating Delhi Sultanate twice Rana Sanga focused on subjugating the Sultanate of Malwa which at that time no one could have even imagined. At this time, Rana Sanga had lost one arm, one leg, was blind from one eye and had more than 80 wounds on his body even then Rana Sanga didn’t back down from his goal of freeing his land from alien rule.
Mahmud Khilji 2 was the sultan of Malwa in 1519 CE. The two armies of Malwa and Mewar collided in the fields of Gagron. The sultan was defeated and captured after the battle.
Battle Against Gujarat Sultanate
In the year of 1520 CE the sultan of Gujarat i.e. Malik Hussain attacked the southern frontiers of Rajputana. As a result of it fourth battle of Idar was fought between Gujarat sultan and Rana Sanga.
The sultan’s army was defeated again he was forced to retreat to Ahemdabad. Rana Sanga and his army chased him all the way to Ahemdabad. The sultan surrendered in front of Rana Sanga and he later took all the wealth of Gujarat.
Later in the same year, as had happened during Rana Kumbha’s reign the two sultanate of Gujarat and Malwa raided the southern territories Mewar (Battle of Mandasaur).
The result of this was the same i.e. defeat of the coalition armies of the two sultans and victory of Rajputs under Rana Sanga
March against Turko Mongol Army of Babur
Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, was the founder of the Mughal Empire in India and in modern day Pakistan. In 1504 he captured Kabul and successfully raided the several territories of India. In 1526 the Mughal army under Babur which was full of mercenary and artillery support defeated the army of Ibrahim Lodhi at the battle of Panipat.
Click HERE to read in detail about this battle: How Mughals entered India: Detailed analysis of the First Battle Of Panipat (1526)
Note: There is a big debate over the first battle of Panipat. Some historians believe that it was Rana Sanga who invited Babur to attack Delhi. While many historians believe that Babur wanted help from Rana Sanga to defeat Ibrahim Lodhi.
But one thing that is clear from history is that during panipat Rana Sanga was the only powerful ruler of India who was controlling much larger territories than Babur. So it is easy to believe that Babur might have asked support from Rana Sanga but Rana Sanga refused.
After the battle of Panipat, Babur was sure that he has to ready for another gigantic battle to secure his hold on Delhi. The main reason that Babur gave for his attack on Rana Sanga was that he had refused to help him at Panipat battle against Lodhis
Forgotten Battle of Banaya: First Defeat of Mughals Under Babur at the hands of Rajputs
After capturing Delhi, Babur decided to attack Rana Sanga as soon as possible. In 1536-1527, a two months long battle between the Turko Mongol army of Babur and Chivalrous Rajputs under Rana Sanga took place in the fields of Bayana (near Agra).
The Mughals were defeated and were forced to retreat to Agra. This time Rana Sanga didn’t follow the policy of wiping out the invading enemies as he did against the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat.
He was sure that from this defeat Babur will not attack him and this gave Babur enough time to prepare for final climax at Khanwa. The undefeated Rajput king had finally made a miscalculated move and this would prove to be a heavy mistake on his part.
Battle of Khanwa
On 16 March 1527 CE, the rejuvenated Turko Mongol forces of Babur once again stood face to face against united forces of Rajputs under Rana Sanga.
Although the army of Babur was outnumbered but their experience of wars against steppe nomads of Central Asia gave them a huge advantage. During the fierce battle of Khanwa, Rana Sanga got injured and fell unconscious. Due to this the fellow Rajputs decided to take him to safety. Due to this , the battle resulted in a huge victory of the Mughals. This was the first and last defeat of Rana Sanga.
He wanted to take the revenge of this defeat and ordered to assemble the remaining army of the Rajputs to face Babur at the banks of river Betwa.
But due to the injuries and probably being poisoned by his own men as they didnt want to fight a lost battle against Babur and his artillery . Rana Sanga– The brave son of India attained martyrdom on 30 January 1528.
Legacy of Rana Sanga
Rana Sanga is remembered as one of the strongest Indian kings to have ever lived. Belonging to the royal seat of Rajput – Mewar, he is among the other great kings that the kingdom has given like Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, Maharana Pratap. Rana Sanga not only defeated his enemies but accompalished something that was not expected by anyone- UNITING THE RAJPUT CLANS and defeating the Delhi Sultanate. Had it not been for his decision to not finish the Mughal army after defeating them at Banyana, Indian history would have been a lot different.
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