The previous article ended with the ill-fated mine blast that claimed many lives of both the Mughal army and the Hindu defenders of the fort.
“This stream flowed to Paradise, that to Hell,
Though the blood of Guebre and the believer both flowed in one place.”
This is what Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh records on one of the mines blowing off prematurely and thus killing friends and foe alike.
After this debacle, Tarikh-i-Alfi records that while the enemy showed a brave front despite considerable losses to their ranks, the Imperial Army was ready to succumb and give up the battle. Such was the loss that the Mughal Army faced. But no one dared to say this to Akbar, who was now very adamant to reduce the fort.
Abul Fazal in Akbarnama asserts that Akbar had foreseen such an accident could occur and hence had asked to be cautious but Kabir Khan and other superintendents thought otherwise and the worse happened. Fazal says nearly 200 men from the imperial troops died, out of which 100 were important officers. 20 amongst the important officers were personally known to Akbar.
Udaipur Rajya ka Itihaas by Ojha gives us an estimate of the number of Hindu lives lost on this fateful day. He says that about 50 Rajputs were blown away in this blast. On the same day, yet another mine was blown in Asaf Khan;’s battery which killed nearly 30 Hindu warriors. Although the imperial army suffered no damage in that blast, it did not help the siege in any way. The intention was to kill the Hindu morale completely but instead, the Mughal army lost its nerve.
As mentioned before the Imperial army was ready to give up, while Hindus on the fort continued to defend the fort, showing great bravery.
While Tarikh-i-Alfi records that the entire Mughal garrison was disheartened and ready to surrender, Akbarnama asserts that the Mughal garrison was ready to fight more than ever. But both agree, albeit, reluctantly to one thing, the defenders of the fort put up a brave fight. The wall that had blown up in the explosion of the mine was rebuilt to the same height as the former fort wall was.
Imagine building a wall as high as that of Chittorgarh amid a war with a murderous enemy hell-bent on not letting construction happen.
The fight continued in this manner with the Hindu faction fighting most valiantly and keeping the enemies at bay. Akbar had many close calls during this time. At one point, a bullet managed to reach close to him but killed the man standing next to him (source- Udaipur Rajya ka Itihaas).
Abul Fazal also mentions a couple of such incidents. Once when Akbar was examing the work of his soldiers when one bullet whizzed past him and hit Jalal Khan who was beside him. The second was when he was examining batteries and a cannonball fell very near to him, killing almost 20 from the Imperial army.
These and many other such close calls have been hailed by Abul Fazal as Devine assistance and he asserts that this helped in boosting the morale of the Mughal army. Finally, the construction of the Sabat was completed under the supervision of Todarmal and Qasim Khan Mir.
In the words of Abul Fazal, “Excellent quarters were constructed on the top of the Sabat, and H.M. stayed in them for two nights and one day before the work was completed, and directed the operations.”
These two nights when Akbar himself directed the conflict, both sides neither took water nor food. The result was that both sides were exhausted. The fort was breached in multiple places. Jaimal Rathore took it upon himself as the chief of the fort to encourage the repairs work. It was while he was on one such excursion that a lucky shot by Akbar from his favourite gun Sangram injured him and the Rajputs had to opt for Jauhar, knowing very well that without a commander, the army was at loss.
The sequence of events is thus,
On that fateful night, the Mughal army had managed to breach the fort walls in many places. While the defenders of the fort (the Rajputs) defended those breaches to the best of their ability, some of them filled those breaches with cotton, wood, muslin and other such material that would catch fire easily. The plan was simple, in case the Mughal army got any closer, they would set fire to those items, thereby buying them some more time and stopping the advance of the enemy.
It was then that Akbar spotted Jaimal Rathore dressed in clothes that set him apart from the common soldiers. He was dressed in such a manner that was indicative of his being a chieftain or a person of importance. Abkar, having spotted him, raised his gun Sangram and aimed at him. He inferred that he had hit the man and he said so to Bhagwan Das and Shujaat Kahn who were with him.
Khan Jahan added that he (Jaimal Rathore) had been directing the soldiers and the entire proceeding the entire night. If he didn’t return, it would mean that he was killed.
Within an hour of this extremely lucky (or rather unlucky for the Hindu faction) shot, Jabbar Quli Diwana reported that the defenders of the fort had almost completely disappeared inside the fort. At about the same time, small fires flared up in various places in the fort, puzzling the Imperial army.
Various courtiers had different suggestions to make, but it was Bhagwan Das who asserted that the fires were fires of Jauhar, a tragic step taken by the Hindu warriors when defeat was inevitable.
In face of defeat, especially from the Islamic forces, huge fires were built and women and children jumped into those fires to their death. It was to prevent capture and enslavement at the hands of the barbaric who viewed women as maal-e-ghanimat (war booty) and hence fit to be enslaved, raped and used in whichever way they deemed fit. To save themselves from such a terrible fate they chose to die with their honour intact.
This was not the first Jauhar that the fort had witnessed. The fort had witnessed two more jauhras in the past, one being that of Rana Udaisingh’s brave mother, Rani Karnavti. And the one before that was what is now popularly known as the Jauhar of Rani Padmavati when Allaudin Khilji had attacked. This terrible, tragic and brutal sacrifice by these brave Hindu women has served as a reminder to future generations that the freedom that they enjoy came at a very terrible price.
Now there is a conflict in the Mughal version and Rajput version relating to Jaimal Rathore’s death. While Mughal sources insist that he died on the spot from the wound from Akbar’s shot, the Rajput sources insist that the shot had just hit his leg, thus making it impossible for him to fight. Jaimal Rathore died the next day in the Saka while fighting the Mughal army.
Popular Rajput legend maintains that Jaimal Rathore was injured on the leg, thus unable to walk. He did not let this deter him. He climbed onto the shoulders of his nephew Kalyan Das Rathore aka Kalla and both wielded swords in their hands thus resembling the Lord Chaturbhuj (Lord with four hands, an Avatar of Bhagawan Vishnu) and wreaked havoc on the enemy.
Thus, as per the local legend, Jaimal Rathore died fighting. The man who had defended the fort against a deadly and powerful army fell while defending the fort and Hindu honour.
The carnage that followed the Jauhar of the women and the details of the same will be presented in the next and the last article of this series.