No thought of flight, None of retreat, no unbecoming deed That argued fear; each on himself relied, As only in his arm the moment lay Of victory,
-MILTON: Paradise Lost.
THE Hindus were declared by the Greeks to be the bravest nation they ever came in contact with.’ It was the Hindu King of Magadha that struck terror in the ever-victorious armies of Alexander the Great.
Abul Fazal, the minister of Akbar, after admiring their other noble virtues, speaks of the valour of the Hindus in these terms: “Their character shines brightest in adversity. Their soldiers (Rajputs) know not what it is to flee from the field of battle, but when the success of the combat becomes doubtful, they dismount from their horses and throw away their lives in payment of the debt of valour.”
“The traveller, Bernier, says that “ the Rajputs embrace each other when on the battle-field as if resolved to die.” The Spartans, as is well known, dressed their hair on such occasions. It is well known that when a Rajput becomes desperate, he puts on garments of saffron colour, which act, in technical language, is called kesrian kasurnal karna (donning saffron robes).
After describing how, when Dara disappeared from the field of Dholpur where the Imperial forces had made a
1 Elphinstone’s History of India, p, 197.
last stand against the combined armies of Aurangzeb and Murad in their advance to Agra, and the Imperial forces took to flight, the Bundi chief, like Porus of old, continued fighting heroically till he was killed, saying “accursed belie who flies I Here, true to my salt, my feet are rooted to this field, nor will I quit it alive but with victory,” and how Bharat Singh, his youngest son maintained the contest nobly, Colonel Tod says: “Thus in the two battles of Ujjain and Dholpnr, no less than 12 princes of the blood, together with.the heads of every Hara clan, maintained their fealty even to death. Where are we to look for such examples ?”.1
During a visit of the Boondi chief, Rao Sooju, to Chitor, Rana Ratna, at the instigation of an intriguing Poorbia, determined to slay the Rao in an hunt when the respective chiefs were attended only by a couple of servants. Finding a convenient opportunity, the Rana said to his companion, “ now is the moment to slay the boar, and instantly an arrow from the bow of the Poorbia was sped at the Rao. “With an eagle’s eye he saw it coming, and turned it off with his bow.” This mirrht have been chance, but another from the foster-brothers of the Rana convinced him there was treachery. Scarcely had he warded off the second, when the Rana darted at him on horseback, and cut him down with his Ichanda. The Rao fell, but recovering, took his shawl and lightly bound up the wound, and as his foe was making off, he called aloud, “escape you may, but you have sunk Mewar.” The Poorbia, who followed his prince, when he saw the
1Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. IX, p. 481. “The annals of no nation on earth can furnish such an example as an entire family, six royal brothers, stretched on the field and all but one in death”—Vol. II, p. 49.
Rao biud up his wound, said, “ the work is but half done;” and like a coward, Rutna once more charged the wounded Rao. As his arm was raised to finish the deed of shame, like a wounded tiger the Tiara made a dying effort, caught the assassin by the robe, and dragged him from his steed. Together they came to the ground, the Rana underneath. The Rao knelt upon his beast, while, with preternatural strength, with one hand he grasped his victim by the throat, with the other he searched for his dagger. What a moment for revenge I He plunged the weapon into his assassin’s heart, and saw him expire at his feet. The Rao was satisfied; there was no more life left him than sufficed for revenge, and he dropped a corpse upon the dead body of his foeman.
The tidings flew to Boondi, to the mother of the Rao that her son was slain in the Aihara. “ Slain I “ exclaimed this noble dame, “ but did he fall alone? Never could a son who has drunk at this breast depart unaccompanied;” and as she spoke, “ maternal feeling caused the milk to issue from the fount with such force that it rent the slab on which it fell.”
Tod thus relates an incident he witnessed in Haravati :—” There was one specimen of devotion (to the prince of Kotah) which we dare not pass over, comparable with whatever is recorded of the fabled traits of heroism of Greece or Rome. The Regent’s (Zalim Singh2 of Kotah)
Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. IL, pp. 468, 69.
Col. Tod says: “Zalim Singh was a consummate politician, who can scarcely find a parallel in the varied pages of history. He was the pimum mobile of the region he inhabited, a sphere far too confined for his genius, which required a wider field for its display, and might have controlled the destinies of nations.
battalions were advancing in columns along the precipitous bank of a rivulet, when their attention was arrested by several shots fired from an isolated hillock rising out of the plain across the stream. Without any order, but as by a simultaneous impulse, the whole line halted to gaze at two audacious individuals, who appeared determined to make their mound a fortress. A minute or two passed in mute surprise, when the word was given to move on; but scarcely was it uttered ere several wounded from the head of the column were passing to the rear, and shots began to be exchanged very briskly, at least twenty in return for one. But the long matchlocks of the two heroes told every time in our lengthened line, while they seemed to have ‘a charmed life,’ and the shot fell like hail around them innocuous, one continuing to load behind the mound, while the other fired with deadly aim. At length two twelve pounders were unlimbered; and as the shot whistled round their ears, both rose on the very pinnacle or the mound, and made a profound salaam for this compliment to their valour; which done, they continued to load and fire, whilst entire platoons blazed upon them. Although more men had suffered, an irresistible impulse was felt to save these gallant men; orders were given to cease firing, and the force was directed to move on, unless any two individuals chose to attack them manfully hand-to-hand. The words were scarcely uttered when two young
“ When an English division in their pursuit of the Pindari leader, Karim Khan, insulted his town of Baran, he burst forth If twenty years could be taken from his life, Delhi and Deccan should be one.”— Tod’ s Rajasthan, Vol. II, pp. 517, 18.
Rohillas drew their swords, sprung down the bank, and soon cleared the space between them and the foemen. All was deep anxiety as they mounted to the assault; but whether their physical frame was less vigorous, or their energies were exhausted by wounds or by their peculiar situation, these brave defenders fell on the mount whence they disputed the march of ten battalions of infantry and twenty pieces of cannon.”
Mukandas was the head of the Kunpanwat Rahtores of Marwar. He incurred the displeasure of the Emperor Aurangzeb, by a reply which was disrespectful. The tyrant condemned him to enter a tiger’s den, and contend for his life unarmed. Without a sign of fear he entered the arena where the savage beast was pacing, and thus contemptuously accosted him: “Oh tiger of the Mian, face the tiger of Jaswant ;” exhibiting to the king of the forest a pair of eyes, which anger and opium had rendered little less inflamed than his own. The animal, startled by so unaccustomed a salutation, for a moment looked at his visitor, put down his head, turned round and stalked from him. “ You see,” exclaimed the Rahtore, “ that he dare not face me, and it is contrary to the creed of a true Rajpoot to attack an enemy who dares not confront him.” Even the tyrant, who beheld the scene was surprised into admiration, presented him with gifts, and asked if he had any children to inherit his prowess. His reply, ‘how can we get children when you keep us from our wives beyond the Attock ?’ fully shows that the Rahtore and fear were strangers to each other. From this singular encounter he bore the name of Naharkhan, “ the tiger lord.”2
iTod’s Rajasthan, Vol. H, pp. 579, 80.
2Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. II, pp. 55, 56.
“ It was with the Sesodia Rajputs and the Shekhawats that Mohabat Khan performed the most daring exploit in Moghal history, making Jehangir prisoner in his own camp in the zenith of his power.” This Mohabat Khan was an apostate son of Sagarji, half-brother of Rana Pratap. “ He was beyond doubt,” says Tod, “ the most daring Chief in Jehangir’s reign.”
“ The celebrated heroic charges of the Rahtore horse at the battles of Tonga and Patun in 1791 A.D., against the disciplined armies of the French General De Boigne, carrying everything before them, show the unequalled dash and elan of the Rahtore cavalry when inspired by patriotism.
There is no end to the recounting of the brave deeds performed by the Raj puts. Name a few heroes like, Pratap, Durga Das, Jaswant, Hamir, Raj Singh, IVIaun, Prithi Raj, Sivaji, and a volume is said. The rest
‘ Were long to tell; how many battles fought, How many kings destroyed and kingdoms won.’
But as the Rajputs were men of valour, so were they men of herculean build and strength. It was a Bhatti Rajput—Soningdeo, a man of gigantic strength—who not only bent but broke the iron bow sent by the king of Khorasan to the Emperor of Delhi to string, when no one in Delhi could do so.’
“Homer’s heroes,” says Col. Tod, “ were pigmies to the Kurus, whose bracelet we may doubt if Ajax could have lifted.”‘
Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol I, p. 355. 2Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol, II, p. 254. 3Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol, II, p. 81.
Colonel Tod says: “ Let us take the Rajput character from the royal histpians themselves, from Akbar, Jehangir, Aurangzeb. The most brilliant conquests of these monarchs were by their Rajput allies; though the little regard the latter had for opinion alienated the sympathies of a race, who, when rightly managed, encountered at command the Afghan amidst the snows of Caucasus, or made the furthest Chersonese tributary to the empire. Assam, where the British arms were recently engaged, and for the issue of which such anxiety was manifested in the metropolis of Britain, was conquered by a Rajput prince, whose descendant is now an ally of the British Government.”‘
The Moghals were indebted for half’ their conquests to the Lakh Tulzvat
( Religious bigotry and Imperial vanity eventually disgusted the Rajputs, who were the bulwark of the Moghal throne, with the result that the empire came to an end sooner than was expected. )” The spirit of devotion nithirbrave race; by whose aid the Moghal powe was made and maintained, was irretrievably alienated) when Delhi was invaded by Nadir Shah. Even in the times of the great Moghal Emperor, Aurangzeb, the Hindu princes of Rajputana though disunited and jealous of
‘Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. 1, p. 195. 2Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. II, p. 507. 3 Tocl’6 Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 417,
each other, were some of them individually too strong to be openly defied by the Emperor. Jas want Singh of Jodhpur was poisoned at Kabul,’ and his heir, Prithi Singh, at Delhi, which freed the heart of Aurang from a terrible nightmare. It was only after these murders that the tyrant thought of imposing the hated Jazia. The great Jai Singh of Jaipur was also poisoned at his instigation by the Raja’s son, Kirat Singh. Having recourse to poison, when unable to openly meet a strong opponent, was a favourite practice of the Moghal Emperors of India. Even the much-belauded Akbar, the arch-enemy of the Hindus,’ was not above it. Colonel Tod says: “A desire to be rid of the great Raja Maun of Amber, to whom he was so much indebted, made the emperor to act the part of the assassin. He prepared a majum, or confection, a part of which contained poison; but, caught in his own snare, he presented the innoxiou portion to the Rajput and ate that druoged with death himself.”2 The cause appears to have been a design on the part of Raja Maun to alter the succession, and that Khusro, his nephew, should succeed instead of Selim.
The murder of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Marwar by his own son, Bakht Singh, at the instigation of the Sayyads—the kingmakers of India—was another instance of the policy of “ covert guile,” which became a stronger weapon than the sword in the hands of some of the Mohamedan rulers of India, who seem to have accepted the recommendation bestowed on this policy by Bella’ in the assembly of the Fallen Angels.
‘Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 379, and Vol, II, p. 52. 2Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, pp. 351, 52,
The inherent strength of the Rajput character, his power of dogged resistence, his invincible attachment to his country, and, above all, the spiritual nature of the ideals that nurture his soul, are fully recognised by the historian of Raj putana, when he says: “What nation on earth would have maintained the semblance of civilization, the spirit or the customs of their forefathers, during so many centuries of overwhelming depression, but one of such singular character as the Rajpnt? Though ardent and reckless he can, when required, subside into forbearance and apparent apathy, and reserve himself for the opportunity of revenge. Rajasthan exhibits the sole example in the history of mankind, of a people withstanding every outrage barbarity can inflict, or human nature sustain, from a foe whose religion commands annihilation, and bent to the earth, yet rising buoyant from the pressure, and making calamity a whetstone to courage. How did the Britons at once sink under the Romans, and in vain strive to save their groves, their druids, or the altars of Bal from destruction 1 To the Saxons they alike succumbed; they, again, to the Danes; and this heterogeneous breed to the Normans. Empire was lost and gained by a single battle, and the laws and religion of the conquered merged in those of the conquerors. Contrast with these the Raj puts: not an iota of their religion or customs have they lost, though many a foot of land. Some of their States have been expunged from the map of dominion; and, as a punishment of national infidelity, the pride of the Rahtore, and the glory of the Chalook, the over-grown Kanauj and gorgeous Anhulwarra, are forgotten names! Mewar alone, the sacred bulwark of religion, never compromised her honour for her safety, and still survives her ancient limits; and since the brave Samarsi gave up his life, the blood of her princes has flowed in copious streams for the maintenance of this honour, religion and independence.”1
As the ancient Hindus were the bravest nation in the world, so did they give to the world its greatest hero. Hercules has been universally acknowledged to be the greatest warrior, the bravest and the most powerful man the world has ever produced. And Hercules was, in reality, a Hindu and not a Greek. Hercules was but Balram. This may sound paradoxical to those who have not studied comparative mythology, but to those who have done so there is nothing strange in this statement. The word Hercules is derived from the Sanskirt word Heri-cul-es (v.k.uw.). Balram emigrated to Greece after the Mahabharata, and in consequence of the display of his wonderful feats of strength and valour there, the people of Greece began to worship him as a god.
Professor Heeren says: “We can hardly doubt that Bacchus and Hercules were both of them Hindu deities, since they are not only represented as objects of general worship, but the particular countries and places are also specified where both the one and the other had temples erected to their services (see Arrian, p. 174, and Strabo, Vol, 15th p. 489).
ilicidorns says that Hercules was born amongst the Indians. “ The combats to which Diodorus al-ltteles-are,
1 Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 259.
those in the legendary haunts of the Herculas during their twelve years exile from the seat of their forefathers.”1
Colonel Tod says: “Both Krishna. and Baldeo (Balram) or Apollo and Hercules are es (lords) of the race (cul) of Heri (Heri-cal-es), of which the Greeks might have made the compound Hercules. Might not a colony after theSsimati_Var have migrated Westwar
The period of the return of Heraclid, the descendants of Atreus (Atri the progenitor of the Hericula (vt.rv) would answer: It was about half a-century after the Great War,_”_
After describing the population of Behar, Mr. Pococke says: “Here then the historian is presented with a primitive population in Hellas, not only from the Himalayas, but from Pelasa, Maghada, or Bahar, with corresponding clans to enter Greece, and the cherished memory of their Chiefs, as the foundation of one of the godships of Hellas. Though Baldeva, the elder brother of Krishna, who was supposed to have perished in crossing the Himalaya mountains, succeeded ultimately in reaching Greece, where his renown became great, Krishna was doomed to perish in a land far distant from that country.” 2
Colonel Tod cannot resist the inference that the Herculas of India and the Ileraclidoe of Greece were connected% Arrian not]ces the similarity of the Hindu and Theban Hercules, and cites as his authority the ambassador of-SeTemasTMegasttelies—, \Vho sa
1Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 30. Arrian’s story of Hercules is the same as that given in the Puranas.
2India in Greece, p, 299.
same habit with the Theban, and is practically worshipped by the Sureseni, who have two great cities belonging to them, namely, Mathura and Clisoboros.’
The points of resemblance between tI1e Hindu and the Theban Hercules are most striking, and irresistibly lead one to the conclusion that here at least similarity is synonymous with identity.
(1) The Heraclida claimed their origin from Atreus, the Hericulas from Atri.-
(2) Euristh-enes-vra-rthe first great king of the Heraclida; Yudhistira has sufficient affinity in his name to the first Spartan king not to startle the etymologist—the d and r being always permutable in Sanskrit.
(3) The Greeks or Ionians are descended from Yavan or Javan, the seventh from Japhet. The Hericules are also Yavans claiming from Javan or Yavona, the thirteenth in decent from Yayat, the third son of the primeval patriarch.
(4) The ancient Heraclithe of the Greeks asserted that they were as old as the sun, older than the moon. May not this boast conceal the fact that the Hericulidue (or Suryavansa’) of Greece had settled there anterior to the colony of the Indu (Lunar) race of Hericulas? Col. Tod says: “Amidst the snows of Caucasus, Hindu legends abandon the Hericulas under their leaders, Yudhistira and Baldeo: yet, if Alexander established his altars in Panchalica amongst the sons of Pooru and the Hericulas, what physical impossibility exists that a colony of them under Yudhistira and Baldeo, eight centuries anterior, should have penetrated to Greece? Comparatively far advanced in science and arms, the conquest would have bean easy.”
(5) When Alexander attacked the “ free cities” of Panchalika,the Poorus and the Hericulas who opposed him evinced the recollections of their ancestor, in carrying the figure of Hercules as their standard.’
Comparison proves a common origin to Hindu and Greek mythology; and Plato says “ the Greeks derived theirs from Egypt and the East. \ May not this colony of the tieractidm who penetrated into Peloponnesus (according to Volney) 1078 years before Christ, be sufficieeitly near our calculated period of the Great War? “2
“ How ;refreshing,” Colonel Tod concludes, “to the mind yet to discover amidst the ruins of the Yamuna, Hercules (Baldeo) retaining his club and lion’s hide.”
1” The martial Rajputs are not strangers to armorial bearings, now so indiscriminately used in Europe. The great banner of Mewar exhibits a golden sun on a crimson field, those of the chiefs bear a dagger. Amber displays the Panchranga, ov five-coloured flag. The lion rampant on an argent field, is extinct with the State of Chanderi. In Europe, these customs were not introduced till the period of the Crusades, and were copied from the Saracens, while the use of them among the Rajput tribes can be traced to a period anterior to the war of Troy.”— “India in Greece,” p. 92.
2Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 51.