Kumbhakarna Singh, popularly known as Maharana Kumbha, was the Maharana of the Mewar kingdom in India. He belonged to the Sisodia clan of Rajputs. Rana Kumbha is renowned for his eminent military career against numerous sultanates as well as his support of the arts, music, and architecture.
Early life of Maharana Kumbha
Maharana Kumbha was born in a Hindu Rajput family of the Sisodia dynasty in Madariya. Kumbha was the son of Rana Mokal Singh of Mewar by his wife, Sobhagya Devi, a Paramara fief holder of Runkot in the state of Marwar. In the year 1433 CE, he superseded Rana Mokal Singh as the monarch of Mewar. He was the 48th Rana of Mewar.
Coronation of Maharana Kumbha
In 1433, two brothers—Chacha and Mera—assassinated Maharana Mokal, the grandson of Rana Hammira. But due to a lack of support, Chacha and Mera left, and Rana Kumbha took the throne of Mewar. Ranmal (Ranamalla) Rathore of Mandore first provided competent assistance to Rana Kumbha, together they attacked Malwa and captured the Sultan.
However, Rana Kumbha ordered Ranmal’s murder due to his rising influence, which sparked a long-lasting rivalry between the Sisodia and Rathore clans. Mahmud Khalji, Sultan of Malwa, began a string of assaults against Mewar in November 1442. The Bana Mata Temple was demolished by the Sultan in 1442, and he then set out towards Chittor. However, the Rana caught him, and a battle took place at Mandalgarh.
The first day ended in a draw, but the next day the Rana launched another attack, which resulted in the Sultan’s defeat and forced withdrawal. Rana Kumbha assaulted the Sultan’s army when it crossed the Banas river in 1446, and the Malwa army was once more crushed. The Sultan had assembled a new army to conquer Mewar.
Struggle with the Sultans of Malwa and Gujrat
After establishing his authority, Rana Kumbha launched an invasion of the neighboring states. Among other places, he conquered Sambhar, Ajmer, and Ranthambore. Additionally, he ruled over the Rajput states of Kotah, Bundi, and Dungarpur. The conflict between Mewar and the Sultans resulted from these nations’ prior tribute payments to the Malwa and Gujarati sultans. The Sultanates and Mewar engaged in a full-scale war after Kumbha attacked the Sultanate of Nagaur, which was ruled by a distant relative of the Sultan of Gujrat. This began a rivalry between the 2 dynasties.
In the course of the seven-day struggle that followed Mahmud Shah Khilji’s attack on Gagron in 1444, the Rajputs lost their lives in combat, the ladies committed Jauhar, and Gagron was eventually taken over by the Malwa sultanate. In 1444–1446, Mahmud made another attempt to conquer Mandalgarh but was repulsed and chased away by the Rajput soldiers.
Firoz Khan, the ruler of Nagaur, passed away sometime around 1453. This sparked a chain of events that put Kumbha’s bravery to the test. Shams Khan, the Firuz Khan’s son, initially requested Rana Kumbha’s assistance to overthrow his uncle Mujahid Khan, who had been king. Shams Khan, after taking power, refused to let his defenses deteriorate and enlisted the aid of Ahmad Shah II, the Sultan of Gujarat (Ahmad Shah died in 1442). This infuriated Kumbha, who in 1456 also took control of Kasili, Khandela, Sakambhari, and Nagaur.
As a result, Ahmad Shah II seized Sirohi and launched an assault on Kumbhalmer. The Champaner Treaty, which was negotiated between Mahmud Khalji and Ahmad Shah II, called for an invasion of Mewar and the division of the spoils. Ahmad Shah II took control of Abu, but was unable to take control of Kumbhalmer, and his attempt to push on Chittor was also hindered. When Rana Kumbha emerged, he permitted the army to approach Nagaur, and after a bloody battle, he decisively defeated and destroyed the Gujarat army. Only a few pieces of it made it to Ahmedabad, where they informed the Sultan of the calamity.
Following Kumbha’s annexation of Nagaur in the North in 1456, the Sultan of Gujrat attacked Mewar and attempted to capture Kumbhalgarh, but was unsuccessful. Ajmer was taken by Mahmud Khalji, who later took control of Mandalgarh in December 1456.
Rao Jodha, the son of Ranmal Rathore, took advantage of Kumbha’s concentration to seize Mandore. Rana Kumbha’s ability to defend his dominion from this multifaceted attack is a testament to his abilities. Rana Kumbha was able to retake his exiled lands because of Qutb-ud-din Ahmad Shah II’s death in 1458 and the conflict between Mahmud Begada and Mahmud Khalji, the new king of Gujarat.
At a time when he was surrounded by adversaries like Mahmud Khalji of Malwa, Qutbuddin Ahmad Shah II of Gujarat Sultanate, Shams Khan of Nagaur, and Rao Jodha of Marwar, Rana Kumbha successfully defended Mewar and increased his domain.
Construction of forts
Kumbha is recognized for exerting great effort to rebuild the state. 32 of the 84 strongholds that make up Mewar’s defensive were built by Kumbha. The fort of Kumbhalgarh, constructed by Kumbha, is the main fortress of Mewar. It is Rajasthan’s tallest fort (MRL 1075m).
At Chittor, Rana Kumbha ordered the construction of a nine-story, 37-meter structure. Vijay Stambha, also known as the Tower of Victory, was likely finished between 1458 and 1468, but some accounts place its completion as early as 1448. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are shown in the sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses that cover the tower.
There are many inscriptions on the Stambha from the time of Kumbha.
- Verse 17: Kumbha is like the mountain Sumeru for the churning of the sea of Malwa. He humbled its king Muhammad.
- Verse 20: He also destroyed other lowly Mleccha rulers (of the neighborhood). He uprooted Nagaur.
- Verse 21: He rescued twelve lakh cows from the Muslim possession and converted Nagaur into a safe pasture for them. He brought Nagaur under the control of the Brahmanas and secured cows and Brahmanas in this land.
- Verse 22: Nagaur was the center of the Mleccha. Kumbha uprooted this tree of evil. Its branches and leaves were automatically destroyed.
The Ranakpur Trailokya-dipaka Jain temple with its adornments, the Kumbhashyam temple and Adivarsha temples of Chittor, and the Shantinatha Jain temple are some of the many other structures built during Rana Kumbha’s rule.
Contributions to arts and music
Kumbha encouraged musicians and painters in his court and was a skilled veena player himself. A commentary on Gita Govinda of Jaidev and an explanation of Chandisatkam were written by him. The treatises “Sageet raj,” “Sangeet mimansa,” “Sangeet ratnakar,” and “Shudprabandha” are among his other works on music. He wrote four plays using the Sanskrit, Prakrit, and regional Rajasthani dialects. The scholars Atri and his son Mahesa wrote Prashashti on Kirti stambha during his reign. He knew the Vedas, Upanishads, and Vyakrana thoroughly.
Death of Maharana Kumbha & Aftermath
Kumbha was killed by his son Udaysimha (Udai Singh I), who thereafter became known as Hatyara (Murderer). In 1473, Udai himself passed away; the reason for death was occasionally given as a lightning strike, but it was more likely murder as well.
Instead of his son, Udai Singh’s other brother Raimal of Mewar succeeded him. Raimal asked the Sultan of Delhi for assistance, and after a battle broke out at Ghasa, Sahasmal and Surajmal, the rebel brothers, were vanquished by Prithviraj, Raimal’s second son.
Raimal was still alive, hence Prithviraj was unable to quickly take the throne. Nevertheless, he was chosen as the crown prince since his older brother Sangram Singh had fled after a dispute between the three brothers, and his younger brother Jaimal had already been killed.
After beating up his brother-in-law for abusing his sister, Prithviraj ultimately had him poisoned and died. A few days later, Raimal passed away from sadness, making room for Sangram Singh to ascend to the throne. In the meantime, Sangram Singh, who had returned from self-exile, took the throne of Mewar and rose to fame as Rana Sanga.