The motto of Mewar state “Jo Drad Rakhe Dharm ko, Tehi Rakhe Kartar”, “Those who steadfastly protect the faith, are protected by the creater,” clearly shows that the Maharanas had deep faith in religion ehich in turn made them fearless and valiant.
The mention of ‘Meywar’, as it was spelt in earlier days, instantly conjures up the entire panaroma of Indian history. The annals of Mewar are replete with great feats of courage and chivalry-an immense army of saffron clad Rajput warriors breaking out of seized forts and fortresses and pouncing upon the enemy like hungry lions; innumerable Rajputinis led by Rani Padmini consigning themselves with smile on their faces to high rising flames to save their honour and avoid falling into the evil hands of the invaders; Panna Dhai watching her son being killed brutally at the hands of Banvir to save the life of prince Udai Singh.
The rulers of Mewar all through the history have had multifaceted personality, a blend of valour and spirituality. The glorious story of Mewar begins with Bappa Rawal of the Guhil clan who checked the advancing Arab invaders and whose influence spread up to Khaiber pass. It was
Bappa Rawal who built the famous Ekling temple. In the later part of life he renounced his kingdom and led the life of a ‘sanyasi’. The three rulers who followed him protected the country from foreign invasions. The next in the lineage was the great Maharana Kumbha who, it is said, built 32 out of the 84 forts in Mewar region. The construction of the forts at Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh and Achalgarh clearly reveals his proficiency in building forts. His contribution to the field of sculpture, drama, literature and most of all music can never be forgotten. He wrote wonderful treatises on music. Kumbha was also a highly religious person. A large number of temples were built during his reign including the Golerao group of temples consisting of nine shrines at Kumbhalgarh. He also built a temple called Mamadeo or Kumbha Shyam temple at Chittorgarh and on its stones the history of Kumbhalgarh was engraved by Rana Kumbha himself. Rana Sanga who followed, has become a synonymn of bravery. He fought more than 18 battles in his life. Also a highly religious person, he got built several temples and renovated the famous Neelkanth Mahadev temple at Kumbhalgarh. About the next ruler Maharana Udai Singh, the King of Chittorgarh, a legend has it that once he was out on a hunting expedition and came across a hermit meditating on the banks of a lake. The hermit blessed the Maharana and told him that if he built a palace at that very spot on the banks of the Lake Pichhola it would be well protected.
And so came into being Udaipur city, named after the Maharana. This show how respectful was the Maharana towards men of religion. Maharana Pratap, the bravest of the brave son of Mewar, covered the motherland with glory and was able to check the advancing Mughal army at the famous Haldighati and pushed out its commander from Diwer. Like other Maharanas, Pratap too had great faith in religion. To Maharana Rajsingh goes the credit of reviving the campaign against the Mughals. His deep faith in Lord Jagannath of Puri led him to build a magnificient temple in Udaipur named Jagdish Temple. Maharana Fateh Singh laid the foundation of Great Rajasthan by agreeing to join the Indian Union. Right from the founder of Guhil dynasty, Bappa Rawal to the present, the royal house of Mewar, the royal family has been protector of their religion. These Suryavanshis have kept the flag of ‘dharma’ flying high.
How important the protection of ‘dharma’ was for the rulers of Mewar was shows by the shifting of the black stone image of Krishna from Mathura to Mewar. Feeling that the idol was not safe there, Sri Vallabhaharya approached many Hindu kings to permit the shifting of the idol to their
Kingdoms. But nobody dared to agree to this proposal due to the fear of the Mughal emperor. However, Maharana Raj Singh agreed to do so and gave an assurance that he would protect the idol at any cost. When the idol came near Mewar, the Maharana himself reached the border with his courtiers and welcomed it reverently. He drew the chariot himself for some distance. He asked a Muslim Pathan to escort it safely. On the way to Udaipur, the procession was enthusiastically welcomed by people at several places on the route. The idol was installed at the place in Udaipur where there is the Srinathji temple at present. But later on, fearing that even Udaipur was not safe, it was shifted to Ghasiar from where it was decided to take it to Chittorgarh. When the chariot reached Sihar, a wheel sank into the sand and despite all efforts, could not be pulled out. Taking this as divine intervention, it was declared that the idol would be housed in a temple at Sihar, and the sect would set up its headquarters there. Over time, Sihar was renamed Nathdwara, the gateway to the Lord.
Some of the most prominent saints of Mewar like Guman Singh and Chatur Singh were born in royal families. Surat Singh was a great saint poet who wrote prose and poetry. He took his son Chatur Singh on
Pilgrimages and thus the latter spent a lot of time with ‘sadhus’ and learned persons. Chatur Singh preferred the life of a recluse and did his intense ‘tapasya’ at Hawa Magri, Sukher near Udaipur and Naua village where it is said he attained self-realization. He proved to be a great source of inspiration for spiritual seekers and wrote a lot of books on spiritually. He translated several scriptures into Hindi and Mewari.
Mewar is one of the rare regions where explempary valour blends with intense spirituality.