Jaitra Simha Rawal: The Forgotten Hindu Hero who Singlehandedly Saved South India for Half a Century

Jaitra Simha Rawal was the fierce Hindu Hero who singlehandedly stopped the Delhi Sultanate's southward expansion and saved the Deccan and south India for about half a century.
Jaitra Simha Rawal: The Forgotten Hindu Hero who Singlehandedly Saved South India for Half a Century

A SHORT WALK OF 2.5 Kilometres down from the divine precincts of Eklingji or a longer drive of 31 Kilometres from Sri Krishna’s famous Lila-Bhumi at Nathdwara leads us to the ruins of the once-mighty and resplendent Sahasrabahu Devasthana. At Nagda.

Nagda.

The glorious capital city of Medāpāṭa (Mewar) that radiated Hindu power, prosperity and piety for centuries under the gallant Guhila dynasty immortalized by the doughty Bappa Rawal, the frontline lionheart who repelled the early Turushka invasions and enshrined himself in the Hindu heart by building the grand Ekalinga Devalaya. The debt that the global Hindu community owes to this gallant clan of Kshatriyas who won and lost and lost and won against the villainous depredations of the despised Turushkas and never gave up their sacred Dharma is truly non-repayable.

The same leonine blood of Bappa Rawal coursed in the veins of the hero of this essay, Rawal Jaitra Simha, the 27th descendant of the dynasty.

Jaitra Simha remains buried in the abyss of obscurity, a fate he shares with uncountable Hindu heroes like him. This is a tragedy that continues to earn compound interest on the seed capital known as Hindu civilizational amnesia.

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Speaking purely from a relative historical perspective, Jaitra Simha should have ideally been better known, his valour celebrated on a wider scale compared to his illustrious ancestor. The vast political geography of north and western India had changed beyond recognition in the four-and-half centuries that separated him from Bappa Rawal. In Jaitra Simha’s time, this sacred space, both the Aryavarata and Brahmavarta had been permanently defiled by waves of Turushka pollution whose central features included industrial-scale temple destructions, cow slaughter, and mass slave-taking of women and infants. When Jaitra Simha came to prominence in 1213, twenty years had elapsed since Prithviraja Chahamana, the expansive banyan tree that had sheltered Hindus in north India had attained the Vira Swarga, killed treacherously by Muhammad Ghori.

Rajputana had fallen into disarray and a fledgling empire of the selfsame, vile Turushkas had firmly made Delhi their base. Their hunger for enlarging Islam’s dominions in infidel Hindustan only increased. Needless, the substantial territory of Rajputana was one of their prime targets for frequent raids.

With the embracive umbrella of real Samrāṭs like Prithviraja Chahamana lifted off their heads, the Rajput dynasties not only declared suzerainty but began fighting one another. To their eternal discredit. Individually however, they fully retained the unyielding spirit of fierce independence against the hated Turushka who they correctly saw as a foreigner whose manners and lifestyle were slightly better than barbarians.

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Thus, by the time Jaitra Simha came to power, the Hindu political theatre in Rajputana was a competitive quadrangle comprising the Chahamanas of Ranasthambhapura, the Guhilas of Mewar, the Chahamanas of Jalor, and the Bhatis of Jaisalmer.

Of these, only Jaitra Simha stood unrivalled in not only repelling the Turushkas from Delhi on multiple occasions but instilled lasting fear in their insanitary hearts. Till the end of his life, Jaitra Simha stood undefeated, a monumental feat given the small size of his empire.

Sometime in the previous century, Mewar had become a vassalage of the Gujarat Chalukya (Solanki) King Bhimadeva II and it was Jaitra Simha who declared independence thereby authoring a new chapter of glory.

Shorn of all prestige and authority, Bhimadeva’s status was that of a puppet in the hands of his all-powerful general Vira Dhavala.

And then, the Hammira (i.e., Amir) from Delhi announced his Jihad against the infidel king of Gujarat, a state prized in the annals of the Islamic conquest of Hindustan. It was here that Mahmud of Ghazni accomplished his seminal and successful Jihad in this land of idolaters and razed the magnificent and large temple of Somanatha. Ever since, Gujarat had been transformed into an irresistible magnet for all hues of alien Islamic invaders.

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The Hammira of Jaitra Simha’s time was known to Hindus by the name of Milacchikāra. This is the Sanskritized form of Amir-i-Shikhar (Lord of the Hunt) and refers to Iltutmish who had usurped the sultanate at Delhi. Iltutmish had held the office of Amir-i-Shikhar under Qutub-ud-din Aibak.

And now, sometime between 1222-26, Iltutmish chose Mewar as the initial leg of his planned invasion of Gujarat and marched at the head of a substantial force. The scene of the first battle was Nāgahrada or Nagda, the capital.

The Mount Abu inscription written in lovely Sanskrit versification describes both Medāpāṭa (Mewar) and Nāgahrada with picturesque passion and with a feeling of piety that is impossible to describe in mere words:

This territory of Medāpāṭa surpassing by its excessive loveliness the town of Amaravati and completely humbling the pride in its beauty of all other towns, received the name of glorious Medāpāṭa. Here there is an extensive town, Nagahrada, where a multitude of Rishi Harita’s disciples, rich in penance, performed various penances. This town is engaged in a series of Yajnas for the benefit of the worlds. In one corner of the town, some people offer sacred oblations to the sacred Agni, which they have produced with the power of their Tapas. In other solitary spots of the town, other sages, having attained the rising of the Eternal Truth, behold Atmajnana and take delight in Pranayama. In a grove, ascetics freed from worldly bonds have their eyes half-closed looking upwards, the vision of divine contemplation. It is here that Rishi Harita, the abode of perfection, having attained union with Shiva himself bestowed the splendour of royalty.

The author of the inscription was not speaking merely as an eyewitness or inhabitant of his beloved town. His description was fully backed by tradition, which lists Nāgahrada as a Tirtha-Kshetra of great antiquity. The colossal scholar V.S. Sukhthankar avers that Sri Ramachandra took a punya-snana in a lake in the vicinity of Nāgahrada. Evidently, in Jaitra Simha’s rule, Nāgahrada was the throbbing abode of innumerable Shaiva, Vaishnava and Jain temples, and some Buddhist stupas.

Iltutmish decided to honour it with the patented piety of Islam.

What followed was an orgy of savagery impelled by unhinged fanaticism. The Hammira-Madamardana, a contemporary play describes in excruciating detail how Hindus in the town were filled with dismay and terror, and their knowledge of the vile Turushka’s barbarism compelled masses to commit suicide instead of being captured alive. Some jumped into wells, some set fire to their own houses and immolated themselves, and others hanged themselves. A few desperate, unarmed citizens, consumed with fury, banded together and tried to counter the marauding Mlecchas but were heartlessly slaughtered. Heart-rending screams and wails of infants and small children rent the air. In the end, the barbaric Mleccha soldiers burnt the entire city till nothing but ashes were left. The devastation was so comprehensive that Jaitra Simha had to abandon the capital forever and shift the seat of his Government to Chittorgarh.

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But the obliteration of Nāgahrada was the only victory of Iltutmish’s army of Islam. A seething Jaitra Simha decided to inflict a far more horrifying lesson upon the Turushka.

The Chirwa stone inscription gives us a rather vivid and heroic narrative of a commander named Talaraksha Yoga Raja whose son inflicted a crushing defeat against the Suratrana’s (i.e., sultan) forces in a village named Bhutala (now, Untala) near Nāgahrada but attained Vira Swarga.

Now, the indomitable Jaitra Simha himself entered the battle and battered Iltutmish so thoroughly that he never forgot the humiliation. The aforementioned Mount Abu inscription describes how Jaitra Simha proved to be the very Agastya Rishi who drank the sea of the Turushka army, and even the sultan could not humble him, and

Even now, goblins loudly sing in battle the valour of the arm of the illustrious Jaitra Simha, having their minds ecstatic with the pleasure caused by the embrace of their mistresses who are tottering around, intoxicated with the blood of the Turushka army. He is the foremost among the rulers, who like Varaha, having the flashing sword as his tusk, in one fierce moment lifted the deeply-sunk land high out of the Turushka-sea.

The pounding was so absolute that for the rest of his blighted rule, Iltutmish never dared to look in the direction of Mewar. The silent evidence of his lasting humiliation and the silent compliment to Jaitra Simha’s resolute Kshatra is the fact that none of the Muslim chroniclers mention this event.

Jaitra Simha’s undying fame as an extraordinary Hindu hero who arose during a very dire period in Hindu history is truly remarkable for another reason. His regime which lasted for forty-three glorious years from 1213-56 was distinguished for the singularity that he never suffered a single defeat, he never ceded an inch of Hindu territory to the Turushkas.

But there’s more.

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Jaitra Simha was a commander’s commander, a soldier’s solider and a military strategist’s strategist. All of this stood on the unshakeable foundation of his uncompromising spirit of independence. He stood alone as the insurmountable barrier against Islam’s bigoted march into the prosperous regions of Gujarat, the Deccan and southern India by blocking its route that passed through southern Rajasthan.

For about half a century, Jaitra Simha singlehandedly safeguarded the Hindus living in this extensive geography.

For this and more, he has earned undying fame and our lasting gratitude. However, while our textbooks have completely erased his name for obvious reasons, the collective Hindu consciousness is largely clueless that such an eternal hero even exists. That as I mentioned, is the greater injury to his memory.

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