The Jodhpur Story

In 1375, after hundred and fifty years of proliferation, the Rathores plunged themselves into a war of succession and Mallinath became the first to spill the blood of a brother.  Further, he also invited the Muslims to ally with him.  Paradoxically, he turned out a blessing for his people. His descendants claim he was the rightful heir, but the Rathore khayats, chronicles, record his brother Biramdev as the 11th ruler. King only in name, Biramdev left Marwar after quarreling with Mallinath’s son Jagmal. However, natural justice prevailed for Mallinath renounced his claim to the throne some years later, led a very spiritual life and acquired great siddhis – spiritual powers – ending his days in Mallani, a part of western Marwar, named for him.

Even today, thousands gather at the Tilwada fair on the banks of the Luni River annually, to venerate him and experience a mystical phenomenon: Water beneath the dry river-bed of the Luni rises miraculously for the duration of the fair. Strangely, the quality of the water emerging depends upon the person digging for it.  He who has sweet water at home is graced with sweet water by the river and those who have salt water at home get salt water, even though the two persons digging the river bed may be just a few paces apart!

Biramdev died in exile, in 1383, murdered by his closest friend. His son Chunda, six years old at the time was spirited away to a small village in western Marwar by his mother. They were given refuge by a charan, a ballad singer, named Alla. Chunda grew up tending cattle, but his royalty surfaced in sterling qualities and Alla soon realised the identity of his guests. When old enough, Chunda was sent to Mallinath, his uncle, under whose watchful eye the boy came into his own, blossoming into a skilful warrior and was soon anointed the twelfth Rathore.  Luck favored him. In 1395 he received a marriage proposal that catapulted him into a glorious future. The proposal came from Mandore, whose invincible fort steeped in antiquity was held by the enemy.

The Eenda branch of the Parihar Rajpputs had lost Mandore to Allaudin Khilji in 1292 and it remained with the Muslim Sultans until 1395, when the excesses of a general cost them dear.  That year, not content with the levy of tax on grain, the general commanding the fort garrison demanded fodder as well.  Fed up with the bully, the people hatched a plot to rival the Trojan Horse! Two and a half thousand Eendas smuggled themselves into the fort in five hundred cartloads of fodder. The carts were prodded with spears and checked, but the men hidden beneath did not utter a sound. Legend says they even wiped away the blood on the spears as they were withdrawn! Once within the fort, the Eendas fell upon their adversaries with ferocity.

Within the hour fort was won, but now, retaining it was another matter. So, the Eendas decided upon a marital alliance with Chunda Rathore and gave the fort as the dowry of their princess.  Chunda took his cue from fate and devoted the next few years to the rapid expansion of his kingdom conquering territories among which were Ajmer and Nagore. Now, as rulers of Mandore, the Rathores rose in the hierarchy of clans. Chunda sought to consolidate his position by marrying his daughter, Hansabai to the heir of neighboring Mewar – Chunda Sisodia. Hansabai’s brother Ranmal went to Mewar and entered Rana Lakha’s court not knowing that Chunda Sisodia was away.  The doughty old Rana inquired about the visit and Ranmal answered that he came to offer his sister’s hand in marriage. But, before he could say to whom, the Rana laughed and twirling his white moustache asked “Surely you have not brought a plaything for an old greybeard like me?” Taken aback, but maintaining decorum, Ranmal explained that the proposal was for his son, Chunda. Having conveyed his father’s message, Ranmal returned to Mewar letting the matter rest. When Chunda Sisodia returned and was told what had transpired he was furious that his father should have insulted the lady and insisted that he marry Hansabai.  Ranmal agreed to the marriage on condition that the son born to his sister would then be the heir. It was agreed to, and the marriage took place.

Meanwhile, in Marwar, a similar drama was unfolding. Ranmal’s father, Chunda Rathore was under the spell of his young Mohli queen. A devious woman, she began to interfere in matters of state and persuaded the besotted Chunda to disregard Ranmal and proclaim her son Kanha the heir-apparent.  Chunda Rathore died in 1424, fighting Salim Shah of Multan and was succeeded by Kanha, who, also died within a few years.  The Rathores persuaded Ranmal to return and claim his right.

Rao Ranmal was a legend. Within a few years he doubled his territory.  Marwar flourished. Then stagnated in 1433 when Ranmal vowed to avenge the murder of Rana Mokal, his sister’s son.  Mokal’s murder was avenged, but taking it to the extreme end, Ranmal married the murder’s daughter, forcing her to sit on her father’s headless body for the ceremony!

Meanwhile, he had also fallen in love with the hills of Mewar and so stayed on to guide his grand nephew, then a child.  Gradually, he assumed all control becoming the ruler. Chundia Sisodia the rightful heir, fled and his younger brother was killed. All powerful, Ranmal boasted to one of his mistresses, a palace maid Bharamali, that he would make her a queen.  The court of Mewar was horrified at the idea and sent urgent messages to Chunda Sisodia to return.  In 1438, Chunda Sisodia, consumed with hatred for Ranmal, returned incognito and plotted with the nobles of Mewar.

One night, a number of Sisodia’s men crept into Ranmal’s bedroom and while he slept, tied him to his bed with his own safa, then, proceeded to butcher him. Even so, the story goes, the warrior reared and killed two of his assassins, but in the end succumbed to his wounds. The Sisodias then turned their attention to his son Jodha who was slumbering in his camp beyond the fort.  A loyal drummer beating his kettle drum from the ramparts of the fort sang loudly: ‘Chunda ajmal aaveeya, Mandu hun dhak aag, Jodha, Ranmal mareeeya, bhaag sake to bhaagChunda has returned from Mandu, Ranmal has been killed, Jodha run if you can, run, run……….’

Seven hundred loyal Rathores fled Chittor with Jodha on that night. Only seven drained men reached Mandore a day and half later to find that Chunda Sisodia’s men were already there.  Jodha turned away to live and fight another day. He wandered the desert for the next fifteen years, but, destiny stepped in during the twelfth year. Tired and hungry he knocked on the door of a Jat farmer’s house, wanting only a hearty meal and a good night’s sleep; Marwari hospitality guaranteed him that much.

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