Friday, January 15, 2010

Maharaja Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand

(1649 - 1731 A. D.)
In Samvat 1706, in the house of the Bundela chieftain, Champatrai and his wife Lalkunvari, Chhatrasal was born. Even from his childhood, separated from his parents, he made up his mind to struggle against the tyrannical rule of the Mughals. With the blessings of Shivaji - the Maratha warrior, he was determined to fight for the independence of Bundelkhand; and after his meeting with Mahamati Prannath, Chhatrasal became strong and powerful. Just as Guru Ramdas showed the way to Shivaji so did Mahamati Prannath give guidance and true knowledge to Maharaja Chhatrasal.

Chhatrasal came to Mau, a place near Panna, to meet Prannath after being told by his nephew Dev Karanji who met Prannath in Ramnagar. He was highly impressed and became his disciple. When Maharaja Chhatrasal came to meet him, before going to fight a battle, Prannath gave him his own sword and covered his head with a scarf, saying, "You will always be victorious. Diamond mines will be discovered in your land and you will become a great emperor." Shri Chhatrasal, with a few soldiers fought the Mughal army many times and always won. The people of Bundelkhand regarded this as a result of Mahamati Prannath's blessings.

Chhatrasal told his queens that God had personally come to them and they must go for his Darshan. Chhatrasal himself held the palanquin carrying Shri Prannath and brought him to his palace. He then spread his turban and the queen her saree to welcome Mahamati, they dressed him in royal attire and paid homage to him. Chhatrasal gave his all to Shri Prannath and stood with folded hands as Mahamati summoned the neighboring kings and crowned Chhatrasal as the Emperor of that area.

Having been blessed with both spiritual enlightenment and earthly wealth, Chhatrasal became an irritant to Aurangzeb. They fought eighty battles and Chhatrasal won nearly all of them. Aurangzeb learnt of Shri Prannath's support to Chhatrasal and eventually died a disappointed man. Meanwhile Chhatrasal became a terror for Aurangzeb.

Prannath spend the last eleven years of his life in Panna. During this time Maharaja Chhatrasal established an ideal kingdom. By that time, many communities like the Sikhs, Rajputs, Bundelas, and Marathas had organized themselves against the Mughal rulers. A famous poet named Bhusan has written about Chhatrasal that his kingdom had spread all over and no one wanted to fight him. Hindus and Muslims lived like brothers and shared in religious functions. Scholars and poets were well looked after. Just as the people tortured, by the cruel Kans, took shelter in the peaceful Braj, so did people tortured by Aurangzeb's cruelty take shelter in Bundelkhand where Chhatrasal reigned supreme.

Prannath was not only the religious Guru of Chhatrasal; but he guided him too in political, social, and economic matters. It was by being granted the boon of finding diamonds in Panna by Swami Prannath that Maharaja Chhatrasal became prosperous. With the blessings of Mahamati Prannath, Chhatrasal raised his arms against Mughals and was able to make the land bordered by the rivers Jamuna, Narmada, Chambal, and Tons; into an independent realm of Bundelkhand.

After Mahamati Prannath, the entire responsibility of promoting faith fell to Chhatrasal. Like the Buddha's disciple Emperor Ashoka; Chhatrasal was a talented missionary. Chhatrasal endeavoured to promulgate the Krishna Pranami Religion of Mahamati Prannath, abroad and at home in India.

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