Rajput Culture and History: The distortions, the conspiracies, and the truth – Guhilot Rajputs and the legendary Bappa Rawal.

This article covers in the outline the early history of the Guhilot Rajput clan and their illustrious king Kaalbhoja aka Bappa Rawal, who played a pivotal role in ending the yoke of Arabs on the Indian mainland.

Bappa Rawal: His Antecedents and Pedigree.

The face of history is often obscured by the ruthless hands of time. To love history is to love a woman whose ‘being’ remains shrouded in mystery inaccessible to her lovers; and as a rule the lovers must venture to uncover it little by little continually all their lives.

The annals of Mewar trace the line of their kings back to lava, the elder son of illustrious Rama; after whom the city of Lohkot or Lahore was named, and from which city one Kanaksen had emigrated to Saurastra around AD 144, where he wrested, from a prince of Parmar clan, a dominion for himself and his clansmen and founded Birnagar. Subsequently, four generations later, came Vijayasen also popularly known as Nushirwan who founded Vijaypura, Vidarba, and Vallabhi of which in due course the last one obtained a universal celebrity. The historical existence of this place is attested by the Jain work ‘Satrunjaya Mahatma’.

A work of history, composed to commemorate the rein of Rana Raj Singh gives a rather graphic account of the fall of Vallabhipura: ” In the west is Saurastra, a country well known. The barbarians invaded it and conquered Bal-ka-nath; all fell except the daughter of the Paramars”.
Of this royal family whose erstwhile chief was Siladitya, queen Padmavati who was expecting at the time and was on a pilgrimage, alone survived. She was the daughter of the Parmara king of Chandravati. No sooner had she embarked upon her homeward journey than the catastrophic news of events that befell her family was broken to her. A capacious grief took possession of her bosom; and having taken refuge in a cave, she gave birth to a boy, whom she handed over to a Brahmani named Kamlavati instructing her to raise him as a Brahmin but to marry him to a Rajputani. Having thus made the arrangements for her infant son, the queen immolated herself to join her lord.

The orphan prince was named ‘Guha’ or ‘Cave-born’ after the circumstance of his birth by his new custodians. He grew up among the bhils and in no time became their soverign. His descendants after his name came to be known as ‘Guhilot’ or ‘Grahilot’, which in due course got macerated to ‘Gehlot’. The chronicles inform us that his descendants ruled Idar with its woods, mountains, and aborigines for 8 generations before they were deprived of power by the bhils. Nagaditya, the prince was slain by them on a hunting expedition and once again the duty of protecting the royal line of Vallabhipura fell upon the Birnagar Brahmins. Infant Bappa, the son of Nagaditya was removed to the wilds of Parasar.

Early years : His survival and pastimes at Nagda

The young prince spent his early years at Nagda, a religious abode of ascetics located close to Udaipur, where several old inscriptions related to the family attest the fact of their domination upon this land abounding in hamlets. The folk tradition is still ripe with numerous anecdotes bearing upon the infancy of Bappa. Here the young prince tended the sacred kine much like the young Krishna of yore; and even married the young daughter of Solanki chief of Nagda along with her female attendants in a prank, which misadventure caused him to flee Nagda and eventually paved the way of his future greatness.

Bappa : The one touched by the divine hand.

During his days at Nagda where he took great delight in tending the kine, something extraordinary came to pass, which helped the royal shepherd win the favor of divinity. Tradition tells us that one of his kines, unlike others, would invariably enter the pens dry. This mystical phenomenon forced the prince to watch this one more meticulously than the rest, and on one day to his shock he discovered that the kine was spontaneously emptying her reserves upon a spot covered with shrubs inside a narrow valley. He rushed to the spot and found a hermit sitting in a meditative posture with his consciousness reposed in a trance under the cover of shrubs. From which state he was now roused by the gentle violence caused in removing the thicket. It is said that it is on this spot where Bappa met the sage, now stands the majestic shrine of Eklingnath.

The young prince would visit the hermit daily with roots and flowers, and would receive from the holy man in turn lessons on morality and religion. In due course of time the hermit took him for his pupil and initiated him into the secret rites of Shiva, upon the successful completion of which practice, he was visited by the mother Goddess. And as if as a divine favor, the mother invested his person with infallible celestial weapons of all varieties and blessed him to father a line of 100 kings which will obtain universal celebrity in the world.

Having thus been touched by the divinity, and knowing well that he was the nephew of the Mori chief of Chittor and a scion of the old imperial house of Vallabhipura, he collected a few clansmen of his and entered into the service of the Mori chief of Chittor. He was received well and a suitable estate conferred upon him. In due course he became the favorite of the king as well as his nobles. He impressed every one with his uncommon talents both at the court and in the field of battle and it didn’t take him long to eclipse the Parmar himself. In the aftermath of the Arab invasion, which deposed the Mori from his seat of power, eventually, with the unflinching support of nobility of Chittor Bappa rose to power and became the undisputed leader of Rajputs of Chittor and it’s dependencies. Mori married his daughter to him and adopted him as his heir and the ruler of Chittor.

Bappa: The conqueror & the molester of his foreign foes.

The Arabs after consolidating their power in Sindh invaded India and initially threw many small kingdoms in the North, west, and central India into disarray. The Moris of Chittor were also dislodged from their seat of power along with several other rulers such as those of Bhinmal and Mandor. During this hour of crises, Bappa Rawal emerged as a leader of resistance against Arabs. He united Rajputs across Rajasthan, and became the rallying point of Rajput resistance against Arabs. Under his leadership the Rajputs of Rajasthan joined the confederacy forged by Prathihara king Nagahbhatta 1st and inflicted a series of crushing defeats upon his foe in Rajasthan. It is said, that after having forced the enemy to flee his motherland, he carried his arms all the way to central Asia conquering barbarian strongholds on the way. He also married a large number of barbarian women from these subdued ruling families and begotten upon them numerous progeny. He is said to have reached the patriarchal age of 100 before proceeding for his heavenly abode. The city of Rawalpindi in modern Pakistan was named after him which is a living testimony of his military conquest.