Raja, (Hindi) a ruler of exalted rank but inferior to Maharana or Maharawal. Variations: Maharaja, Rai, Raikat, Raj, Rana, Rao, Rawal, Rawat.
Raja Dhiraj, (Hindi) King of Kings.
Raja Man of Amber: see MAN SINGH, RAJA (of Amber)
Rajasthan (The Place of Kings, The Land of Kings), the home of the legendary RAJPUTS, who (apart from MEWAR) eventually comprised a good part of the army of the Mughal emperors who ruled from Delhi. On many occasions the Imperial Army was led by Rajput generals, the most important being MAN SINGH of Amber who fought Maharana PRATAP SINGH I of Mewar at the Battle of HALDIGHATI (1576). Largely consisting of rocky areas and the massive Thar Desert, Rajasthan is one of the least densely populated states in India. Its main cities are Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Alwar. The State capital is Jaipur. Rajasthan is headed by a governor, appointed by the president of the Indian Union, whom he represents for a five-year term. He exercises administrative, legislative, financial, and judicial powers, under the control of the Legislative Assembly. Rajasthan is bounded on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and on the southwest by Gujarat. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the southern tip in the Banswara district. Its area is 342,267 sq. km.
The state is divided into twenty-eight districts, Udaipur being one of them. It is a predominantly agricultural and pastoral state. Despite a low and erratic rainfall, nearly all types of crops are grown (mainly maize in Udaipur), and it exports food grains and vegetables. Although much of the land is arid, Rajasthan has a large livestock population in comparison with the rest of India. It is the largest wool-producing state, and has a monopoly on camels: the annual Pushkar Fair near Ajmer is a mixed religious festival and livestock market, with camels dominating the sales. Hardly a month passes in Rajasthan without a religious festival, with Hindus and Muslims joining in each other's celebrations. Before 1947, when India won its independence from British rule, as RAJPUTANA it was comprised of eighteen princely states, two chiefdoms, the small British-administered province of Ajmer-Merwara, and a few pockets of territory outside its main boundaries. After 1947, all princely states and chiefdoms were integrated, in stages, with India. The State became Rajasthan on November 1, 1956.
Rajasthani, formerly the principal language of RAJASTHAN, comprising a group of Indo-Aryan dialects (MARWARI, JAIPURI or Dhundari, MALWI, and MEWATI) derived from DINGAL. The use of Rajasthani is declining with the spread of modern education, its place being taken by HINDI.
Raj-Kavi, (Hindi) the title of a Court poet (Charan) whose job was to celebrate great occasions in verse and who had the right to recite and to be heard at durbars even if it made everyone squirm! (He had the privilege of telling the truth, even about the Ruler.) Also, he took precedence over other poets present, though some were possibly better versifiers than he was. See also BARDS; CHARANS.
Rajkumar (Kumar), (Hindi) the title of the son of a Rajput ruler.
Rajkumari (Kumari), (Hindi) the title of the daughter of a Rajput ruler.
Rajmata (Queen Mother), (Hindi) the title of the mother of a Rajput ruler.
Rajmata Gulab Kunwarji Charitable Trust, part of the Non Commercial Division of the MAHARANA MEWAR INSTITUTION TRUST; established to assist women and children, particularly from Mewar and Rajasthan, and all women who have acted as servants for the Royal Family.
Rajnagar, a town about 66 km. north of Udaipur, near the turn-off to Kankroli and RAJSAMAND LAKE; founded by Maharana RAJ SINGH I (1653-1680). It is an area famous for its white marble, which is sold world-wide. In the late 1600s, Crown Prince Amar Singh retired to Rajnagar after agreeing to the peace terms proposed by his father, Maharana JAI SINGH (1680-1698). The Prince had taken up arms against the Court and Mewar was on the verge of a civil war. Upon the death of the Maharana, Amar returned to Udaipur and ascended the throne as Maharana AMAR SINGH II.
Rajprashasti, the 1,017-verse inscription by Ranchhod Bhatt, on white marble tablets (the world's longest inscription on stone) at RAJSAMAND LAKE. See AMARKAVYA.
Raj-purohit, (Hindi) a court chaplain. See also PUROHIT.
Rajputana (Home of the Rajputs), the more common name for Rajasthan during the British regime. It consisted of Princely States and chiefdoms, each with its own independent ruler, of which Mewar was considered the leader. The major States were Mewar (or Udaipur); Marwar (or Jodhpur); Bikaner and Kishangarh; Kota and Bundi (or Haroti); Amber (or Jaipur) with its dependent and independent branches; Jaisalmer; also the vast Thar Desert.
Rajputs (literally sons of kings), originally a warlike race of warriors. Today, though representing only a small percentage of the Indian population, they form the most important section of the population in Rajasthan. Most of the thirty-six Rajput clans (a number mentioned by TOD in his ANNALS) are said to be descendants of Central Asian tribes (Huns and Scythians) who first entered India some fifteen hundred years ago. Gradually, they adopted Indian customs, and became members of the Indian community. They established their own kingdoms and soon achieved respectability as members of the Hindu warrior caste of Kshatriyas. They called themselves Rajputs (sons of kings) to emphasise their claim to having descended from royal families, their mythological ancestry linked to the gods of Fire, the Moon, or the Sun. To be a Rajput with the right to bear arms and lay claim to at least one tract of land, one had to belong to one of these thirty-six royal races whose pedigrees were preserved by the chiefs in their well-kept family trees. Originally, the four major Rajput dynasties were the Pratiharas, Paramaras, Chauhans and Chalukyas. The more successful kings soon spawned junior branches that carved out their own principalities. As their family deity, they adopted the Hindu Goddess of Destruction, Mahakali (KALI), requiring daily prayers and sacrifices before and after every significant event. However, many adopted a personal god from the vast Hindu pantheon. Rajput rulers used the feudal system that supported landowning Thakurs (barons) who, in turn, had dominance over serfs or farm workers. A Brahman head priest (Raj Purohit) acted as pontiff of the State. A king could not survive without this religious minority, whether in a spiritual context or in administration, as this literate class supplied him with political ministers and clerics. Finally, there was the Panchayat (the village council or panch that consisted of five leading villagers) to control municipal and domestic affairs.
Rajput men were born soldiers and became widely known for their bravery and chivalry. Their loyalty to their chieftain was obsessive, being ready to die on the battlefield in his cause. They were exceptionally good riders and ferocious in battle. It was said that there were two things a Rajput never surrendered: his horse and his sword. The Rajput code emphasised respect for women, also support for the helpless, mercy for a defeated enemy, and dignified and elegant warfare. Elegance was also the way of life at Court, where poets (CHARANS or BARDS) celebrated Rajput heroism, and courtly manners were endlessly refined, virtually becoming an art form. Rajput women wielded great influence and were as brave as their men. There are many recorded instances of a woman's warlike spirit, even of donning armour and joining her husband on the field to protect their homeland. Sometimes, when all seemed lost, rather than submit to an enemy, the women committed JAUHAR (mass suicide on a funeral fire). This happened three times in the history of Chittor. Before Rajput sons were strong enough to wield a sword, they practised with toy swords, and when they killed their first wild animal, they were congratulated and feted by all members of household. Today, Rajputs remain dedicated to their religion. Mewar's royal family, the SISODIA clan, worshipped Shiva in the shape of EKLINGJI and refer to themselves as the DIWANS OF EKLINGJI.
Brief History. After the Muslim conquest of the eastern Punjab and the Ganges valley, the Rajputs maintained their independence. Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji of Delhi (1296-1316) took the two great forts of Chittor and Ranthambhor but could not hold them. Mewar under Maharana Sanga made a bid to oust the Muslims but was defeated by the Mughal emperor Babur at Khanwa (1527). Babur's grandson, Akbar also took Chittor and Ranthambhor (1568 and 1569 respectively) then made a settlement with all the Rajput princes except Mewar. Accepting Mughal overlordship, the princes were admitted to the Emperor's court. They were rewarded with governorships and commands of the Imperial armies. Mewar still held on to its independence. Although damaged by the intolerance of Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707), this arrangement continued until the empire itself collapsed in the 1700s. The Rajputs then fell victims to the Maratha chiefs until they accepted British suzerainty (1818) at the end of the last Maratha War. After independence (1947), the Rajput states in Rajputana were merged to form the state of Rajasthan within the Indian Union (1956). See also RAJPUTANA and RAJASTHAN.
Rajsamand, a major town north of Udaipur, its major attraction being RAJSAMAND LAKE.
Rajsamand (Rajsamudra) Lake, a huge expanse of water 66 km. north of Udaipur, between the towns of RAJNAGAR and KANKROLI. The lake was the result of a dam constructed across the Gomati, Kelwa, and Tali rivers at the southwestern end by Maharana RAJ SINGH I, between 1662 and 1676 AD. The reason for the dam and lake was to provide employment for victims of a widespread drought and famine (1661), and to provide canal irrigation to local farmers. The digging of its foundations began on January 1, 1662. Ranchod Rai, the elder son of Purohit Garibdas, the Royal Priest, laid the foundation stone on April 17, 1665. Construction of the actual dam began on January 14, 1676, Maharana Raj Singh observing a fast on the previous day. The following day, after having his bath, he went to the temple with his brothers, sons, queens, and other relatives. He then observed Ratri-Jagran (the singing of devotional songs) all night.
Rajsamand Lake is the oldest known relief work in Rajasthan and cost almost 4 million rupees. With a circumference of 7.5 km., the lake is quite awe-inspiring. It is roughly 6 km. long and 2.5 km. wide, with a depth of 18 m., and a catchment area of some 508 sq. km. As large as it is, the lake has been known to disappear in times of severe drought: for instance, in 2000, it was merely a huge, empty basin with a surface of dried, cracked mud. The late monsoon the following year partly refilled it, but the water level remained dangerously low.
At the Kankroli (southern) end, the lake has an immense white stone embankment, 183 m. long and 12 m. high, with terraces of large marble and stone ghats (steps) leading down to the water's edge. Along the embankment are ornamental arches and pavilions, commissioned by Princess CHARUMATI, from another branch of the Sisodia family, in gratitude to Maharana Raj Singh I, who married her to prevent her marriage to Mughal Emperor AURANGZEB. The five toranas (weighing arches) seen here are where Raj Singh and his successors performed the event called Tuladan: they were weighed in gold and jewels, the cash value of which was distributed among Brahmans, and for the construction of temples and tanks for the welfare of the people. The colonnaded pavilions are decorated with depictions of the sun, chariots, gods, dancing girls and birds, exquisite carvings that are claimed to be unique in India. A special feature of Rajsamand is a long Sanskrit inscription on twenty-seven white marble blocks, dated 1675/76 (see AMARKAVYA). The Rajsamand district was also the scene of a desperate battle in the late 17th century between Mewar and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and is linked with the name of ANAND SINGH, an officer in the Mewar army, who fought and died there, when left with only a small force to defend the dam from the Mughals (see also RAJ SINGH I vs. AURANGZEB). During World War II, Rajsamand Lake was used as a seaplane base by Imperial Airways for about six years.
Rajsamudra Lake: see RAJSAMAND LAKE.
raj-tilak, a TILAK mark made on the forehead of a Maharana at the time of his coronation. In reality, there is no crown as such involved at a Mewar coronation. A tilak is applied on the forehead of the king, either by a priest, a kinsman, or a farmer, and he is proclaimed king. The ceremony differs from State to State.
Rajwara, the terminology used for any Rajput kingdom.