Who was Rana Sanga?
Maharana Sangram Singh, commonly known as Rana Sanga, was the ruler of Mewar and one of the most prominent Rajput leaders in the 16th century India. He belonged to Sisodiya clan of Rajput and ruled between 1508 and 1528. He is known for his valour and the courage with which he fought against the Mughal invader Babur. The son of Rana Raimal, he succeeded to the throne after his father’s death following a prolonged power struggle against his brothers. He reigned during a very tumultuous period in Indian history. The Rajput dynasty was well-known for its brave warriors and its powerful hold on its territories in the Indian subcontinent. During the 16th century, the Rajput dynasty challenged all the non-Indian Muslim dynasties of India. After ascending to the throne Rana Sanga strengthened his position in Mewar, and began his struggles against the invading Muslims. Accompanied by Rajput rebels, Sanga defeated invading armies and obtained control of Malwa. He then turned his attention towards north-eastern Rajasthan, which was then under the control of Ibrahim Lodi. Sanga was badly injured in the wars between the Rajputs and Lodi’s troops but he repeatedly defeated Lodi. As he grew in power, war with the Mughals became inevitable and Sanga was defeated by Babur in the Battle of Khanwa, and died shortly after.
Childhood & Early Life
Sangram Singh was born on12 April 1484 to Rana Raimal, a Rajput ruler of Mewar, in Malwa, Rajasthan, India. He belonged to Sisodiya clan of Rajputs. He had several brothers.
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Accession & Reign
Rana Sanga succeeded his father, Rana Raimal, as king of Mewar, in 1508, following a fierce power struggle against his brothers. Upon assuming the throne he set about consolidating his powers in Mewar.
Having established his stronghold in Mewar, he turned his attention to the troubled neighboring kingdom of Malwa which was reeling under internal conflicts. The ruler of Malwa, Mehmod Khilji sought outside assistance from both Sultan Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi and Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. His Rajput wazir, Medini Rai, requested Sanga to come to his aid.
The prolonged conflicts between Mewar and the Muslim sultans of North India culminated in the Battle of Gagron. Sanga successfully defeated Khilji and his allies after a series of fierce battles. He took Khilji as a prisoner though he later freed him in exchange of taking his sons hostage in Mewar's capital, Chittor. Thus Rana Sanga successfully conquered Malwa.
Rana Sanga emerged as a powerful ruler after conquering Malwa. He grew more ambitious and turned his attention towards north-eastern Rajasthan, which was then under the control Khilji's ally, Lodi. He invaded the region and was successful in capturing several major areas, including the fort of Ranthambore.
Lodi retaliated and invaded Mewar. Sanga’s forces proved to be too strong for Lodi’s ethnic Afghans. The ensuing conflict, the Battle of Khatoli (Gwalior) was a very fierce one and Sanga lost his left arm and was crippled in one leg. But the Rajputs successfully gained land.
Humiliated by the defeat in the Battle of Khatoli, Lodi fought Sanga again in the Battle of Dholpur and was humbled again. A few more battles followed and eventually Sanga was able to capture much of the region in present-day Rajasthan and extend his kingdom vastly.
With his growing stature as a powerful ruler in India, he gained much recognition. Now counted as a principal player in the power struggle to rule the northern territories of India, he set his ambitions high and planned to capture Delhi and bring the whole of India under his control.
He proceeded to wage a war against the Mughal invader, Babur. He solicited the support of others like Raja Hasan Khan Mewati and the Afghan, Mehmud Lodi and Raja Medini Rai of Alwar. This combined troop met Babur’s army at Khanwa near Fatehpur Sikri in 1527.
The battle was a brutal one and bitterly contested. At a crucial moment in the battle, one of Sanga’s allies, Silhadi, betrayed the maharana. While Rana Sanga struggled to rebuild his army, he was wounded and fell down unconscious from his horse. The Rajput army thought that Sanga was dead, and they fled in panic. This enabled the Mughals to claim victory.
The loyal followers of Sanga took him to safety and saved his life. On regaining his health, the maharana vowed to reclaim his kingdom from Babur. His plans for another battle with the powerful Mughals was not supported by his nobles and is it suggested that they poisoned Sanga due to their disapproval.
The Battle of Khatoli which Rana Sanga fought against Ibrahim Lodi was a resounding success for the Rajputs. The Maharana lost an arm by a sword cut, and was made lame for life by an arrow injury during the battle but this did not deter his spirit even a bit. Soon the Battle of Dholpur against the same adversary followed and once again Sanga defeated Lodi and captured most of present day Rajasthan.
The biggest battle Sanga fought was the Battle of Khanwa against the first Mughal Emperor Babur. Sanga’s forces were defeated in the battle resulting in Mughal victory which consolidated the new Mughal dynasty in India.
Personal Life & Legacy
Rana Sanga was married to Rani Karnavati and was the father of Bhoj Raj, Ratan Singh II, Vikramaditya Singh, and Udai Singh II.
He died on 30 January 1528, aged 43. It is believed that he was poisoned by some of his nobles.