History of India dates back to many thousand years. It has witnessed great battles, rulers, dynasties and civilizations. But as the time progressed we have lost account of the great glory of our past. At Hindutav, we thought of compiling an article on the Ten Greatest Hindu Kings of all times, as a small tribute to such great personalities. Those kings were not only great warriors but also great rulers who always led by examples.
10. Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan is known as one of the most bravest and courageous Hindu kings. He was the last Hindu king, before Hemu, to control the Delhi throne. He sat at the throne at an early age of 13. Initially, he ruled from two different capitals of Ajmer and Delhi. He reigned over the present day Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and North western Pakistan. He was a very valiant and great leader but also known as a passionate lover. His love for his wife Sanyogita is still touted as a great tale of sacrifice and love.
He is credited to unify his surrounding kingdoms against the Turkish invaders. In the first Battle of Tarain in 1191, Prithviraj Chauhan comprehensively defeated the Muslim ruler Mohammad Ghauri and made him captive. Ghauri begged for mercy and vowed that he would never come to India again. Prithviraj being a true Rajput forgave his enemy and set him free. But Ghauri returned the very next year in 1192 with a massive army and deceitfully defeated Prithviraj Chauhan. The great Hindu king of Delhi was taken captive and brought to Kandahar in present day Afghanistan, where he was permanently blinded by putting hot iron rods into his eyes.
Prithviraj was known for his marksmanship and Ghauri wanted Prithviraj to showcase his skills in front of him. Prithviraj agreed on the insistence of his poet Chand Bardai who was also taken captive. Hence, Prithviraj was summoned in the court of Mohammed Ghauri, to showcase his great skills. Just as Mohammed Ghauri ordered Prithviraj to hit the target, Chand Bardai hinted Prithviraj about the position of Mohammed Ghauri, the great Rajput king calculated the right distance and direction in which Mohammed Ghauri was sitting. Within the next few seconds, Prithviraj took aim and shot an arrow, right into the throat of Ghauri. The Muslim ruler died on the spot. Prithviraj had succeeded in his final battle. Later, the great Rajput was stabbed by Chand Bardai as decided earlier and Bardai killed himself as well. The grave of the great Prithviraj Chauhan is still in Kandahar.
Hemu also known as Hemu Vikramaditya or Hemchandra Vikramaditya was a great Hindu emperor of North India during the 16th century, a period in the Indian history dominated by Mughals and the Afghans. Hemu was born in a mediocre Brahmin family, he started off as a salt merchant but rose to prominence later and became Prime Minister under Adil Shah Suri. Initially, he fought Afghan rebels who were against Adil Shah. Later as Adil Shah lost his mental balance, Hemu took over as the emperor of Delhi. After that he waged many wars against Mughals under Humayun and later Akbar. He is renowned to win 22 consecutive battles against the Muslim rulers.
Hemu assumed the title of Vikramaditya after becoming the king of Delhi. He re-installed Hindu rule over North India after a period of about 350 years. Hemu was a brilliant military commander and a great ruler too. Such was his military prowess that he almost singlehandedly wiped out Muslims (Both Afghans and Mughals) out of India. Even the 14 year old Akbar was planning to flee to Afghanistan due to Hemu’s aggressive stance and heroism. Mughals had started to make arrangements to leave India. But when the forces of Hemu met the Mughals in the battle of Panipat, fate had other plans. Victory for Hemu was looking inevitable as being a true Hindu king, he led from the front. He was almost on the verge of winning the battle when an arrow pierced through his eye, resulting in him getting imbalanced from his war elephant and falling to the ground. As soon as their king was knocked out, Hemu’s forces lost courage and eventually surrendered before an almost defeated Mughal army. Hemu, who was badly injured was captured by the Mughals. Hemu, along with his surrendering forces was beheaded to form a mountain of Hindu skulls.
That was the unfortunate story of a great warrior, who was betrayed by the fate. Had he survived, history of India would have been very different.
8. Maharana Pratap Singh
The great Maharana Pratap Singh is often called as the first freedom fighter of India. His entire life was a battle against the tyranny of Muslim invaders. He ruled from Mewar, in Rajasthan. He was a Suryavanshi Sisodhia Rajput, Sisodhias are the direct descendants of Lord Rama.
Maharana Pratap was the son of Maharana Udai Singh and grandson of Maharana Sangha. Pratap is an epitome of greatness, ultimate courage, extreme bravery, chivalry and sacrifice. All the Rajputs look up to Maharana Pratap in a great sense of pride and respect.
The greatness of Maharana Pratap is attributed to the events when Mughal empire was at its peak under Akbar and every kingdom in India was surrendering to the Mughal menace either by choice or by forceful annexation.
But Maharana Pratap was a man of respect, he declined to surrender his kingdom of Mewar. Rajput kings in those days considered it very dishonorable to surrender or to accept a Muslim as their emperor. Moreover, Akbar was a foreigner and Pratap could die for his honor but would not surrender to a foreigner.
So, the circumstances intensified when Akbar decided to crush Maharana Pratap and his forces at Haldighati, a small mountain pass in the Aravali ranges of Rajasthan. Numerically, the Mughal army was way superior and dominated the Rajput forces by 4:1 in numbers. Moreover, the artillery used by the Mughals was very potent and proved decisive in the battle. But the Rajputs fought against all odds and though being very lesser in number, their morale was very high. Maharana Pratap led from the front and charged straight ahead at the Mughals. The Rajputs gave fierce opposition to the large Mughal army but were eventually outnumbered. Maharana Pratap had to leave the battlefield on the insistence of his generals. Pratap left the battle ground with a heavy heart but throughout his life, he continued his struggle against the freedom of Mewar.
Maharana Pratap devised and excelled the art of Guerilla warfare. Even though he had lost his kingdom, his struggle continued for many years. He established his base in the Aravali hills and built forts in the mountains. Through his advanced fighting strategies, Pratap won most of the Mewar back from the Mughals till his death in 1597. Thereby, inspiring many other fighters throughout the country to rise against the Mughals and to fight for their motherland.
7. Raja Raja Chola
Raja Raja Chola I, also known as Raja Raja the Great, is one of the greatest Conquerors of India, who ruled from 985 and 1014 AD. Such was his greatness, that he developed a great naval force and his famous conquests to Burma, Sri Lanka and many islands of modern day Indonessia, Cambodia and Thailand proved pivotal in setting up Chola Empire as one of the greatest kingdoms in the history of Asia.
Earlier, we mentioned about the great kings of North India who fought in negative circumstances against a much stronger Muslim invaders. But Raja Raja Chola was conqueror himself. He not only captured adjoining territories of South India including Odisha, modern day Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and parts of Maharashtra but also annexed his rule outside of the India. He laid the foundation stone of the glory of Chola Empire which was further expanded by his son Rajendra Chola.
Raja Raja Chola was not only a great conqueror but also a great administrator. Stories and tales are written on his eye for justice and equality. Moreover, he is considered as one of the greatest patrons of art in India. Because during his reign, art and craft flourished to an enormous extent in South India. He build many different beautiful rock-cut temples in his kingdom as well. Rajaraja is credited for a Shiva temple in Taliparamba in the Kannur district of Kerala also known as the Rajarajeshwara temple. He also built the Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. This temple is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was during his reign that Tamil literature reached its peak. The greatest compilation of Tamil literature Thirumurai was written during his reign. Many famous Tamil poets such as Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar lived during Raja Raja Chola’s time.
6. Chandragupta Vikramaditya
Chandragupta Vikramaditya or the Chandragupta II was a king of Gupta dynasty considered as the greatest benevolent ruler in the entire Indian history. He succeeded his father, the great Samudragupta in 380 A.D. From his father, he got an enormous empire to his helm. The entire Indian subcontinent, from Burma in the east to Afghanistan in the west and entire Kashmir in the North. Even the south Indian kings had annexed themselves to the great Gupta king. But more than a great military general like his father, Vikramaditya is renowned for his love for arts, education, equality and benevolence. During his reign art, architecture, and sculpture flourished magnificently. It was rightly the climax of cultural development of India. Hence, called as the Golden Age of India.
As Vikramaditya was a great lover of art and culture, he appointed nine distinct artists and scholars in his court known as the Nine Gems or Navratanas. Each Navratana was a master of its own field.
- Amarsimha – Amarsimha, the great Sanskrit lexicographer. His greatest creation “Amarkosha” is a collection of Sanskrit vocabulary.
- Dhanvantri – Dhanvantri was a great Physician and master of Ayurveda.
- Harisena – Harisena was a very famous poet, he was the creator of Prayag Prasasti.
- Kalidasa – Kalidasa is probably the greatest poet in the Indian history. His most famous work being Meghduta and Abhijnansakuntalam. Works of Kalidasa have been translated to many languages around the world.
- Kahapanaka – Kahapanka was a great astrologer in the court of Vikramaditya. His forecasts were always accurate and precise.
- Sanku – Sanku was the chief architect of Vikramaditya. All the temples, buildings, monuments in his reign were designed by Sanku.
- Varahamihira – Varahamihira was an ancient scientist, mathematician and an astronomer. He had mastery over study of movement of stars and planets. His famous works are: Panchasiddhantika, Brihat Samhita, and Brihat Jataka.
- Vararuchi – Vararuchi was a great scholar and grammarian in the court of Vikramaditya. In some of the historical scriptures, he has been called as the Katyayana. Vararuchi composed Prakrit Prakasha, first grammar of Prakrit language.
- Vetalbhatta – Vetalbhatta was a Mragha Brahmin (the natives of Iran). He was a great illusionist and magician. His creation “Niti-pradeepa”, his most famous work.
Vikramaditya had his capital at Ujjain. The beautiful temples and monuments at Ujjain represent the peak of art and architecture during his rule. Not only his love for art and craft, but also his sense of equality and religious tolerance was applaudable. As Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism co-existed peacefully during his reign.Vikramaditya was a great diplomat as well. He married princesses of Naga and Vakataka dynasties, the sworn enemies of Guptas from many years and turned his nemesis into allies.
Soon after the death of the great Chandragupta Vikramaditya, Gupta dynasty started to weaken and lost its glory. In another hundred years, they were reduced to a very small kingdom and eventually faded away due to the rise of various other kingdoms.
To be continued….
If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out our post “Unknown facts of Partition – 1947 black Year of Indian History.”