The name of Raja Man Singh doesn’t need any introduction.A scion of Kachwaha Kshatriya dynasty, he was one of the most powerful people of his time. He has also been one of the most misunderstood characters in the history with discourse around him almost always generating controversial and polarising opinions.
For decades, propagandists with vested interests have sought to vilify and besmirch the legacy of a king who was once the most powerful grandee of the Mughal Empire. A man of extraordinary genius and resolute courageousness , he is in the league of a few who have left an indelible mark on the pages of Indian history .
Tasked with commanding the imperial forces, he proved to be a meticulous tactician, a strategist par excellence with his brilliance shining like a veritable diamond evoking responses of awe from the friends and foes alike.
His military successes in the North Western and the Eastern part of the subcontinent where he was primarily given the task of subduing the unruly afghans, a tribe of proud relentless warriors, have permanently entered his name in the annals of the history. Not only did he manage to subordinate and root out the resistance among the obstinate pashtuns, something tried so earnestly by Britain, USSR and USA in the recent times but to no avail, he also made the narrow passes of North West secure , protecting India from the menace of foreign incursions thus contributing to the overall general stability that prevailed in the region.
While many people do take note of the shining military exploits of Raja Man Singh (though begrudgingly of course), only a few are truly acquainted with his extensive role in contributing to the rich heritage of India, giving it a massive push in the otherwise stagnant hindu cultural milieu of the time. His constant engagement in the warfare and other state activity didn’t prevent him from developing a taste for artistic objects.
This aspect of his personality hasn’t been understood in it’s true perspective so far on account of general apathy displayed by the historians who for some reason chose to glance over it.
Raja Man Singh was an extremely religious man and a great devotee of Hinduism. He was free from bigotry and general narrow mindedness and believed in full toleration in matters of religion. His unwavering faith in his religion can be borne out from the incident where he emphatically spurned the emperor’s offer to convert to his newly founded din e ilahi. His devotion to Hinduism is amply proved by the large scale temple construction that he undertook while serving in the different parts of the country.
He erected at Vrindavan, a temple of Govinddeva. Fergusson in his history of Indian and Eastern Architecture considered it to be ” one of the most interesting and eloquent temples in India and the only one , perhaps from which a European architect might borrow a few hints”. The temple is an imposing structure built of a red stone . The original design provided for five towers which were never completed . The pillars are richly carved with hindi and sanskrit inscriptionse found inside the temple.
The Jagatsiromani temple of Amber is one of the brilliant specimens of Raja Man Singh’s architecture. A beautiful four-storeyed marble building, it has been built after the Khajuraho style which had attained a great populariy in medieval times in Rajasthan.
He built a beautiful temple at Varanasi, a major Hindu religious centre, a fact mentioned by Jahangir in his memoirs. Abdul Latif, a Muslim chronicler in his diary has referred to the architectural beauty of this temple wishing very much that it was built in the service of Islam rather than Hinduism.
Raja Man Singh was also responsible for either constructing or repairing a large number of temples while he was a governor in the eastern provinces. He visited Baidyanath Dham and built some edifices there. He is also credited with erecting a embankment nearby on a large tank, the western portion of which is called Man Sarovar. He also repaired two temples in the village Para in the state of Bihar as attested by Manbhum District Gazetteer.
A group of temples in the village Telkupi situated in Bengal underwent extensive repairs and alterations during the governership of Man Singh there, same with the case of a large temple in the village of dhad ki taur in the Manbhum district.
He raised a Shiva temple at Baikatpur in Patna, Bihar. He also built a beautiful Shiva temple at Manpur in Gaya town.
He brought the image of Sila Devi from Eastern Bengal and installed it as a protecting deity in a temple at the gate of Amber palace.
He wrested the temple of Jagannath at Puri from the occupying Afghans who had held it forcibly to the extreme discomfiture of the local devotees who had to bear the brunt of the cruel and tyrannous policies of the turbulent Pathans. Later onwards, he selected the Raja of Khurda as the Superintendent of the temple and entrusted the administration of it on him, whose descendents were later came to be known as Rajas of Puri.
Manpur, the headquarter of a pargana in Bhopawar agency situated in the Central India is said to have derived it’s name from Raja Man Singh.
He was also a great patron of learning and encouraged and assisted a lot many renowned poets of the time by amply rewarding them. He was intimately connected with the noted poets of Akbar’s darbar , for example, Dursaji, Brahmabhatt, Hol Rai, Gang and others.
Not only that, he himself was a man of letters and was held in high esteem for his learning by his contemporaries.
He released farmans in Hindustani thus contributing to the evolution of Hindustani prose.
Raja Man Singh was a visionary, the likes of whom are born once in a generation. His contribution to the growth of Hindu dharma was virtually unmatched by anyone. His descendants carried on this legacy of selflessly serving the Dharma through their boundless charity to the pious and their patronage of the sacred learning of their faith.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.