Maharana Pratap Chair has been established in October 2017 in the Depatment of History on the initiative of Government of Punjab.
Maharana Pratap (1540-97 A.D.) occupies a significant place in the galaxy of those historical figures of India, who have influenced its course of historical development. A man of great ideals representing the elemental spirit of India, his heroism and indefatigable spirit against all odds, his tenacity of purpose and undaunted dedication to safeguard the liberty of his country at all costs find few parallels in history. A proud and courageous Maharana Pratap inherited a glorious legacy and thus could not meekly submit to the rising power of the Mughals like the other Rajput rulers. He succeeded to the titles and renown of an illustrious house, but without a capital, without resources, his kindred and clan dispirited by reverses. However the magnitude of the peril confirmed the fortitude of Pratap who vowed to 'make his mother's milk resplendent' and he amply redeemed his pledge single handed.
The battle of Haldighati (1576 A.D.) remains an enduring memorial of his unshakable faith and unflinching resistance. Truly, the Maharana may have lost the battle but he won the war. Every drop of Rajput blood which fell on the field during the frightful struggle and the subsequent carnage blossomed forth into living hatred and rancour against the aggressors.
Moreover, more than anything else, Maharana Pratap must be honored for beginning that system of warfare for which credit has hitherto gone to Shivaji and the Marathas viz. the system of guerilla warfare. He taught the Rajputs that it was as heroic to fight and run away, if one could succeed ultimately, as to fight and die on the battlefield-indeed the former paid greater dividends. His indefatigable activities bring into bold relief what a single individual fired with a tenacity of purpose can achieve even when pitted against the heaviest odds. These also testify to the nobility of his character. His code of chivalry insisted that he play fair with his adversary and treat the latter's womenfolk with honour and give them safe conduct when captured-a rare event in those times.
For twenty five years Emperor Akbar and Maharana Pratap looked each other in the face. In this great contest the Emperor's object was offensive, whereas that of the Rana defensive. The Emperor desired the death of the Rana and the absorption of his territory in the imperial dominions. The Rana, while fully prepared to sacrifice his life, if necessary was resolved that his country should remain a land of freemen. After much tribulation he succeeded, and Akbar failed. During the freedom struggle against British rule in India, Maharana Pratap became a source of inspiration for the Indians. Pratap figures in all regional literature from Punjab to Bengal and from Uttar Pradesh to Karnataka as a great national hero bequeathing precious heritage of selfless struggle for freedom against foreign domination.
Further, a perusal of the life and struggle of Maharana Pratap against the Mughals brings forth some points of similarities with the Sikh struggle against Mughals especially under Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur and other Sikh leaders of the eighteenth century. Like the Rajputs, the Sikhs were known for their martial prowess and bravery. Again, Maharana Pratap opposed the tyranny of the Mughals and preferred to fight relentlessly against all odds and was even prepared to sacrifice his life for his mission. Similar was the struggle of the Sikh Gurus and later Sikh leaders and the Khalsa who never submitted to the Mughal oppression and tyranny and fought for political justice and freedom.
No doubt the Rajputs were the immediate neighbours of the Sikhs or vice versa and they often came into contact with each other but very little is known about the relations between them. All the places visited by Guru Nanak in Rajasthan and the persons who came into contact with him are still shrouded in mystery and need to be researched. The analysis of Sikh sources confirm that Sikh Gurus enjoyed cordial relations with some of the Rajput Chiefs. Guru Tegh Bahadur and Raja Ram Singh of Jaipur had come into personal contact and lent helping hand to one another to solve the crisis they faced. It also seems that many Rajputs were attracted to Guru Gobind Singh chiefly because of his spirit of defiance and struggle against the unjust rule of the Mughals. The triple league that the chiefs of Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur had formed in 1708 to fight jointly against the Mughals can largely be attributed to the influence of Guru Gobind Singh.
An important factor in the Rajput-Sikh relations in the later half of the eighteenth century, was the rise of the Jats and Marathas as forces to reckon with. The Marathas had expanded their hold on Rajputana and levied chauth on almost all the Rajput states. By this time the Sikhs had become the sovereign rulers of Punjab and established their rakhi system in Jamuna Gangetic Doab including the Jat state of Bharatpur. After the death of Sawai Madho Singh in 1768, there was a regency crisis in Jaipur and they preferred the Sikh system of rakhi to the Maratha system of chauth. Thus came the treaty of Jan 25, 1787 signed between the Sikh leaders and Sawai Pratap Singh of Jaipur. The vacillating relations between Sikhs and Rajputs and their far reaching consequences have so far been ignored by historians. Further, the availability of primary and contemporary Rajasthani resources available at Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner have not been analyzed by historians working on the history of Punjab which need proper evaluation and can lead to the discovery of new facts hitherto unknown or lesser known.