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Man Singh
Raja Man Singh I of Amber
King of Amber
Personal details
Born (1550-12-21)December 21, 1550
Amber, Rajasthan, India
Died July 6, 1614(1614-07-06) (aged 63)
Ellichpur, Maharashtra, India
Religion Hinduism

Man Singh (Man Singh I) (December 21, 1550 – July 6, 1614) was the Kacchwaha King of Amber, a state later known as Jaipur. He was a trusted general of the Mughal emperor Akbar, who included him among the Navaratnas, or the 9(nava) gems(ratna) of the royal court.[1][2]

Early life of Man Singh I

A painting depicting Akbar wrestling with Raja Man Singh.[3]

He was the son of Raja Bhagwant Das and Rani Sa Bhagawati Ji Sahiba of Amber. He was born on Sunday, December 21, 1550. He was about eight years younger than Mughal Emperor Akbar who was born on November 23, 1542 and about ten years younger than Rana Pratap who was born on May 9, 1540, These three great personalities, of the same generation, had a great impact on sixteenth century India's polity, society, and history. They are remembered with reverence in India, although Rana Pratap fought unrelenting wars with both of them. Raja Bharmal, the first Rajput ruler to marry his daughter to a Mughal, was Man Singh I's grandfather.

Initially known as Kunwar (prince), Man Singh received the title of Mirza Raja and the mansab (rank) of 5000 after the death of his father on December 10, 1589 from Akbar.[4] On August 26, 1605, Man Singh became a mansabdar of 7,000, i.e., a commander of 7,000 cavalry in the Mughal forces, which was the maximum command for anyone other than a son of the Mughal emperor and the guardian of Khusrau, the eldest son of Jahangir.[5] Akbar called him Farzand (son). He fought many important campaigns for Akbar. Kunwar Man Singh led the Mughal Army in the well-known battle of Haldighati fought in 1576 between the Mughal Empire and Maha Rana Pratap.[6]

Conflict with Rana Pratap

Man Singh was sent by Akbar to bite Maha Rana Pratap to make a treaty with Akbar and accept Mughal sovereignty. But Maha Rana Pratap, as a grandson of Rana Sanga, considered the Mughals invaders and intruders on Indian territory; he declined to accept Akbar's sovereignty.

On the day of their meeting Maha Rana Pratap invited Man Singh for dinner. Maha Rana Pratap deliberately avoided attending the dinner in person and sent his son "Kunwar" Amar Singh to dine with "Kunwar" Man Singh (as a custom Rajput men are called "Kunwar" in the lifetime of their father). The attitude of other Rajput nobles was also discouraging. They were secretly making mockery of Man Singh as his aunt Jodhabai was married to Akbar. Man Singh took this as an insult to Akbar and himself. He knew Maha Rana Pratap was making an excuse to avoid him. He refused to dine with Amar Singh. He remarked, "I will come again and then will have a dinner". Understanding the hidden meaning a noble of Pratap remarked "well, don't forget to bring your uncle Akbar". This laid the foundation of war between the Mughals and Rana Pratap, who already had many decades of rivalry and enmity.

Appointed by Akbar to lead the Mughal Army against Rana Pratap, Kunwar Man Singh started from Ajmer on 3 April 1576. A gruesome battle was fought on June 18, 1576 at Haldi Ghati. Rana Pratap personally attacked Man Singh, who defended himself by ducking. Man Singh's "Mahout" (the driver of his elephant) was killed. Rana Pratap's famous warhorsethe blue eyed kathiawari stallion "Chetak" was mortally wounded. Rana Pratap, himself, amazingly survived this battle. A nobleman, Jhala Man Singh, who pretended to be Rana Pratap, was killed by the Mughal forces. Jhala Man Singh put the helmet of Rana Pratap on his head, though he knew he would be killed soon by doing this. Ultimately, the Mughal army won the battle. The next day Man Singh advanced and captured Gogunda, the seat of Pratap's coronation, but the geographical situation of Mewar was such that Rana Pratap could hide between hills. He exploited this and began guerrilla warfare. Ultimately, Pratap was able to liberate all of Mewar except the fort of Chittor. Despite his success Akbar was not happy with Man Singh, and stopped conversing with him for some time. Perhaps he thought Man Singh was responsible for Pratap's escape from the battlefield. Conspirators also fed this to his ears, but Akbar's doubts cleared when he visited Ajmer's shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti the following year.

In the Battle of Haldighati, despite exaggerated figures, it is estimated that Rana Pratap had 3000 horsemen, some elephants and the same number of Bhil warriors under Rao Poonja. A small artillery unit was also with him under Hakim Khan Sur. The force was divided into five wings. Advance wing was under Hakim Khan Sur, Bhim Singh Dodiya and Ramdas Rathore. The right wing was under Bhamashah and Ramshah Tanwar. The left wing was under Jhala Man Singh. Rana Pratap was in the centre. Behind him was Rao Poonja with his Bhil warriors.

The Mughal army had 10,000 horsemen, some elephants and infantry. Among the horsemen 4,000 were Kachwaha Rajput warriors. One thousand other Hindu warriors and rest were Uzbeks, Turkics, Kazakhs, Sayyids and other Muslims. This force divided into five wings. There were two advance wings. The first was under Sayyid Hashim Barah son of Sayyed Mahmud Khan, Barah Jagganath Kachwaha and Asaf Ali Khan. The second advance troop was under Madho Singh Kachwaha. Behind this was Man Singh. To his right was Mulla Kazikhan Badkhsi and to left were Sayyeds of Barah. At first Rana Pratap attacked and scattered the advance and left wings of the Mughal army. Jagnnath Kachwaha killed Ramshah Tanwar and Rajput warriors of both sides engaged in fierce battle. The Mughal army could not distinguish between friend and foe and killed Rajputs of both sides. The Mughal army surrounded Rana Pratap; so to save his life Jhala Man put the Rana's helmet on his head and died in his place. This provided Maha Rana Pratap a chance to escape. After this, Rana's army dispersed. The Mughal Army, expecting another attack, remained vigilant all night. Only in the morning they were able to judge their success. Almost half of Rana's army was finished. The battle was won but the Maha Rana had survived.

Expedition to Kabul

In 1580 CE, some prominent Muslim officers of Akbar, displeased with his liberal religious policies, started to conspire against him. Qazi Muhammad Yazdi declared it the duty of every Muslim to rebel against Akbar. In Bihar and Bengal they declared Mirza Hakim, Akbar's stepbrother and Governor of Kabul, to be the emperor. Akbar sent armies to Bihar and Bengal to crush this rebellion, while he himself started towards Kabul; Man Singh with him. On March 8, 1581, Akbar reached Machhiwara and soon arrived on the banks of River Indus, he then sent an advance force led by Man Singh to Kabul. Although, Akbar's army was hesitating to cross the swelling Indus River, Man Singh was able to cross it first followed by troops. Hearing the news Mirza Hakim fled to Gurband. Following the army, Akbar himself arrived at Kabul on August 10, 1581. Hakim was pardoned by Akbar, but his sister "Bakhtunissa Begum" was appointed Governor of Kabul. After Akbar returned to Fatehpur Sikri; Bakhtunissa remained as the nominal head of state, while Hakim acted as the Governor (Hakim died in July, 1582). Kabul was annexed by the Mughal Empire and Man Singh was appointed Governor. He remained in Kabul for some years and built a fortress, used by succeeding Mughal Governors. Man Singh brought many talented men with him when he returned from Kabul. Some of their descendants still live in Jaipur.

Again in 1585 CE, some Afghan tribes rose against the Mughal empire. The Yusufzai and "Mandar" tribes were the main ones among them. Akbar sent an army under Zain Khan, Hakim Abul Fateh and Raja Birbal to control these revolting tribes. However, they failed to control the revolting Afghans and Raja Birbal, friend of Akbar and one of his Navratnas was also killed in the battle with Afghans. Akbar then sent Raja Todar Mal to crush the revolt and called Raja Man Singh to help Todar Mal. Todarmal had some success in controlling the rebellious Afghan tribes, but the real source of the revolt was behind the Khyber Pass. It was hard to cross this pass which was dominated by Afghan "Kabailies". Man Singh was accompanied by "Rao Gopaldas" of Nindar in this expedition, who bravely made way for Mughal army in the pass. After crossing the pass Man Singh decisively defeated five major tribes of Afghans including Yusufzai and "Mandar" tribes. The flag of Amber was changed from "Katchanar" (green climber in white base) to "Pachranga" (five colored) to commemorate this victory. This flag continued in use until accession of Jaipur state in India. This permanently crushed the revolt and the area remained peaceful thereafter.

In 1586 CE, Akbar sent another army under Raja Bhagwant Das, father of Kunwar Man Singh to win Kashmir. Kashmir was included in the Mughal Empire and made a Sarkar (district) of Kabul province. Man Singh and his father Raja Bhagwant Das are reputed to have brought the technology of cannon production from Kabul and Lahore to Amber.

Conquest of Odisha

In 1588, Man Singh was appointed Governor of Bihar. In 1590, Qutlu Khan Lohani, an Afghan ruler of Bengal declared himself independent and assumed the title of "Qutlu Shah". Raja Man Singh started an expedition against him. Before facing Man Singh, Qutlu Shah was killed by Rao Gopaldas of Nindar. Qutlu Khan's son Nasir Khan, after little resistance, accepted Mughal sovereignty and paid homage to Man Singh on 15 August 1590. Nasir Khan was then appointed Governor of Bengal. Nasir Khan remained faithful to the Mughal empire for two years but after that he violated the conditions of his treaty by Odisha and laying siege to the Jagannath Temple of Puri. Man Singh attacked Nasir Khan and decisively defeated him on April 9, 1592 in a battle near the present day Medinipur town and ousted him from Odisha.[7] Odisha then was annexed to the Mughal Empire and included in Bengal "Subah" (Province).

Governor of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha

On 17 March 1594, Raja Man Singh was appointed Subahdar (Governor) of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. He made his headquarters in Rohtas, in Bihar. In doing so, he renovated the fortifications and also built a Haveli (Palatial House) in Rohtasgarh Fort, which still stands to this date. During his tenure as Governor, Man Singh further expanded the Mughal Empire by defeating and subduing the old kingdoms of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. He defeated Maharaja Pratap Aditya of Jessore, and brought the famous idol of "Shila Devi" to Amber. The temple of this goddess is still present in Amber fort. During Navratris lakhs of people gather here. Raja Man Singh served three successive terms as Governor of this area, in 1594-98, 1601–1605, 1605-1606.

Jahangir and twilight of Man Singh I

Portrait of Raja Man Singh of Amber in old age

Prince Salim was born, but he soon became addicted to alcohol and opium. He disobeyed royal orders and became infamous for torture such as murdering Abul Fazal. Akbar tried hard to reform him as well as his Salim's eldest son Khusrau Mirza. Two of Akbar's sons, Murad and Danial, died in his lifetime. The royal court was divided into two factions, one favoring Khusrau and the other Salim to be the next emperor. Raja Man Singh and Mirza Aziz Koka were in Khusrau's favour. In 1605, when Akbar fell ill, he appointed Salim to be his heir. Though Man Singh opposed Salim's accession to the throne during Akbar's lifetime, he never opposed Jahangir (Salim) after his coronation. After Akbar's death, Jahangir (Salim) became emperor. Man Singh was initially sent as Subahdar of Bengal on November 10, 1605 for a short period, but soon he was replaced by Qutb-ud-Din Khan Koka on September 2, 1606.[8] Jahangir also ordered removal of some of the modifications which had been made by Raja Man Singh to his palace at Amber. But in 1611 CE, the southern provinces of Ahmednagar, Berar and Khandesh defied Mughal sovereignty under Malik Ambar. Jahangir sent Raja Man Singh and others to crush the revolt.

Man Singh died a natural death on July 6, 1614 at Ellichpur. Following his death, he was succeeded by his son Mirza Raja Bhau Singh. His direct descendants became known (to this date) as the Rajawats who had the privilege to the throne of Amber and subsequently Jaipur.

Cultural achievements

Raja Man Singh was a devotee of Shri Krishna. He had a seven-storied temple of Krishna constructed at for Srila Rupa Goswami, disciple of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in Vrindavan. The cost of construction was one crore rupees at that time. Akbar is also believed to have donated the red sandstone for this temple. Aurangzeb later demolished three storeys of this temple. The four-storey temple is still present at Vrindavan. He also constructed a temple of Krishna at his capital, Amber. The place is now known as "Kanak Vrindavan" near Amber Ghati of Jaipur. He constructed the temple of Shila Devi at Amber Fort. He also constructed and repaired many temples at Benaras, Allahabad and various other places. He added much beautification to his palace at Amber. When Akbar called a meeting of his nobles at Fatehpur Sikri in 1582, to discuss Din-i-Ilahi, Raja Bhagwant Das was the only man to oppose this religion. Later, Man Singh also refused to convert to Din-i-Ilahi. It is believed his son Jagat Singh I received education from Goswami Tulsidas and Man Singh himself used to attend his religious lectures. Tulsidas was a contemporary of Akbar and author of Ramcharit Manas, known as Tulsi Ramayana, and much other famous poetry devoted to Rama and Hanuman. He used to be accompanied by Charan poets. There are two occasions when these poets inspired Man Singh by their Poetry:

When the Mughal army was hesitating to cross the Indus River at Attock, the poet said:

Sabe bhumi Gopal ki, ya men Atak kahan
Ja ke man men Atak hai, so hi Atak raha
(All land belongs to one deity, where is hindrance in that?
But they who have hindrance in their souls are hindered).

Hearing this, Man Singh crossed the river first, followed by the army. It is believed after winning Odisha, Man Singh wanted to create a naval force and attack "Sri Lanka". But a poet said:

Raghupati dino dan, vipra Vibhishan janike
Man mahipat man, diyo dan kimi lijiye
(Lord Rama had given Lanka (in donation) to Vibhishana as a Brahmin.
O Raja Man Singh, stop! How something, once donated, can be taken back)?

(Sri Lanka was won by Shri Rama, forefather of Man Singh. Rama appointed Vibhishana, brother of Rawana, to rule it). It is believed that he dropped the idea of winning Lanka, perhaps because the lack of a naval force was a weak point of the Mughal empire.

See also

  • House of Kachwaha
  • List of Rajputs
  • Pratap Singh, Maharana of Mewar
  • Origin of Rajputs


  1. 30. Ra´jah Ma´n Singh, son of Bhagwán Dás - Biography Ain-i-Akbari, Vol. I.
  2. Raja Man Singh Biography India's who's who,
  3. Unknown (circa 1600-03). "Akbar Fights with Raja Man Singh". A copy of the Akbarnama. 
  4. Sarkar, Jadunath (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman ISBN 81-250-0333-9, p.74
  5. Sarkar, Jadunath (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman ISBN 81-250-0333-9, p.86
  6. Beveridge H. (tr.) (1939, Reprint 2000). The Akbarnama of Abu´l Fazl, Vol. III, Kolkata: The Asiatic Society, ISBN 81-7236-094-0, p.244
  7. Sarkar, Jadunath (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman ISBN 81-250-0333-9, pp.75-79
  8. Sarkar, Jadunath (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman ISBN 81-250-0333-9, pp.86-87


  • Beveridge, H. (tr.) (1939, reprint 2000). The Akbarnama of Abu´l Fazl, Vol. III, Kolkata: The Asiatic Society, ISBN 81-7236-094-0.
  • Sarkar, Jadunath (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman ISBN 81-250-0333-9.
  • Sagar, Nanuram Kavita Kalptaru.
  • Raja Man Singh of Amber by Rajiva Nain Prasad. Calcutta, World Press Private Ltd., 1966.

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