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The Royal Challenge

The Royal Challenge
Princess Diya Kumari (second from right) of  the Jaipur royal family/Photo: facebook; (above) Mahendra Singh of the Mewar-Udaipur royal family. Both have claimed to be descendants of Lord Ram

Above: Princess Diya Kumari (second from right) of  the Jaipur royal family/Photo: facebook; (above) Mahendra Singh of the Mewar-Udaipur royal family. Both have claimed to be descendants of Lord Ram

When the Supreme Court raised the issue of descendants of Lord Ram, the Jaipur and Udaipur royal families said they belonged to his dynasty and there was ample evidence to prove it

By Asif Ullah Khan in Jaipur

Being born and brought up in Jaipur, one can see ample symbols which depict that the Jaipur royal family belonged to the Suryavanshi (Sun dynasty) lineage. The most prominent among them are Sun God heritage pillars erected on the road divider of Johari Bazaar. There are other places such as Tripolia Gate and the main gate of Rambagh Palace Hotel where this symbol is prominently displayed. So it does not come as a surprise when Diya Kumari, BJP MP from Rajsamand, and a member of the Jaipur royal family, claimed that they were descendants of Lord Ram’s son, Kush. Most Rajputs belong to three basic lineages—Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi and Agnivanshi. Lord Ram belonged to the Raghuvanshi kula /Raghav (one of the main branches of the Suryavansha dynasty).

Ramu Ramdev, officer on special duty at the City Palace, told India Legal that just like Lord Ram had two sons—Luv and Kush—Laxman and other brothers of Lord Ram too would have had children. But when the Supreme Court raised the issue of descendants of Raghuvansha (Lord Ram), then only the Jaipur royal family decided to speak up.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had asked the question during the Ayodhya hearing to Senior Advocate K Parasaran, who was appearing for Ram Lalla Virajman, one of the parties in the case. Parasaran then argued that the deity and the birthplace both were “juristic” entities and hence, capable of holding properties and instituting lawsuits. “We are just wondering if anyone from the Raghuvansha dynasty is still living there (at Ayodhya),” the bench said. “I have no information. We will try to find it out,” Parasaran had responded.

Ramu Ramdev said: “This is akin to saying that your father had no children and no one from your family is left. Then you will be forced to speak out. Here the question is about Lord Ram. So Diya Kumari had to speak up.” He said the Kushwaha or the Kachhawa clan is named after Kush, the older son of Lord Ram, and the Jaipur royal family belongs to this clan. According to the lineage of this clan, King Dashrath was the 62nd descendant; Lord Ram the 63rd; Kush the 64th, and Late Brig Bhawani Singh, who was the father of Diya Kumari, the 307th descendant.

Ramdev said that other historical evidence which proves that members of the Jaipur royal family were descendants of Lord Ram can be found in the works of historian Prof R Nath. Two of his books—The Jaisinghpura of Sawai Raja Jai Singh at Ayodhya and Studies in the Middle Indian Architecture— show that Jaisinghpura and the temple at Ram’s birthplace were under the authority of Sawai Jai Singh II and it was he who built the Ram Temple. Nine documents and two maps of Jai Singh are preserved in the Kapad–Dwar collection in the City Palace Museum of Jaipur. Prof Nath, who has examined these records, concluded that Jai Singh had acquired the land of Ram Janmasthan in 1717. The ownership of the land was vested in the deity.

Ramdev said that in 1776, Asafud-Daula, the nawab wazir of Oudh, had ordered Raja Bhawani Singh to ensure that there should be no interference in Jaisinghpura, which existed between Ayodhya and Allahabad. After the death of Aurangzeb, Sawai Jai Singh bought huge swathes of land between 1717 to 1725 and carried out major development works. These include the nine-storey palace, Kot Ram, a place for Lord Ram’s khadau (wooden sandals) and Sita’s angnikund (hearth).

When told that some of the members of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family were adopted from other royal families like Diya Kumari’s grandfather, Raja Man Singh, Ramu Ramdev said: “First of all, they were adopted from families which had the same blood and secondly, after adoption under Hindu law, they become part of the family which adopted them.”

Meanwhile, Mahendra Singh, a member of the Mewar–Udaipur royal family, too, has claimed to be a descendant of Lord Ram. Ramdev said: “Yes, like the Jaipur royal family, they are also Suryavanshis. The only difference is that Mewar’s Sun God has a moustache.”

In Jaipur, meanwhile, Diya Kumari and her mother, Padmini Devi, addressed a press conference where they made it clear that their claim to be the descendants of Lord Ram should in no way be construed as an attempt to interfere in the proceedings of the apex court. Diya Kumari said she was ready to provide documents if the need arose. “I do not want to interfere in the proceedings of the court but if they demand these documents from us, we will definitely provide all of them. There are many of his descendants, and the whole of India should be proud of it,” she said.

Incidentally, the Jaipur royal family never had cordial ties with the Congress. Gayatri Devi, the third wife of Sawai Man Singh, contested the Lok Sabha election of 1962 as an independent and won by a record margin, securing 1,92,909 votes out of the 2,46,516 cast. Later, she joined the Swatantra Party founded by C Rajagopalachari and held the seat in 1967 and 1971. Her differences with Indira Gandhi were well-known and she was arrested during the Emergency for alleged tax violation.

The only time a member of the Jaipur royal family contested on a Congress ticket was in 1989 when Brig Bhawani Singh, Diya Kumari’s father, contested the Lok Sabha polls from Jaipur. Ironically, at that time the BJP was leading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and Bhawani Singh lost to BJP’s Girdhari Lal Bhargava by a huge margin.

Diya Kumari, unlike her father, joined the BJP on September 10, 2013, before a crowd of two lakh people in the presence of then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, BJP President Rajnath Singh, and Vasundhara Raje. The same year, she was elected to the Rajasthan assembly from the Sawai Madhopur seat. In the 2018 assembly polls, she was denied a ticket from this seat but was later elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajsamand.

However, the biggest irony of this debate over the descendants of Lord Ram is that Kasur and Lahore, which were founded by Kush and Luv, are in present-day Pakistan. The famous melody queen of the sub-continent, Noor Jehan, also hailed from Kasur. According to film historian Karan Bali, after Partition, Noor Jehan opted for Pakistan, not for communal reasons, but because she wanted to be close to her birthplace, Kasur.

Blood is obviously thicker than water.